HUNTLEY — Lady Hub senior Tatianna Contreras wasn’t expecting to hear Rochelle’s name called when she and her teammates awaited the final results of the IHSA Competitive Dance Sectional at Huntley High School this past weekend. But when the final scores were tabulated and Rochelle was announced as a top-6 state qualifier for Class 1A, Contreras cried tears of joy.
Rochelle placed fifth out of 13 teams in Class 1A, scoring 80.17 points to finish less than half of a point behind fourth-ranked River Grove (Guerin) and under three points behind 1A champion Genoa-Kingston (82.40). The purple and white will compete in the IHSA State Championships at the Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington from Jan. 25-26.
“Our routine was mostly lyrical and some of the biggest changes we had to make were making sure that everybody looked the same,” Contreras said. “This routine means everything to me since it’s my last year dancing with the high school and having Kass [Smith] as my coach. Advancing to state this year is the most amazing feeling for us seniors.”
Rochelle will dance at the state championships for the second time in three years after the team placed second at the sectional level and advanced during the 2016-17 school year. Senior Taylor Kreider is one of a few dancers who remain from Rochelle’s last state-qualifying team, and she said the team’s competitive spirit was a prime motivator for getting back to the state level.
“We all have the same goal when it comes to competing, and that’s making it to state,” Kreider said. “You really have to have good chemistry as a team, and we and believe in one another and know that we can all do it. When they announced our name for state, I instantly started crying out of joy. I was so excited to hear that were were actually going.”
Rochelle qualified for state behind its lyrical dance routine to the 1961 song “Stand by Me” by Ben E. King. Floating across the floor in their navy blue uniforms, the team’s goal was to blend the song’s upbeat tone in a visual representation of love and happiness. For senior Alva Valle, the performance was a complete demonstration of the hard work she and her teammates put in since the start of the school year.
“It’s all about pulling each other in for support and helping one another to have confidence during practice and performances,” Valle said. “This is a great way to end my senior year with a song and style that has meant so much to me all my life. Going to state is literally a dream come true for us seniors, and we will cherish every moment while having fun at state.”
Sixteen dancers make up the Rochelle squad this year including senior Logan Lidren, who performs as the only boy on the team. Lidren has danced since he was in second grade, and while he’s been used to dancing with mostly girls throughout his life, he said he hopes to be a role model for younger male dancers.
“I think the hardest part of being the only boy on the team this year was my first basketball game,” Lidren said. “I was terrified to mess up because I knew everyone would be watching, but it went very well and it was great to surprise the audience, especially when I slid down into the splits. Dance is a hobby and a sport for me, and hopefully more boys will not be afraid to join the dance team.”