Local high school dancers hit the floor

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MANCHESTER — It had been three years since Burr and Burton Academy had hosted a Vermont Principals Association-sanctioned dance competition. But dancers from BBA, Mount Anthony Union High School and four other high schools made up for lost time on Saturday afternoon, before a mostly full house at BBA's E.H. Henry Gymnasium.

And though only one local side was called to the podium, the coaches of both squads were pleased with the results, as they build and hone their routines for the VPA state championship competition in Vergennes next month. It was the second meet of the season for both MAU and BBA.

Hosting the meet, the BBA dancers opened the competition with a jazz routine and finished it with their hip-hop routine. In between, there were high-kicks, handstands, hip-hop inspired floor moves, and plenty of encouragement from spectators and athletes alike for the effort being expended on the gym floor, in tightly-choreographed routines lasting 2 minutes and 30 seconds each.

"I feel like they're doing everything they can do," BBA coach Whitney Thibodeaux, who's in her second year at the helm, said of her team's performance. "They have positive attitudes, they support one another and they support other teams and they're doing exactly what we're asking of them."

MAU coach Erica Cummings has a younger team, having graduated a number of seniors last year. "We have a lot of new people so we're improving everything," she said.

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"We're changing stuff up weekly, challenging ourselves and pushing ourselves as a team."

Dance is a coed varsity sport with divisions in pom, jazz and hip-hop. Dancers practice with all the regularity of other sports, and a great deal of athleticism is packed into routines set to music and evaluated by a panel of judges.

Squads from Mount Mansfield Regional High School and Middlebury Union High School, both of whom brought sizable varsity and junior varsity squads to Manchester, swept the podium in jazz and hip-hop, Bellows Free Academy-St. Albans took third in both disciplines.

Mount Anthony was the only school fielding a pom routine in the competition.

When the competition was over, all six teams formed a circle on the gym floor, or formed lines as the music dictated and shook their collective groove thing until the judges were ready to render a verdict.


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