The Edmonds Woodway Dance Team
By Stephanie Farmer
People often get the impression that certain activities, programs and clubs are overlooked. When most think of high school extracurriculars, their minds go straight to the Friday night football games and cheerleaders dressed in gleaming costumes that dominate modern culture.
However, there is another important group at every football game that rarely receives its time in the limelight: the dance team.
The Edmonds Woodway dance team has been around for more than sixteen years and has been district champions five times in two separate categories.The girls have said that performing often feels like the best part of their dance journey. Their attention grabbing facial expressions and sharp, enthusiastic, movements often sit in stark contrast to the normal, less than ecstatic, emotions that most every high school student goes through.
Everyday, these girls are juggling daily dance practice, which are several hours long, with their honors and IB classes, as well as a host of other clubs and commitments. Junior Haley Rundorff, a co-captain of the EWHS dance team with sophomore Grace Borchert who is now starting her second year on the team answered some questions about the dance team and what they do.
Rundorff is a full IB junior balancing her classes with the dance team as well as studio dance. Both her and Borchert said they rely on the dance team, their teammates and their routine to relieve the stress that many people feel during their high school careers. This stress often is caused by their packed agendas full of physical and mental activities.
This routine often involves a full day of challenging classes. For Rundorff, this is followed by a mere hour to do her homework after which she has dance team practice, a food break and studio dance classes.
It isn’t magic that keeps herself calm and composed, though.
“[Dance] puts extra pressure on you to get something done, but for me I like having that something else. It gives me motivation,” Rundorff said. Borchert agreed and said she wouldn’t be able to get through high school struggles without the friendships she’s made through dance.
It’s easy to tell how close the bonds Borchert and Rundorff formed with their fellow dancers are. “It’s amazing — because it goes all year — that everyday, after school, I’m able to go to a place where I have 20 other girls and close friends that I can talk to… and if I’m having a bad day, they always hype me up and make me feel better,” Borchert said regarding her long-lasting dance friendships.
A normal practice starts with attendance followed by what they call falling in — a process in which the dancers make sure they are ready for the day’s practice. After this comes a vigorous warm up, usually led by the team captain.
It isn’t difficult to see how hard these girls work; their synchronicity gives their dance a remarkable element of teamwork that does not occur often in most of the dance world.
Anyone at EWHS has probably seen this teamwork in action, whether it’s at an assembly, football game, or even one of their competitions. Many people think that what the dance team does is unique and not fit for the peppy and uniform assemblies, and often times the dancers agree with this. Every dancer on the team knows that what they perform is meant for a competition setting.
The dance team performs rigorous routines that involve more creative movement-centered pieces, and their stunts often focus on the use of many of the members as opposed to two or three girls, as frequently seen in cheerleading. Their dance styles of hip hop and military, which is similar to drill, are at home in a competition, but they are nonetheless fun and entertaining at football games and assemblies.
Last year, the team was district champions, as it has been for five years in two separate categories. Their choreographer, Lindsay Starr, led them to a series of victories last year, and are gearing up for a routine that will lead them to victory.
In the past, Starr has led an all star hip-hop team to nationals on several different occasions before starting to choreograph for EWHS last year.
“She comes up with so many amazing formations, things you could never dream of in a million years, and so many different ways for people to move,” Borchert said. Starr has helped the girls find their unique niche in the dance world.
These girls give up so much of there to improve their craft, working everyday after school to clean each routine. Each practice, they exert an abundance of energy only to perform for up to three minutes at assemblies, competitions and football games. From here on, take the time to clap for the diligent dance team and appreciate all the work that goes into every short performance.