Being on your high school's competitive dance team is an experience unlike any other. You aren't quite a studio dance team, but you aren't quite a "normal" high school sports team. You don't have games, you have competitions. You don't perform on a stage, you perform on a gym floor. This hybrid sport gave me some of my best experiences of high school, and I'm sure many other high school dancers feel the same way. Here are 12 unique sentiments that only former members of competitive high school dance teams know to be true.
1. Even if you aren't a sports fan, you know the names of all of the lines on a high school gym court.
Basketball and volleyball lines are essential for spacing in formations. You also know there is an imaginary line running horizontally in line with the basketball hoops.
2. It always came as a shock every time you heard your team got to practice in a gym.
3. The janitors loved your team, simply because you did so much of their work for them.
So much choreography involves floor work, and no one has any desire to roll around in the dirt that has been tracked into your practice corner all day. Therefore, practice usually began with sweeping and/or mopping and continued with your clothes gathering any dirt you missed.
4. You constantly had to battle to prove competitive dance is a sport.
5. You got so excited when you landed each new trick.
For me, it was a headspring. For you, it may have been anything from a leap to a lift. Either way, you know the feeling that I'm talking about.
6. The worst thing that ever happened was someone quitting the team or being unable to perform.
Visuals like this take hours to perfect. Losing even just one person threw the whole routine off and meant that you had to reblock (aka live out your worst nightmare).
7. You can still hear the announcer say "*insert school name here*, the floor is yours for competition."
This short sentence meant it was finally time to show the judges and the crowd what you'd been working so hard towards for almost a year.
8. Because your sport doesn't follow the typical postseason path, no one ever understands how difficult it is to qualify for state.
My team competed in two different organizations. In one, you had to score an 80 out of 100 at any regular-season competition, and in the other, your team had to place in the top six teams out of 15-20 teams at one sectional competition. Both of these tasks are extremely difficult and are challenging to explain to someone who isn't used to dance competitions.
9. Really, no one understood how dance competitions work period.
Dance competitions are not dance battles you see on TV! They involve executing stylized routines in front of a panel of judges with score sheets. No matter how many times you tried to explain this to your non-dancer friends or family members, they never managed to grasp quite how it worked.
10. Nothing beat the rush of your music starting on competition day.
I have very little recollection of ever actually competing because my adrenaline level was so high. I'm getting butterflies just thinking about it.
11. You live for your team's crazy competition day superstitions.
My team put little pieces of paper in our shoes with encouraging quotes on them (s/o to the mom that printed them every weekend), said a little prayer, and did our team cheer before taking the floor every weekend. None of us could imagine dancing before doing these things.
12. The bond with your teammates is absolutely unbreakable.
You may have fought off and on, but that was just because you spent nearly every waking moment together during competition season. A year later, I still cheer for my teammates from afar because without them, my high school experience and success wouldn't have been possible.