“Our Legacy”: The La Salle Dance Team Heads to State for the First Time in Over a Decade

Dakota Canzano, Editor

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  • The La Salle dance team celebrated senior night after their OSAA state competition.

  • “If you get pushed back, you just kind of have to take it with a grain of salt, and then let go of it,” senior and captain Aislinn McCarthy said of her experiences with dance at La Salle. “If you hold on to it, it’s going to make your life ten times more [hard], but if you can just express your frustration through dance, it makes it so much easier.”

  • Junior Nyah Torbert practices turns while warming up.

  • Dancers warm up before recording their routine for the virtual submission in the OSAA competition.

  • The La Salle dance team performed a contemporary dance routine for state, to the song “Don’t Worry About Me” by Frances.

  • “I was just really proud of us for all that we did this year especially,” senior and captain Aislinn McCarthy said. “Just knowing that we had [done] what we could… that was more than I could have ever asked for.”

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During the freshman year of seniors Samantha Dillard, Olivia Galbraith, Aislinn McCarthy, and MaryGrace Mott, La Salle didn’t have a dance team, and as dancers who wanted a platform to showcase their talents, they were determined to reverse this notion. 

Some of the dancers recall spending countless hours in the athletic office in order to keep what was a club at the time active, hire a coach, and eventually form an official team. 

Now, La Salle has an official dance team that is coached by Nikki Meyer ‘04 and assistant coach Kylie Sepich, and has made its way to an OSAA dance competition, which took place virtually due to COVID-19 on April 30. The team was awarded an “outstanding” rating for contemporary dance.

Additionally, the team has gained attention since the beginning of this year with over 22 incoming freshmen showing interest in dance. 

The dancers that advocated for a team four years ago currently fill the roles of captains and a team manager, and are appreciated by their teammates for leaving behind a legacy. 

“They really fought to create this program and I don’t think they even realized how big it would become and how quickly it would grow,” junior Nyah Torbert said. “They just created an opportunity for all of us to find a place and to find a family, and so, I’m just really grateful for that.”

When Torbert was a freshman, she was disappointed that La Salle didn’t have a dance team, so she decided to join one at another local high school. However, after receiving an email that La Salle hired a dance coach for what was a club at the time, she felt conflicted as to whether she should continue dancing with her local high school or join La Salle in their efforts to bring back a dance team that existed in years past.

“It was kind of a hard decision for me because I had no idea what it was going to become, but I quit my other dance team to join this team and it was definitely the best decision that I could have made for myself,” Torbert said. 

Torbert looks up to dance team manager Mott. “We’ve just always really connected and she’s always been someone that I could talk to and that I could come to, if I needed help,” Torbert said.” She just works hard at everything she does and she’s a big inspiration to me.”

Mott had been dancing for fourteen years until she injured herself during her sophomore year, which stopped her from dancing. But, Meyer offered Mott a position as a manager, and from then on, Mott has helped “just be another source for everyone and still be a part of the team, even though I can’t dance,” she said. 

Mott said that she hasn’t forgotten the day she, Dillard, Galbraith, and McCarthy all walked into dance practice for the first time after La Salle just hired a coach for the team, which was originally a club moderated by a teacher. 

“I still remember the day I walked into dance practice and that was the first time I’d ever met Nikki and Kylie,” Mott said. “That’s probably one of my favorite memories.”

Mott said that ever since she was a sophomore, Meyer had been planning their final choreographed dance and song “Don’t Worry About Me” by Frances. This year’s theme for the state performance was “Our Legacy.” 

“We’re all sisters through each other, and every single person that has been involved… over the past four years has helped us get to where we are today and I could not be more thankful for that because it was a group effort,” McCarthy said.

In their performance for OSAA, the routine was set up to highlight the three dance captains in the center, as they fought for the dance team and are known as leaders to the underclassmen. Surrounding the dance captains were the other members of the team looking up to the seniors while performing with them for the last time.

At the end of the routine, the captains exit the floor as Torbert, junior Audrey Wersch, and sophomore Sofia Burgher step into their place to signify taking on the leadership role next year.

“Performing for the last time made me really sad,” Dillard said. “I have been dancing for nearly over sixteen years and having it be over is surreal.” 

Reflecting on the state performance, the captains were proud of how they executed the contemporary dance routine. 

“I think everyone is just really proud of how they performed,” Mott said. “I don’t think anyone’s really caring about the score specifically. I think it’s just feeling accomplished that we made it to state and had the opportunity to perform in such an emotional and meaningful piece to all of us.”

When thinking about the seniors and the impact they have left Torbert said, I would say that they have left a really big impact for all of us. If it weren’t for their dedication, their freshman year, none of us would be here.”