Dance: Chellettes finish 10th in IHSA 1A State Championship

RTHS dancers place second at Interstate 8 meet, fifth in IHSA 1A Sycamore Sectional

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ROCHELLE — Rather than taking the floor and performing for a large audience inside a crowded gymnasium or auditorium, the Rochelle Chellettes found themselves dancing for a video camera in an empty gym with zero fans only themselves and their coaches.

The change was one of many adjustments the Chellettes needed to make during the 2020-21 competitive dance season as they prepared for the IHSA 1A Sycamore Sectional, which was conducted entirely through a virtual format this past weekend. While the circumstances were quite different, Rochelle still managed to perform at a high level, scoring 75.17 points and finishing fifth in the sectional competition to qualify for the IHSA State Championships.

“We weren’t really sure if we would make it because we had some very good teams in our sectional,” senior Jessica Vagle said. “We had a lot of energy during our sectional performance and I thought our presentation was really good. We’ve worked on our technique a lot and we focused on cleaning up some of our smaller mistakes for the state performance.”

It’s the third consecutive season the Chellettes have reached the state meet. Like the sectional finals, the state finals will also be held virtually, with all routines airing live on Saturday, March 6. Qualifying teams were required to submit their routines by Tuesday, March 2 and adhere to specific guidelines including face coverings and 6 feet of distance between dancers at all times. Contact skills including lifts, stunts and partner stunts were not allowed this season.

“We were really relieved and excited,” senior Makaila Crump said. “It’s been a very tough season because it’s been so short. The virtual format has been both a positive and a negative for us because we don’t have as much adrenaline as we would when performing in front of an audience, but we can record our routine multiple times and submit our best recording. We can’t do as much as we did last season, but we’re all trying to do the best we can.”

Unlike the traditional school year, where the Chellettes have the summer, fall and most of the winter months to prepare for the postseason, the dance team was primarily limited to only January and February due to COVID-19 restrictions on athletic activities. The lyrical jazz style fueled Rochelle’s success last season, when the Chellettes placed sixth in the state finals, and the girls performed a similar style this season, dancing to “Control” by pop artist Zoe Wees.

“It’s been so different, but we had a lot of fun and it was emotional because it was one of our last times performing together,” senior Kayla Keilman said. “Our routine last season was much more difficult, but I thought our routine this year was a good fit for what our skills are. The virtual format hurt us a little bit because we couldn’t touch each other or do any of our duet movements, but even though it was a very different experience, it was a fun experience overall. We focused a lot on our turns, which are something my teammates and I love to do.”

Rochelle competed in the IHSA 1A State Championship on Saturday, March 6, finishing 10th out of 30 schools with 78.24 points. Prior to finishing fifth in the Sycamore sectional meet, Rochelle competed in the Interstate 8 Conference virtual meet earlier this season, finishing second overall with 79.9 points.