Published DateCONWAY — Two dancers from Kennett High School's Dance Team won first place at the Olympic Miss Dance "Step Up 2 Dance" national competition last month.
Linsey Miller, 17, and Tianna Tetreault, 16, traveled to Manchester a few weeks ago, where they competed a contemporary duet in the national competition, and took home "platinum," the highest award given all day.
The two originally competed this past spring at the Olympic Miss Dance regional competition, where they took first place overall. From there, Miller and Tetreault were offered a free ticket to perform their duet at nationals.
"The song we used is titled 'Breathe Me,' by Sia," Miller said. "In the piece, Tianna plays a girl who is really struggling with her life and resorts to hurting herself. Then I play her friend, and I am fighting to come to terms with Tianna's choices and I'm also trying to keep her alive. In the end, Tianna cuts too deep, and that is why we ended the piece with her lying limply in my arms."
Contemporary dance is a style that has emerged in the dance world more recently, around the 1950s, according to the Center for Contemporary Dance. It combines moves from a variety of genres including but not limited to ballet, modern, lyrical, and jazz.
Olympic Miss "Step Up 2 Dance" classifies contemporary as a "fluid, nebulous style of dance, establishing an emotional state with mind-body connection."
The girls are happy to have received recognition for all the hard work they did on this piece. Having competed in the national intermediate category, their "platinum" award granted them a repeat of regionals — first place.
"I couldn't believe it when they called our names," Tetreault said. "I think the message must have went through the most, because I'd say the nerves really got the best of us when we finally performed it."
Miller agrees. "Usually, our competitions are during the school year, when we are dancing every day, for hours. For this, we hadn't actually done the dance in weeks, and just ran it twice before going on stage."
Miller and Tetreault's teammates are very proud of them, and hope their hard work will put the Kennett Dance Team more onto the athletic map at school.
"The dance was amazing," teammate Nicole Bean said, "I cant believe they choreographed something so beautiful. The dance itself made me tear up. More people should respect [the Dance Team], and Linsey and Tianna's success is just one of the reasons why."
It seems to be a common feeling among the KHS dancers that their classmates and even certain faculty members don't take the dance team seriously.
"Sometimes, even my friends joke about us not being a real 'sport' or that we aren't very good dancers," Tetreault said, "Honestly, the best part about going to this competition was finally feeling and knowing the kind of level of dancing we are at."
Miller wishes the team were taken more seriously as an athletic and dedicated group of students.
"We should not be underestimated," she said. "We work incredibly hard, just as hard as any other school sport."
"I'd say harder," Tetreault said, "When the late bus leaves the school, that's when practice ends for the sports teams. Not for us, though. We go off to other dance studios and practice more, we stretch in front of the T.V., we work on our own choreography and moves in our spare time. When we hang out together, we dance. We don't stop, and yet, we aren't looked upon as good, committed dancers."
Holly Fougere, the dance team coach, encourages her team to seek dance classes outside the Lloynd Auditorium, and further their dance abilities as best they can. In addition to the KHS Dance Team, Miller also dances with Tina Titzer's School of Dance in Fryeburg, Maine, and Tetreault dances with Creative Sole in Conway.
"I could not be more proud," Fougere said about the girls' win.
But Miller and Tetreault are equally as proud and grateful for Fougere.
"She puts in way more time than she should," Tetreault said. "She is an amazing coach and role model."
"She really cares about us," Miller added. "Not just as a team, but also as individuals. She shouldn't be underestimated, either."
Fougere plans to let the girls choreograph more for the entire team this year, as in addition to winning first place in their division at nationals, the girls also placed second in student choreography overall.
Miller, Tetreault, Fougere, and the rest of the KHS Dance Team are looking forward to the coming year.
"My goal is to be able to make up a whole dance on my own," Tetreault said.
"And my goal..." Miller said, "is to...stretch more."