Dancing their way to the top

INDIAN TRAIL – Sun Valley High School didn’t have a dance team five months ago. But several months of intense work and preparation have paid off, as the newly formed Sun Valley High School Dance Team recently won second place in its first competition.

Headed up by teacher Jermatic Chambers, the dance team became an official varsity sports team at the school in August. Comprised of eight student dancers – Skye Hernandez, Jada Washington, Amber Alexander, Kalina Mackay, Brittany McVickers, Hailey Dilena, Destiny Holloway and Gabrielle Farlowe – the team performs a variety of dance styles, such as pompom routines, jazz and hip-hop dances.

The dancers have showed off their moves at recent basketball games, as well as in front of a panel of judges in the Fort Mill Invitational Competition on Nov. 9 – where they took home the second-place trophy. But the road to success hasn’t been easy.

The team began as an after-school club two years ago. According to team member Skye Hernandez, the club wasn’t very organized or diverse, and some club members didn’t take it seriously enough.

“We wanted to do competitions … but with the kind of team we had and the
dancing we did, we weren’t ready,” she said.

But Chambers recognized the students’ talent and potential to become a successful dance group, so she decided to pursue forming a school dance team.

“All girls are not cheerleaders. Some girls are dancers, and that doesn’t mean they’re cheerleaders. They deserve a place to dance in the school,” Chambers

Because the team is recognized as a varsity sport, students are required to have previous dance experience and try out for the team just like any other sport. They also have to abide by a strict attendance and practice policy, and also are required to keep their grades up.

“It makes you want to strive more for good grades, push harder in academics, (which) makes you better as a dancer, too,” team member Amber Alexander said.

The dance team has practiced three to four days a week for up to four hours – both in the afternoons after school and later into the evening after a dinner break – for the past several months. They’ve also attended basketball games, where they performed their routines.

Chambers knew her girls were talented, but she and the team members had no idea what to expect when performing for the judges during the Nov. 9 competition – they simply showed up and, quite literally, put their best foot forward. The team was shocked and extremely excited when they were chosen as the second-place

“It gives us a lot of confidence,” team member Kalina Mackay said. “For our second (competition), we’re really going to strive for first (place) because we know what to expect this time.”

One of the things the students believe gave them an edge over other contestants was the variety of dances they perform and the diversity of the team members’ backgrounds.

“We put in what we learn at our (own dance) studios and try to combine it into one dance,” team member Brittany McVickers said. “The fact that we take a variety of dance helped us here.”

But the team placing second simply confirmed what Chambers already knew – her girls are extremely talented.

“It was validation that someone else sees how good I know they are,” she said. “It was validation to me that, yes, I know they can do it, and I want them to reach their full potential every time.”

The dance team is taking a short break from practicing over the holidays before pushing full steam ahead toward more basketball game performances, including Senior Night, a spring fashion show and another competition in April. And their time together isn’t just helping them build talent – it’s also building long-lasting

“None of us were friends before like we are now,” Brittany said.


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