(Above) Members of the CLHS Dance Team include front row (L-R): Emily LeFevre, Sky Toyne, Madeline McKenna, Kourtney Verhalen, Savannah Williams, Stephanie Penning, Bella Parker, Rylee Smith. Back row (L-R): Ava Ollenburg, Bella Clabaugh, Jadyn Heesch, Cheyenne Cole, Sarah Petersen, Mia DeVries, Brooke Schulze, Cale Schmitz, Avah Hogg, Paige Schultz. -Submitted photo
by Michelle Watson
The Clear Lake High School Dance Team took the Wells Fargo Arena by storm when they attended the Iowa State Dance Team Competition Thursday and Friday, Dec. 5-6, in Des Moines. The team really brought home the hardware, with three Championship trophies, capturing the elusive “Triple Crown” honor.
Thursday, the team competed in Class VIII Pom. They performed a referee themed routine choreographed by Richelle Morrissey. Their performance earned them their fifth state championship in Pom and one of only three Judges Choice awards.
“In anticipation of going to Nationals, we really tried to take our pom to a new level this year. We added a lot more team technique, and more difficult choreography to our expected clean and strong movement. It took the team a long time to build up the stamina to execute the routine- and perform it, so it was really exciting to finally see it come together,” said Coach Liz LeFevre.
Friday, the team competed in Class IV Jazz and Class V Hip Hop. The team had earned Jazz State Championships the previous two years and felt a lot of pressure to come out on top again this year. They performed a fast paced routine to ‘Proud Mary’ choreographed by Katie McNeely.
“We performed a preview of our jazz routine 10 days before state, and we were not happy with our performance. Over Thanksgiving break, we made a lot of changes to the routine. Finally it started to click,” said LeFevre.
The team earned First Place in Class 4 Jazz.
The Clear Lake High School Dance Team also had the responsibility of performing the last routine of the entire competition.
“After bringing home state championship in hip hop in 2015 and 2016, it has been our Achilles heel at state,” said LeFevre. “We knew our team members were strong hip-hop dancers and we just kept falling short. Being the last routine of the competition added another layer of pressure. We knew the audience would be jammed packed in anticipation of awards. This year we worked very closely with choreographer Michelle Barlas. After working with us for years, she really understands our strengths and weakness and she also really pushed her choreography adding in a lot of collegiate level tricks and visuals.”
After a two-year hiatus, the team returned home as State Champions in Hip Hop.
The team has been chasing the elusive ‘Triple Crown’ for a couple years. Perfecting three routines to state champion level is no easy task, according to LeFevre. This was Clear Lake’s first ‘Triple Crown’ in school history, and in fact was the only school at the state competition this year to earn that distinction.
“The dance team overcame a lot of obstacles this season preparing for state, injury and illness had been plaguing the team all fall. Team members continued to fight through practices and performances, always keeping their goals in mind,” said LeFevre,
The team also earned a Distinguished Academic Excellence Award for having an average team GPA between 3.5 and 4.0.
Recordings of the dance team’s state performances can be viewed on their Facebook page- Clear Lake Dance Team.
The team is coached by Liz LeFevre and assistants Katy Lubkeman, Stephanie Olk and Ellie Schulze.