HomeMayDance and cheer teams struggle with collaboration on, off field

Dance and cheer teams struggle with collaboration on, off field

Published Nov. 8, 2022

By MINNA TROKEL

After years of cheerleaders being the only performers in the CHS sports scene, the CHS dance team joined the show a year ago, and the collaboration has since experienced pushback from student members on both sides.

The two extracurricular activities, led by cheer coach Victoria Vernon and dance teacher Kristine Tarozzi, currently make up the bulk of school rally and football game entertainment. The similarities of the activities make their specific duties hard to define.

“Before next year, we’re going to sit down and have a paper that says this is what dance team does and this is what the cheer team does,” says Tarozzi, who along with Vernon hopes to continue the connection between the two teams and value their collaborative performances.

The different styles of performance is a welcome change in the eyes of the coaches. 

“Our teams are different and provide a variety of performance types,” says Vernon. “We are able to increase school spirit and game day experience which is a huge goal.” 

The coaches say the main difference between the teams is that cheer does stunting and competitions while dance is solely performance. Tarozzi is adamant about dance remaining this way, mainly because the dancers are already on local teams, meaning they have enough on their plate. 

The dancers themselves share this point of view.

“We aren’t interested in competing, but we want to keep performing at rallies and being on the sidelines raising school spirit,” junior dancer Kate Bunch says.

While the coaches hope to see the teams grow together, the participating students see the situation in a different light. Due to the countless struggles the teams have faced, some performers think separation is the best route. 

One cheerleader says it would be easier for both teams and the audience if the dance team didn’t do sideline cheering, which both coaches and performers acknowledge often causes the audience to confuse the two teams with one another.

Cheerleaders and the dance team (from front) perform before halftime during an Oct. 29 home football game. (photo by MINNA TROKEL)

“The teams have two separate dances that they perform at the same time, and some people think this is confusing,” notes Tarozzi, who says this style of performance makes the cheers more engaging, and isn’t interested in changing it.

Some performers say that it is important to keep in mind how new the dance team is when considering the challenges the teams have faced.

“This is our first real trial year,” says senior Kennedy Rutherford, dance co-captain and founder. “Last year, we didn’t know what we were doing, but now we are talking more with the cheerleaders and dancing together with them.”

The cheerleaders, who have much more experience on the field, also acknowledge the inherent challenges that come with new changes.

“We’ve never experienced this because the dancers weren’t on the field with us last year,” says junior cheer co-captain Lily Marciano, who attributes much of the frustration that has grown between the teams to their lack of collaborative experience.

Both groups hope that with time comes change, and that the organizational issues currently preventing the teams from fully enjoying themselves on the field will be solved. 

The performers also hope to see their respective teams grow in size, which is not an issue for the dancers due to their connection to the dance program, but is for cheer, who have been struggling since the beginning of the pandemic. Sophomore cheerleader Sara Martin notes that the eight person team is in need of four more people to qualify for competitions.

The cheerleaders, many of whom hope to attend a competition during their time at CHS, are hoping to see interest in cheer grow through the underclassmen. 

“I want the team to take a field trip to the middle school to talk to them personally,” Marciano says. “Whether it be a slideshow or performing some cheers, we just need to introduce more boys and girls to cheer.” 

For now, the teams are trying to work together through mutual understanding and open-mindedness, and plan on performing together during the basketball season.

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