Dance team to compete at Nationals at Disney World

Photo courtesy of Kerry Matthews
Last year's CHHS dance team poses in front of Cinderella's Castle at Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

Mary Catherine Miller, Staff Writer

The Center Hill High School dance team will travel to Orlando, Florida, for the 2017 National Dance Team Championship. The Universal Dance Association competition will be Feb. 3-5 at Disney World.

“I feel excited,” said Brooke LeGrow, a junior making her second trip with the dance team to Nationals.

LeGrow said the CHHS dancers have worked hard to prepare for competition.

“We have to run every single day, and practice every day until 6,” she said. “Hopefully we will get into Finals and do really well this year.”

Also thrilled about returning to Disney World is Tiana Baldwin, a sophomore dancer, who agreed that the preparation is intensive.

“It takes a lot of hard work, dedication and practice every day,” she said.

Kerry Matthews directs the CHHS dance team.

“We compete against some very good dance teams from all across the country, teams that have over 60 girls in their program,” Matthews said. “Some of the teams have members who have performed at things like the ‘Ellen Show’ and ‘So You Think You Can Dance.’ It’s tough competition. Our girls practice 11 months out of the year, including after school and Saturdays, to prepare for this very moment.”

Matthews said training for Nationals prepares the dancers for many things.

“Our girls learn valuable life lessons,” she said, including a strong work ethic and leadership skills. In addition, the dancers learn “the ability to stay positive and encourage your teammates even when you feel exhausted and frustrated.”

The team has won seven state championships. In December, the dancers placed second in pom and hip hop in the 2016 Mississippi High School Activities Association Dance Championship.

In addition to Baldwin and LeGrow, the CHHS dance team includes Devyn Baker, Carley Childress, Kennedi Evans, Emma Freeze, Kaitlyn Harrison, Kenzie Heidenreich, Haylee Hughes, Hanna Jenkins, Ka’Lexis Judge, Becka Matthews, Madelyn Miller, Niyah Odum, Brittnie Sandridge, Jordan Sandridge, Savannah Steen, Mia TenEyck and Lydia Walker.