BENNINGTON — Feeling free and ready to bust a move. That's how the Mount Anthony Union High School dance team is feeling about the dance competition they're hosting this Saturday.
"We feel very confident in ourselves to bring it on Saturday," said MAU senior captain Weslyn Blair. "We made some great improvements from our first competition and I think that has helped us stay loose, which is why I believe we will do well on Saturday."
It's been a new, yet very exciting, year for the MAU dance team.
The team brings back nine girls from last year's squad, coupled with a few girls from last year's JV team as well as those who are competing for the first time ever on the squad.
"It's been a very exciting year so far for us," said MAU dance team coach Erica Cummings. "We have a lot of experienced girls coming back as well as girls who have never even competed in dance before this year, so it's fun seeing how we've grown as a team to this point in the season."
In total, MAU has 17 dancers on the varsity squad this year.
The team is led by Blair and junior captains Carly Plaisance, Cassidy Loomis and Natalie Goodell.
The foursome are all really ecstatic to see how the season will turnout.
"We have a really good team this year and we have a chance to do some big things," Plaisance said. "Our team is very close and we are literally a family, making it really fun to dance together and why we can be very successful as a team."
Mixing in around the four captains on the team are juniors Michalyne Angell, Brandi LaFountain, Eunice Suberu, Danika Williams and Sarah Wood, most of whom were on the varsity squad last season.
Rounding out the team for the Patriots are sophomores Macie Powers, Colleen Ahearn, Lucy Holden, Madison Owens, Kiera Simpson and Melia White.
This is the first time in Cummings' tenure as coach, six years, that the MAU dance team has as many as 17 dancers on the varsity squad. They have 13 on the JV squad.
"[My coaching staff and I] have really worked over the past three years to really build the program to be bigger and it's starting to happen," Cummings said. "The girls on the team have done a good job getting their friends to try out and as the team has gotten better, more girls have wanted to try out, so we hope it continues to grow like this in the future."
Three years ago, MAU only had 12 girls in the entire dance program. Now in 2016, the Patriots have 30 dancers in the program.
The increase in numbers as really helped the team so far this year, after MAU put on a solid performance in their first competition of the season, at Springfield two weeks ago.
MAU finished second in the hip-hop dance routine and finished an impressive third place in the jazz section, a routine that Cummings decided to use for the first time since she had been coaching at MAU because of the increased number of girls on the squad this season.
"I decided to go with jazz this year instead of pom because I felt that our strength as a team was in hip-hop and the techniques you use in jazz help a lot with hip-hop," Cummings said. "Also it's something different to show the judges then what we have shown in years past and plus with new faces and large number of dancers we have on the team this year, I felt like it a dance style that would fit us better then just straight palm."
After getting their feet wet with the Springfield competition, MAU has now put all their focus on putting on a great show for their hometown fans when they host their annual 'Dominate The Dance Floor' this Saturday at 5 p.m.
The team's motto all year has been going "all-in" and that's what the girls are ready to do come Saturday.
"We're going to rock the floor on Saturday," Plaisance said. "It's our home competition and you always want to make a statement at your home competition, so we're going to bring everything we have to wow some people come Saturday."