The Marana High School dance team flew to Orlando to compete in the National Dance Championship where it had its best finish in six years by placing fifth in the competition.
“When we knew we got in at least the top five we all started crying,” said Kandace Hale, head coach of the Marana dance team. “The girls were ecstatic and you could just see how happy they were.”
The National Dance Championship is put on by the Universal Dance Association and occurs yearly. The Marana dance team competed in the small varsity hip-hop dance category, which is for teams that have 14 or less people participating. In the prelims, they competed against 77 other teams. From there, they had to compete in three more rounds before being told what place they received.
Hale came to Tucson three years ago and was on staff for the Universal Dance Association when she received a phone call asking her to teach a technique class at Marana High School. After teaching the class, Hale was told that the school was in need of a head coach and was asked if she would want to take the head coach position. She has now been the coach for the past two years and is proud of how her girls have grown and improved over the years.
Rather than just focusing on hip hop dance, Hale has made an effort to teach her girls how to do other dances, one of which is a dance with pompoms. Another change that came, when Hale became head coach, was how involved the dance team became in school events. This year they danced at a high school football and a couple of basketball games, which they hadn’t done in previous years.
“They were part of the school but they didn’t anything for the school,” said Hale. “When I got there, I was like this team is a part of the school so they should dance for the school.”
The Marana dance team’s reputation has grown, and in the past couple of years they’ve improved in their standings at the national level. Since they were in the top five this year, the Marana dance team gained national recognition by being featured on ESPN2 on March 3.