They like to act, hang out with friends and get good grades.
Most of all, members of the Marana High School Dance Team like to dance and have fun. With their teacher, it's not hard to do both.
They proved that Friday and Saturday, with more than a dozen other teams from across Arizona during the seventh annual Tucson Hip Hop Show held at Marana High School. In front of a packed audience, dancers took to the stage to perform moves, dances and choreography, getting cheers, hoots and hollers in response.
Jennifer Baron has led the Marana High School Dance Team for the past two years. She has a background of teaching dance at Showbiz Kidz Danz, and 18 years of dancing and instructing. She also has been teaching in the Marana School District for 11 years.
Baron got started when someone asked her if she could put together a dance group to perform at basketball games. She's been going strong ever since, now amassing 50 national titles. Baron has 19 competing dance teams at Showbiz Kidz Danz. With her Marana team, she competes on the state and national level in jazz and hip-hop.
Last year, Marana High School had the state and regional champion team in hip-hop, and runner-up at state and second in regionals with jazz. At nationals, Marana placed 13th out of 70 teams in hip-hop. During its first year competing in jazz, the dance team took 15th place at nationals.
"I defiantly specialize in the general effect of looking at the routine and making the changes after the choreography has been taught," Baron said. "For Marana, we have choreographers from L.A. to teach our national's pieces. And then after they teach the pieces, I'll do all the whole 'effect' of the routine … to make it a winning routine."
She now has 15 girls on the Marana Dance Team, and dozens more on teams from her dance studio and other teams at Marana High School who performed during the annual event.
Mallory Kelley, a senior, danced when she was younger, then didn't dance until she was in high school. Kelley took a beginning dance class her freshman year, then tried out for the dance team her sophomore year. She really has enjoyed having Baron as a coach. "We couldn't have asked for a better coach," Kelley said.
The Marana Dance Team worked on its performance two hours per day, four times a week for two months straight. The dancers don't seem to mind.
Kirsten Gaskell, a Marana sophomore, has been dancing since she was about three years old, performing ballet, tap and jazz. She had never tried hip-hop dancing until last year, when she tried out for the dance team.
"This is only my second year, but I love it, it's so fun," Gaskell said. "You really have to work all of your muscles in your body. It's not just using a few specific muscles. It is really full of energy and it gets the crown pumped."
Marana sophomore Summer Tassin has been dancing since she was in fourth grade. She never had an interest in "rough sports," and found cheerleading didn't work out, either. But Tassin found a passion in dancing.
"My most favorite part is being on the stage and feeling like no one can touch you, it's your own space," Tassin said. "It's just a great feeling – its indescribable."
She enjoys the other dancers on her team, saying they are all like sisters to one another.
"They are really a close-knit group of girls," Baron said. "They are very respectful, all working towards a common goal."