Three Creston Community High School dancers are headed for state dance competition Nov. 18. In addition the CCHS Peppers, the CCHS color guard and the Southwestern Community College dance team will compete in the team competition. The Iowa High School and College State Dance Team Championship will be held at Wells Fargo Arena and Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines Nov. 17 through 19.
Senior Jurnee Harvey and sophomores Trinity Woody and Emma Pantini will be competing in the solo competition.
Peppers coach Brenna Baker said the competition will be different this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. Individual state competition will be held the same day as team competition in an effort to limit travel by the participants. For team dance, the dancers must be at least 6 feet apart in all formations. During transitions, dancers are allowed to pass within 6 feet.
Because of the restrictions, stunts or lifts are not allowed so Creston has eliminated the coed portion of their usual dance performances this year, instead performing in lights and lyrical dance.
In 2019, Harvey placed 9th at state competition. This year she will be dancing a contemporary piece to “Amen” by Andra Day. In the past, Harvey has had the Bill Riley talent competitions to help her get prepared for this event, but since those were not held this year, she has had to do much of it on her own.
Harvey credits Baker and her dance teacher Adonica Struhar for helping her improve over the years.
“Something that I’m really grateful for is that I’ve always had the chance to improve,” Harvey said. “My teachers Brenna and Adonica have given me those opportunities. ... I think that’s really great about being in dance long term.”
After graduation, Harvey plans to attend Southwestern Community College and be a part of their dance team. She will also work with her sister’s dance studio in Waukee, Premier Dance Project.
Woody is participating in state dance for the second time, placing 5th last year. This year she will be dancing a contemporary routine to “The Bird” by SYML.
Woody said she has worked on strengthening her legs this year after undergoing surgery in 2019. She has done more solo practice than usual, but she said she and the other two solo competitors are ready.
“Us three, we’re pretty strong dancers,” Woody said. “Last year we did well. I hope that this year we can do well again.”
Woody dances with Leslie’s Dance & Tumbling.
For her first year as a soloist at state dance, Pantini will be performing a contemporary solo to “This Ends Now.” She said the COVID-19 restrictions have brought extra stress to the competition this year.
“It’s been a little stressful not knowing if we’re going to be performing or sending in videos,” Pantini said. “But overall it’s been really fun to do work on the solo and with the other girls.”
Pantini said she has no expectations from the solo contest.
“This is my first year so I’m just hoping to do pretty good ... just go out there and do my best,” she said.
She said she particularly appreciates the help she has gotten from her choreographer Cassity Conley and her dance instructor Leslie Tyler.
The judges for the competition will be evaluating the performances virtually this year. A virtual awards ceremony will be held 1 p.m. Dec. 5
“This spring it became clear many aspects of a typical dance season would need to be re-imagined,” Andrea Dana, ISDTA executive director, said. “Although things will look different this year, make no mistake, these students are hear to compete, and they want to win.”
“It’s been a challenge, but at least we’re having state,” Baker said.