IHSA Hosts first Competitive Dance Finals

By Alyssa Donovan

January 25, 2013 Updated Jan 25, 2013 at 10:54 PM CDT

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.-- Illinois High School Association State Finals are nothing new to the twin cities.

But this competition is a first.

High school dance teams from across Illinois took over the U.S. Cellular Coliseum. The first ever Illinois High School Association Dance State Finals kicked off Friday morning. Teams traveled from all over the state to show off their creativity and talent.

But for the dancers of University High School in Normal, this routine was a chance to send a message. U-High team Captain Nathalie Kiesewetter said, “It's about power and corruption of the government and other political leaders and powerful leaders in America... And it's basically how much power they have and how much we allow them to control our society and everything within it."

Kiesewetter says the unique theme may give them the edge they need… It’s gotten them this far.

Over the past several months 200 teams competed in Regional’s and only the top 90 are here at the State finals.

This is the first year that IHSA is recognizing dance as a sport. Choosing to have the very first dance finals here in Bloomington is bringing in the business of over 2,000 dancers and their friends and families.

Assistant Executive Director of IHSA, Tracie Henry said, "It's a huge impact for a community we have people from all across Illinois that stay multiple nights visit the restaurants and also go out and visit malls and all kinds of other areas of the town."

But for the judges, the focus is on the performances. They are narrowing down the top ten teams in each division to compete Saturday for the state titles.

U-high Head Coach Laurie Merriman says she can't imagine how the judges will make a decision.
Merriman said, "We only had the opportunity to watch 4 or 5 before we had to get serious about warming up and they were all amazing and they were all different."

But now that dance is officially an IHSA sport.... There has to be winners and there has to be losers.

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