MAU DANCE

The Mount Anthony dance team competes virtually.

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BENNINGTON — The Mount Anthony dance team has been waiting nearly two years to compete in person. The wait is almost over.

Last season, the Patriots competed virtually in an empty gym for the entire season.

MAU varsity coach Erica Cummings and junior varsity coach/varsity assistant Jillian Hervieux did their part to replicate the atmosphere of an in-person competition by bringing balloons into Kates Gymnasium on competition day and creating posters for the athletes. They wanted the best experience possible for their student-athletes.

Despite the coaches’ best efforts, there was no way to recreate the presence of fans. The team danced in an empty gym in front of a camera, video recording its routines to be sent to the judges.

For a sport like dance that tends to rely on the surroundings, competing in front of nobody has been challenging.

“It’s definitely been a change,” said Cummings. “Just in the atmosphere. The sport of dance I feel has a really great camaraderie. That cheering, those people there, it really helps.”

Dancers throughout the state faced the same circumstances. Still, the empty gyms had its impact on the sport as a whole.

“It kind of feels like practice still,” Cummings said. “It’s like walking into a stadium with hundreds of people, but they’re not there. It doesn’t feel the same, you don’t get that adrenaline rush. Sometimes you don’t get those feelings that push you as an athlete to perform.”

MAU started its season last weekend with a virtual competition at Kates Gymnasium. The Patriots performed well, placing inside the top-3 in both hip-hop and pom.

Cummings acknowledged there were some positives to come out of the virtual competition setup.

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Once all routines were submitted to the judges, Mount Mansfield Athletic Director David Marlow created a slideshow presentation of that day’s dances. MAU would watch together as a team, building team chemistry and seeing how they did.

In terms of scoring, judges had 24 hours to review the videos, but were only allowed to watch each team’s performance twice. The first time revolved around scoring the routine, the second was to give comments.

Cummings said the team received very specific feedback about what to correct, down to the second of the dance. That sort of feedback isn’t often possible in live events, as the judges are concentrated on strictly scoring the routine.

The returnSaturday, MAU is scheduled to return to in-person competition.

“The girls are really pumped, they’re really excited,” Cummings said. “It’s such a good feeling.”

The team already has some experience of performing in front of an audience this winter. The Patriots have been performing at halftime of basketball games this year, something they weren’t able to do last season.

“It gives them an audience. It means a lot and they can really build off of that.”

With the potential of a winter storm hitting the Green Mountain State on Saturday, MAU might have to wait just a little bit longer to return to an in-person competition.

No matter the circumstances, Cummings says her team is ready to compete the rest of the season.

“They’re really hungry for it. I’m really excited for them. And they just keep stepping it up and wanting to try more and do more and really make the best of this situation.”

Michael Mawson can be reached on Twitter @Mawson_Sports or via email at mmawson@benningtonbanner.com.

Sports Reporter

Michael Mawson is the sports editor for Vermont News & Media. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of New Hampshire in 2019. Michael was the sports editor of UNH’s student newspaper where he covered NCAA Division I athletics.


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