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Union Dance receive high ratings in solo competition

November 9, 2018
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Dysart Reporter

Sarah Michael, Molly Niebergall and Rebekah Leipold represented Union in the 2019 Solo Competition at Newton High School on November 2 and 3, each receiving a Division 1 rating for excellence.

Soloists are judged on several categories and sub-categories. First, the dancers are judged on appearances, including their outfits, grooming and overall appearance. Second, their choreography is judged on originality, difficulty, variety and if the music suits the routine. Third, their technique is assessed based on articulation, posture, completion of movements and style. Fourth, general execution/effect judged on confidence, poise, timing, strength/interpretation of movement and use of performance area. Finally, showmanship for audience appeal, energy level, facial expressions and projection.

"It takes a ton of courage to put yourself out there to be judged and critiqued by judges who are well known in the dance world," Union Dance Instructor Shelby Graveman said. "I commend them all for their courage, grace, appetite to compete, and willingness to better themselves.

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According to Graveman, preparation for solos utilizes a lot of the girls' free time. On top of other activities they are involved in, the soloists choreograph their own solos and have to find their own time in gym or studio to practice to make sure they are ready for the judges in November.

Niebergall and Leipold stayed overnight and on Sunday took part in the inaugural Iowa State Dance Team Association (ISDTA) Dance Combine at Grandview University in Des Moines. Joined by Emma Corpman and Kinsie Murley for quite a difference experience.

"Football players have the combine for the NFL where scouts see them perform different elements, etc and this is the same format," Graveman said. The girls got to show up, and meet with 20+ different colleges from across the state of Iowa from D1 to NAIA to learn more about their college's dance teams, life dancing in college, etc."

The dancers had a chance to take a Master Classes from Jacque Lewarne who was a Season 11 Top 6 Contestant on 'So You Think You Can Dance'. They got to learn a jazz, pom, hip-hop and technique combo from her and perform them for the rest of the group, which included over 120 girls.

"The girls stated it was challenging, fast paced, but they took a lot away from the combine," Graveman said. "I feel they learned skills to continue to work on, learning at an extremely fast pace, as well as what some of the colleges are looking for."

The Union Dance team will continue their season with performances at home basketball games and the competitive team will performs two routines at Iowa State Dance Team Competition in Des Moines later this month. Leipold, Michael, Niebergall and Piper Wiedenoff will also perform during a pregame or halftime show the girls basketball state finals in early March.



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