Dance team earns highest 3A State finish in school history

The Normal Community dance team’s 26th place finish at the IHSA State Dance Competition on Jan. 28 was the program’s best State finish since transitioning to the 3A division in 2016.

On Jan. 15, 90 3A teams competed in sectional competitions across the state, each trying to secure a bid to the State Dance Competition’s preliminary round.
Community was the only school south of I-80 to earn one of the 30 qualifying spots, finishing 6th at the Minonk Sectional.

The road to State began well before Jan. 15, as Kendall Macmillan (’22) said the team initially choreographed their lyrical dance performance to Banner’s “Got it in You” in August.

Come late October, after tryouts and the team’s roster was complete, Macmillan and other veteran members of the squad began to teach the choreography to the rest of their teammates.

Strong competition choreography is about understanding the strengths of different dancers, but above all, emphasizing an emotional connection with the judges, Macmillan, one of three dancers who performed at the team’s last State appearance in 2019, said.

This year’s State performance bested the 2019 showing by four places, as the Iron finished 30th three years ago.

In 2019, Macmillan said, “I think we were a little bit nervous because it was our first time in 3A.[This year,] we realized we aren’t aiming to be the best in the state, so we went out and just had fun, and it definitely had a positive impact on our performance.”

What was next for the Iron dancers after back-to-back weekends of IHSA State Series competitions?

Maybe a rest?

Not quite.

While the team missed the cut to compete in Saturday, Jan. 29’s State Final round, they spent that day back on the dance floor — practicing four hours in preperation for the Sunday, Jan. 30’s Mattoon Invite competition.

On Feb. 12, the Iron head to Springfield for the Illinois Drill Team Association (IDTA) State Competition where they will attempt to defend their 2021 IDTA titles in the lyrical and hip hop competitions.

If Community finishes first in the hip hop AAA division, it will be their fourth straight IDTA championship in the category.

Community’s season culminates with a trip to Orlando, for the National Dance Alliance (NDA) National Competition.