Dance team looks for growth

Numbers are down in the Monticello dance program this year, but excitement is up.
The Magic dance team, which hosted a conference kicks meet on Monday night is already three meets into a new season. It’s been a fast-paced start to the season as the dancers learn the system of new head coach Breanna Belland on the fly.
“This team hasn’t had to learn a new system before,” said Belland. “But for only having two weeks to whip these dances together and compete at the varsity level, the girls have gotten it together.”
Belland, and her assistant coach, Christine Adamski, are both Monticello dance team alumni and both 2010 MHS graduates. They are looking to bring a positive attitude, strong work ethic and a lot of excitement to a program that is currently low on numbers.
Monticello has just seven dancers on the varsity kick squad right now, a number that is well below average.
“It puts a lot more pressure on us,” said Belland.”You can’t visually do as much with the dance.”
So the focus for the coaches is on making the dance experience both positive and productive as they try to grow the numbers.
“It’s really vital that we keep girls coming back,” said Belland. “We just want to role model how much fun the dance team is and that we are successful. All of the work that we put in is definitely worth it.”
The coaches both say the team has been putting in a lot of work early this season, and so far it seems to have paid off.
The Magic had a strong showing at home Monday night, finishing fourth out of seven conference teams.
Prior to that, Monticello competed at a Maple Grove Invitation and at a conference jazz event in Chisago Lakes.
At the Maple Grove event Monticello competed against state tournament level teams. They placed last, but were happy with their scores, posting an average jazz score of 45 points per judge and an average kick score of 36.2 points.
The coaches agreed that seeing strong competition was a good learning experience for their team.
“It really shows what they’re working for,” said Belland. “It’s really good for the girls to see all levels of teams.”
And in the opening meet of the year, Monticello took fifth during their debut in the new-look Mississippi 8.
The Magic averaged 46.6 points per judge.
“It went really well,” said Belland.” We were only 30 points away from the next place up, which is definitely attainable for our team.”
Having a few new teams in the conference this year (Chisago Lakes, North Branch, and St. Francis) has been an enjoyable addition for the Magic.
“It’s so much fun,” said Belland. “It’s not so predetermined.”
The closeness of the conference race has the Magic confident they can move up if they continue their hard work throughout the year.
So far, that hard work has been spearheaded by their three captains, seniors Kayla Gilles and Samantha Belland and junior Morgan Dahlke.
“Our captains this year have stepped up more than we could have ever imagined,” said Belland.
And while the Magic are low on numbers, they aren’t short on ability.
“Our varsity team overall has a lot of talent,” added Adamski.
Joining the captains on the varsity team is Emma Doebler, Kayla Kleinsteuber, Lia Frucci, Emily Dahlke, and, for jazz, Samantha Ziwicki.
Despite the low numbers, the combination of talent and energy  has the new coaches excited about the direction the program is headed.
“Ridiculously excited,” corrected Belland.
Monticello is back in action on Saturday, Dec. 7 when they head to Forest Lake for an invitational. The next conference meet is at North Branch on Dec. 9.

Contact Clay Sawatzke at clay.sawatzke@ecm-inc.com

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