Blue Prints

Dance Team’s plans for the winter season

Veronica Meyer, Staff Writer

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Despite a lack of recognition as a varsity sport and a series of
recurring issues, the dance team has big plans for this winter season.
The team hopes to carry over their success from their fall
season where, as members of the Middletown High School Marching
Band, they won the state championship in Group 6A.
Fourteen members strong, the team has a common goal in
mind: to win states in both jazz and hip-hop categories.
Between 2012 and 2014, the dance team won four state titles.
The team has not placed first at the state competition since then.
Winning a state title is hard. It is even harder when a team is not
equipped with the essentials. The dance team is all too familiar with
this, as they frequently handle difficult situations.
First, the dance team has no designated practice area. The
coaches, captains, and members constantly search for a location,
and typically end up in the band room or the small gymnasium.
Further creating problems for the dance team is the previously
high turnover rate of coaches. Last season, the dance team
coach left in the middle of the season due to incidents with students
and parents, and the dancers had to adapt to new coaches
while at the same time learning competition choreography.
Nonetheless, the Middletown dance team has worked hard to
overcome those issues. The ‘17- ’18 team is led by coaches Alison
Hammell and Kristyna Scalesse, as well as senior captains Allison
Molski and Sophia Ventrelli. Molski is a four-year member
of the team and Ventrelli is a three-year member. Both
have been dancing for fourteen years and have danced a variety
of styles. Neither of them have been on a state championship
team, but they are striving to change that.
Ventrelli explains, “It would just be exciting to finally win my
senior year.” In addition to a win at states, Molski said, “I hope the
team has the cleanest dance that we can.”
As captains, Molski and Ventrelli handle most of the team’s
day to day obstacles, whether it be finding practice spaces or
helping the girls perfect their technique and tricks. This season,
the two have played a substantial role in the team’s success, often
having to step in as coaches due to unforeseen circumstances.
The team practices 3-4 days a week for at least two hours.
Hammell said, “At each practice, we try to get in a workout
and we’re always trying new things to see what we can do
to advance our routines.” The team’s practices are filled with
high intensity dance moves, which sometimes lead to injuries,
from sprained ankles to concussions. All of their moves require
a great deal of focus, as well as physical fitness.
To have the best performance possible, Scalesse chose songs
for the hip-hop mix that would “…pump the girls up so they
would perform [well].” This season, the girls perform
their hip hop routine to a mix of “Bodak Yellow” by Cardi B, “Mi
Gente” by Jay Balvin, “All the Way Up” by Remy Ma and Fat
Joe, and “I’m Better” by Missy Elliot and their jazz routine to “I
Lived” by OneRepublic. In addition, the coaches decided
to hire choreographers to give them a competitive edge,
which has already proven to be very helpful.
The team’s first competition, Dancin’ In The Woods at Woodland
Regional High School, was, to no surprise, riddled with ob-
stacles. Besides the tough competition, neither coach was able
to attend the competition due to family emergencies. The CIAC
rules state that a team without a supervisor is not able to compete.
Knowing this, Athletic Director Elisha DeJesus stepped up
and filled in for the coaches. At the competition, the team
placed first in the jazz division and fourth in hip hop. Molski
said, “[The result] was very rewarding and exciting and it
brought attention to our ability as a team to be able to pull
through hard circumstances.” When the coaches learned of
the success at the first competition, they were ecstatic. Coach
Scalesse was extremely satisfied with the results, yet at the same
time, recognized room for improvement. She explained, “It
was exciting – but I definitely want to up our score for sure.”
At the team’s most recent competition, the Quinnipiac
University Cheer and Dance Challenge, the Blue Dragons
placed sixth in hip hop and did not place in jazz. These results,
although worse than their placing in their first competition,
have not discouraged the dancers. The team was satisfied with
their performance against stiff competition.
When the team isn’t practicing or competing, they perform
their hip-hop routine at home basketball games during halftime.
The team hopes for support in their upcoming competitions
and basketball home games.

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Dance Team’s plans for the winter season