Most sports teams learn their lineup and system of plays at the beginning of the season, but the Aragon dance team learns a new routine almost every week.
Each dance performance at a football or basketball game usually consists of one or two previously-learned dances, and one new routine the team learned in the past week. Routine learning begins with choreography lessons on Mondays and Tuesdays. Thursdays are “cleaning day,” where choreography has already been learned, and the routine is practiced. Lastly, on Fridays, finishing touches are made and the dance is perfected for gametime.
“The captains choreograph [the routines],” said junior Kayla Tai. “ Sometimes they open it up to [others] if regular members have pieces that they want to use, then we can use those, but they just have to show it to the coach and captains first.”
To learn choreography in just a week during the season, dancers must practice as a team before the season starts.
“Dance team [has] summer practices, as we desire to be fully prepared for all performances when we return back to school,” said senior Aaron Dasig Aguada. “Just like any other sport at our school, dance team tries our hardest to bring our A-Game for our upcoming seasons.”
Like many fall sports, the dance team begins practicing a couple weeks before school begins.
Although tryouts for this year’s team were held last spring, the dance team roster is not yet finalized.
“In the past, students who make the Aragon dance team have been decided by a panel of judges who passed try-outs with flying colors,” said Dasig Aguada. “This year, however, our coach has gathered a list of 24 students who are potential dance team members instead of full-fledged dance team members for the 2017-2018 school year.”
Dance team coach Jan Carlos “JC” Caoile plans to have another tryout for the 24 dancers in the fall, where more will be cut to create the final roster.
The only dancers who have a guaranteed spot on this year’s team are seniors Anna Chuakay and Alexa Mota, who will serve as team captains for the upcoming season.
Unlike other Aragon sports, dance team’s “season” spans two typical high school sports seasons. The team performs in the fall and the winter at football and basketball games.
In order to bring their “A-Game” throughout both seasons with clean, cohesive performances, dancers must have strong individual skills.
“Each dancer needs to work on improving their individual skills in the different types of hip hop … which will help with our overall cleanliness,” said Tai. “[In previous seasons], since we didn’t have a coach that was more experienced in dance, we didn’t get to work on those types of things, but now that we do, our coach is really focusing on teaching us the basics and the techniques we need that will help us improve our dancing overall.”
In previous seasons, the same coach led the Aragon dance and cheer teams.
“It was great, but I also felt [coach Darrell Franzella] was overworked having to watch over both cheer and dance. She couldn’t always be at both of our practices, so we had stand-in coaches who were old members who graduated, and even then, they couldn’t commit full-time because they were still students,” Tai said.
Last year, Caoile was recruited to coach Aragon’s dance team before the basketball season started. However, Caoile was not approved to be coach until the spring, by which time the dance season was over.
“During the spring, our dancers are free to do other sports,” said Tai. “But [for] those of us that don’t want to do a sport for school and want to keep dancing, our coaches and captains sometimes will sign us up for performances that are outside of school.”
The extended season and spring performances help with cohesion in routines and fosters connection and friendship between dancers.
“Sometimes when I’m having a hard time at school, I look forward to dance practices because I know the people there,” said Tai. “Even if they’re having a bad day too, we’re all excited to see each other. There’s great energy and positivity, and we’re all just excited to dance and have fun.”