Dance Team Places Second at Nationals


Courtesy of Clara Kao

At the National Championship on March 5th, the dance team placed second in the nation.

They sat together, holding hands, waiting for the moment “Dominion High School” was said. For senior Riya Kumar, the moment was everything she was hoping for, the year they were going to reclaim the National Championship, after the last one in 2019. As the anticipation rose and it was down to just two places left, “Dominion High School” was announced in second place.

The weekend of March 5, the dance team was in Orlando, Florida, competing at the National Dance Association’s High School Nationals. The team was competing in the Large Varsity Hip-Hop division, and were riding on a high from the preliminary round.  

“I would say we are very, very proud of this team, placing second in the US is a pretty huge deal. But there is a lot surrounding us getting second place this year, it’s a little bit more complex than just placing second,” coach Clara Kao said. 

In preliminaries, the team was placed first at a score of 90.67, being the only team with a score in the 90s. Not only were they seeded the best in the competition, but they broke the school record at Dominion. 

“We did have one or two mistakes, obvious ones on stage at prelims, but I think that’s due to nerves. It is the national stage, [and] we were actually the last team of 20 to perform on the prelim evening. The competition ballroom was packed because we were the last for the evening. I think maybe I’ve gotten to them just a little bit, especially maybe some of our rookies,” Kao said.

After the high at prelims, the team worked hard the next day cleaning up the routine for finals. “Prelims [were] crazy. Then, we were just working really hard, we practiced for nine hours on Saturday, the next day. And then we got to the competition on Sunday,” junior Miya Tsuyuki said.

The team spent the entire day on Saturday rehearsing and cleaning up the routine, making it the best they can for the final performance. (Courtesy of Clara Kao)

At finals on Sunday, the team performed last, leaving it all on the floor right before the awards. “The pressure of a two minute performance, and that’s all you get. I think that what you’re asking them to do is a full out sprint, with athletic skills and tricks and all that nonstop for two straight minutes. It’s very physically taxing and demanding on them. They did amazing,” Kao said. 

“After finals, we watched the video backstage and it looked really, really good. Once awards came around, it was the last two and we were very, very confident and then all of a sudden they called our names for second in our hearts just dropped. It was very disappointing,” Kumar said. 

The dance team came in second with a score of 94.23, just a tenth of a point below the team that placed first. 

“It was a flawless execution of the routine and there were no mistakes, no real big mistakes at all. They really left their heart and souls on that stage. [We] could not have been prouder. If you watch the finals routine, we just couldn’t have asked our team for a more perfect performance. The scores really just came down to the fact that dance is a very subjective sport. Ultimately, we kind of look at that both teams performed extremely well, and the judges may have felt more comfortable one way or another with the other routine,” Kao said. 

Despite placing second, and the overall disappointment of coming so close, the team is proud of their accomplishments and what it took to make it to that point.  “It’s definitely a big accomplishment to get second in the entire nation considering all the other teams that scored below us. It’s really cool,” Campbell Resnick said. 

The team has practiced all year, spending early mornings and late nights rehearsing and becoming the best they could be. “It’s a lot of time. Not only do we meet five days a week, but it’s always two hours each day. We always put our best that we can both mornings and afternoons. And I’m very thankful that everybody on the team is willing to put an equal amount of work in,” Junior Raymond Lee said. 

A special tradition the team has is that they do everything “in house,” meaning that they choreograph all their dances as well as make all their mixes, courtesy of Coach Anand Kao. “[A] majority of the choreography came from our captains and co-captains, which is very unique for high school dance teams that compete at the national level, because the teams are buying their choreography from professional choreographers. Also, their mixes are done by professional mixers and people that produce music, but I personally put together that mix for this year. And this has been the thing that is just tradition at Dominion. We kind of do everything in house,” Anand Kao said.

After months and months of preparation, including choreographing and creating their own music, the team had their final performance on Sunday, March 5.

“Every single dancer on the team has a role, a major part in the routine. It is extremely hard to have a full performance if any one of them is missing,” Clara Kao said. 

The team will be taking a short break, but will be back in action at the spring pep rally as well as their Spring Soiree on May 6th. Until then, the team will be training and even starting their road to nationals next year. 

“We’re not going to stop and we’re going to try to improve. We’re going to get better and we’re hopefully going to take that first place next year,” Lee said. 

The final routine can be found here.