Team with their first place trophy. Photo courtesy of Ellery Newman.
Team with their first place trophy. Photo courtesy of Ellery Newman.

LFHS Dance Team Wins Back to Back State Championships

The team travels to Florida this weekend to compete in Nationals

The Varsity Dance Team took first place overall in the 2A division at the IHSA State Championship in Bloomington to claim back-to-back State Championships. 

In the final round of State, the team secured their victory with a score of a 98.02– the highest point total in 2A history.

“Winning again seemed almost too good to be true. But once we found out that we won, all the emotions just flooded out and we felt so proud because we knew we accomplished something so great and rewarding. Each and every practice we gave our all, and after this accomplishment, we felt like it was all worth it,” said junior Amelia Hansen. 

After their victory, the team was greeted back at LFHS with a police escort for the new 2024 State Champions.  This weekend, the team will travel to Orlando to compete at the UDA Nationals against teams from all over the country. The team will compete both their Pom and Jazz dances.

Days before State, junior Lyla Carney, unfortunately, injured her ankle during warmups before a performance for a Varsity Boys basketball game halftime show. This required the team to re-block the dance just days before the competition weekend. 

Going into day one of State, the Scouts competed against 30 other high schools across Illinois. After the first day, the Scouts were in first place with Geneva High School trailing by 1.1 points. Even with the top score, senior Ellery Newman said she felt that “they could do better” and “knew what they needed to bring to finals the next day.”

The team spent the first night reviewing corrections from their coaches.

“At the hotel, usually teams will go to studios to practice for finals, but we’ve never done that. The coaches give us a list of corrections and we go into such specific detail of all parts of our dances to find ways to boost our points,” said senior Captain Rachel Silvers. “We spend the rest of the night visualizing our dance so that everyone has all of the things in their mind to perform their best the next day.”

Their success comes from hours of determination and hard work. Over winter break, the team spent over 40 hours a week perfecting their routines. 

“Winter break is our biggest push of the season. We have practice every day, if not once, twice a day, two four-hour practices or one eight hour practice. Along with additional workouts,” said Newman. “We learn our dances in November which is much later in the season than most teams, so we use the break to really push.”

Heading into State, the team had already had a very successful start to their season: They earned first and second place at the Lake Zurich Invite, first place for Pom and Jazz at UDA Chicagoland, second at NSC conference, and first at their Sectionals. 

Team winning Sectionals. Photo courtesy of Ellery Newman.

Going into State this year after such a great weekend at sectionals, we knew that all we had to do was put our all out on that floor. We had all the adrenaline from successful performances in the past and we wanted to continue on that path but really dancing for each other at state. Dancing with all of the emotion and showing what Lake Forest can do,” said sophomore Josie Irvin. 

Team preforming at State. Photo courtesy of Ellery Newman.

This year, their Jazz routine was performed to Taylor Swift’s “This Love” choreographed by Ricky Ruiz. Their  Pom routine is a mashup of Eminem, Panic at the Disco, and many other artists. It was choreographed by April Gallagher. The Scouts claimed the State title with their Jazz performance. 

While competing at Sectionals, the team scored the highest scoring of all 2A high schools with a 93.03, beating Burlington Central with an 88.23 in second. Going into the competition as the reigning champions, the team was eager to once again show what they were capable of. 

Photo courtesy of Ellery Newman

In 2022, the team wasn’t able to make it to day two of the competition as they had hoped. However, the 2023 and 2024 teams have bounced back from that defeat to become back-to-back State Champions. 

“It’s definitely liberating to think that you can go from being at the very bottom to the very top in a matter of time just from putting in hard work,” said Silvers. 

“It just goes to prove that even the unimaginable has the possibility to happen if you really work for it,”

— Rachel Silvers

Last year, the team placed 4th in the Pom division and 8th in Jazz in the Large Varsity Category.  However, with their most recent wins, the team is “confident in their skills” and believe they “have the potential to succeed.”  

“All we want is to be able to feel good about the runs we put on the floor. We want to continue to push our performances to be better because placement isn’t our end goal,” said Silvers. 

Photo courtesy of Ellery Newman
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