SOUTH ELGIN — Seniors Miranda Dubek and Macy Ramos have danced competitively at Rochelle Township High School for each of the last four seasons. Even with their collective experience, nerves were still high as the seniors looked to lead their team back to the IHSA State Championship meet in Bloomington for an unprecedented fifth consecutive season.
Rochelle was one of the 17 schools in Class 1A vying for a slot in the state meet on Saturday, when the Chellettes took the floor for the IHSA Sectional at South Elgin High School. While there was uncertainty in the room before the show, the emotions became joyful when Rochelle was announced as one of the six finalists for next weekend’s state meet. The Chellettes finished fifth out of 17 schools in Class 1A with a score of 78.83 to clinch their berth in the state meet.
“I was extremely nervous because we knew there were a lot of teams there,” Dubek said. “There were a lot of tears from us crying when we were announced and I remember Macy turning to me and screaming in my face... We definitely have a reputation that all of the dancers on our team understand and keep up with. When new dancers come in, we get them ready and show them the mindset that we need to have in order to push ourselves far enough to make it to state.”
Rochelle’s routine is set to the music of Scottish artist Dylan Fraser, whose song “The Storm” booms in the background as the Chellettes move to the music. Senior Abby Dall described the routine as a hard-hitting jazz performance, which teammates said contrasts from the kinds of routines Rochelle has shown in recent years. The 2022-23 season was Rochelle’s first under new head coach Haleigh Nelson, who took the competitive program over from Kass Smith.
“It was hard adjusting to a new coach because we were all so fond of Kass and we felt like we had created a family, but we feel like [Haleigh’s] a part of our family now,” Dall said. “We came together and we learned from girls who came before us that we have to give everything we have because if we don’t do that, then we have no chance of making it to state. We give our all during every practice and we motivate each other to give our all and work as hard as we can.”
From the music to the choreography and the attire, Rochelle will seek to take the competition by storm when the girls begin their run at the IHSA State Championship, which starts with preliminary performances on Friday before concluding with final performance on Saturday. For the team’s senior dancers including four-year members Dubek and Ramos, the competition will serve as one more chance for the girls to share their talents as well as their time together.
“It was a nerve-racking day at the sectional because we weren’t sure if we’d make it based on the season we’ve had,” Ramos said. “Hearing our name called made all of us go crazy. I thought our performance went pretty well and even though it wasn’t perfect, I felt like we took a huge step forward from where we were earlier in the season. Our routine is a genre of dance that we aren’t used to, but we’ve been able to express ourselves a lot more. I’m excited to perform under the lights one more time and it’ll be a really fun experience to have before graduation.”