Twenty-nine teams from cities throughout western Washington competed in the Live to Dance competition Saturday, February 23, 2019 at Capital High School in Olympia. Live to Dance was the largest regular event of the year for WIAA High School Dance teams and was a way for teams to qualify for upcoming WIAA District competition or prepare, practice and refine routines in preparation for state events.
Local Thurston County High School teams were represented from Black Hills, Capital, North Thurston, Olympia, Timberline, Tumwater, River Ridge and Yelm. Tumwater heads into WIAA competition as the State Champion in 2A for the dance/hip hop and pom categories.
Capital looks to increase results from 2018 when they placed 2nd in 3A pom and 3rd in the military categories. For Capital Cougarette senior Meysa Hayvaz it’s a fun chance to see the other schools that will compete for the state title and refine as a team as they prepare for districts. “We push each other to be better,” states Hayvaz. Teams head to districts next week and compete at the state tournament March 22-23, 2019 at the Yakima Valley SunDome
For 14 years Capital’s dance team has hosted the competition. This year’s event hosted the most athletes in the events history with 29 teams and 627 athletes competing due to the “Snowmageddon” snow storm that canceled other qualifying dance events.
The Cougarettes are led by coaches Jan Kiefer and Jaci Gruhn. Kiefer enters her 22nd and final season in charge of her team. “I feel good with where the team started, where it has been and where it is going from now on,” stated Kiefer. “It has been an honor and a privilege to be at Capital and part of the program.”
High school dance teams require extreme commitment and sacrifice for the ladies and gentlemen that make each team. Some teams train six days a week, anywhere from two to six hours a day along with extra work put in to refine routines. The sport creates bonds that lasts beyond high school. Caleb Akana from River Ridge High School loves the excitement, and competitive nature of dance and says it is not like other sports. “Dance has a really good vibe,” Akana shared. “We practice pretty hard and are all super close and like a family.”
Tumwater heads back to the 2A WIAA State competition ready to defend the first place titles it holds. Assistant coach Kayla Easley loves the chance for the Tumwater teams to compete at the Capital event. “It is our last opportunity to perform our routines we put on the floor as we prepare for districts and state,” recalled Easley. “It is just really helpful for us so we are ready to go.”