Dance Team About More Than Competition


Maxwell Baek, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Imagine an activity that requires cat-like balance, the flexibility of a gymnast, a perfectly tuned sense of rhythm and tempo, as well as a flair for the dramatic and the courage to perform in front of full auditoriums. 

While this may sound like an impossible combination, this is the exact type of individual that is on the Notre Dame Academy Dance team. Led by captains Lily Kaye and Anna Zimmerman, the Dance Team has been a fixture of Notre Dame athletics for years. While they are not technically considered a sports team, they possess all of the athletic and disciplinary qualities that make athletes great. 

To get a better sense of what goes on behind the scenes with the tremendous individuals that traditionally put on a show for the entire student body at all kinds of major sporting events, such as the extremely popular football games, the Tritonian caught up with Anna Zimmerman. 

One thing that she made clear is that they aren’t just an entertainment group for halftime. They participate in high-level dance competitions against other dance squads. 

Led by Coach Laura Renier and Coach Karman Bushman, the team prepares high-level routines that are performed by Alora Schnieder, Katie Zasuly, Grace Nimmer, and Grace Delvaux as juniors, and Brooke Tuzska, a freshman, along with seniors Zimmermann, Kaye, and Anna Kyles.

The team members make sure they keep their distances during this pandemic. They had to re-space all of their routines so they are always six feet apart. They also wear masks at all times and took all lifts out of their routines.

“We are not doing a cake routine this year because we are not allowed to touch one another or hook up,” says Zimmerman. 

They still have their competitions, but it is all virtual. They have to film themselves doing their routines in full costume during practice of the week of the competition. Then they send that video in for judging on the day of the competition. While this is going on, they zoom together and watch the other dancers and awards be given out. 

“We usually zoom together as a team to watch awards which are usually live streamed on YouTube by the host school,” said Zimmerman. 

Currently, they are unsure if they will be able to compete in person. 

“I’m not sure if we’ll have that opportunity this year mostly because COVID restrictions make it very hard to safely have a crowd of people,” said Lily Kaye. 

Despite not knowing if they will be able to compete this year in person, they still keep their dance skills up.

“It’s so important to keep up our dance skills because we are constantly competing and performing and we want to always look our best. Without keeping up with our dance skills, we would not have been able to place well at competitions and go to state so many years in a row,” said Kaye. 

While the competitions certainly are a major source of motivation for these dancers, most team members were originally drawn to the passion of dancing that has stood the test of some of the most confusing and challenging time periods of our generation. 

“I think most of us like the security of having practice to come to every day, especially during these unprecedented times. With all the changes this year I feel that even though our team is smaller than normal, we have a really good shot at placing well. Every other team is in the same situation, and I think that is part of what really motivated the girls. Plus, we all have a true passion for dance,” said Zimmerman. 

The passion of the dance team is the driving force for so many of the team members, but there is still something greater that keeps the team strong even in the toughest times. 

Kaye seems to have the same feelings of dance as Anna Zimmerman. 

“Being on the dance team is so important to me because it’s something I’ve been a part of since freshman year. I’ve made some of my best friends and high school memories on this team. It’s also one of the best things to have a whole team of people who always have your back even when you’re not dancing or practicing.”