Dance Team Brings Home the National Championship


Clara Kao

DHSDT celebrates their first national championship after years of coming so close.

By Varun Shankar, Dominion High School

The dance team sat together on the stage with all the other groups next to them. They held hands, hunched over in anticipation as each of the fourteen places were named. As the numbers got lower, Dominion’s named still hadn’t been called, and with each name that was, the excitement level of the school’s team rose until the second place team was named as the Manatee School for the Arts.  

In the span of four days, the Dominion High School Team (DHSDT) turned the travesties of past years into a resounding triumph. In the 2019 National Dance Association’s High School Nationals down in Orlando, Florida, the DHSDT placed first in the Large Varsity Hip-Hop category for the first time in school history with a score of 93.1333, more than a full point ahead of the second place Manatee School for the Arts, in Palmetto, Florida.

In previous years, Dominion placed fourth, second, and then failed to place last year. “Failures, although hard as they are to go through, have a great way of igniting a flame under you that can really grow when lit under the right individuals,” coach Mrs. Kao said. “Not advancing to finals last year most definitely pushed us harder than any year previous.”

Senior Molly Harrington echoed the sentiment. “I knew it was my last competition, so I knew I had to win since it was my last time and last competition and it pushed me a lot more.”  

Once the words came out of the announcer’s voice, pandemonium ensued as the team began to hug each other. “It’s crazy when it happened, we were all in shock, we were all crying. We were all freaking out, we all felt that the work was worth it, we came this far and we deserved it,” Eleni Molina said.

Courtesy of Clara Kao

Not only did they finish first in their field of 23, the dance team had the highest score out of every high school team in the small, medium, and large divisions with their score of 93.1333. They also won the award for most innovative choreography. “I worked really hard to choreograph a large portion of the competition routine,” Monique Guilbault said. “It was so exciting for me personally and it really shows that the work was worth it.”

That routine took hundreds of hours of work by Mr. Kao, Mrs. Kao, Mr. Alexander, and each and every dancer. “It was insane, we practiced two and a half hours every day for the entire year, we were always so tired but this makes it worth it,” Harrington said.

“I have personally seen countless nights that Mr. K puts in after our full-time job and dance well into 3-4am working on the mix, formations, transitions, visuals and tricks,” Mrs. Kao said.

All that work came down to one performance in front of a raucous crowd, with a chance at the ultimate prize. “The dancers expressed that the crowd was deafening at certain parts of the routine during finals,” Mr. Kao said.

Dance is not merely an activity to the DHSDT, it’s much more than that. “One of our dancers said it perfectly,” Mrs. Kao said. “We don’t dance for recognition or for trophies, we do it for our love and passion of dance.”

For the members of the team, dance has become more than just a mere activity. “The dance team has always been a super close-knit family and working hard and coming together has always been the top priority,” Guilbault said.  

The two minute and twenty-second routine had four songs in a custom mix by Mr. Kao, “Lean Back” by Terror Squad, “You Can Do It” by Ice Cube, and “Milkshake” by Kelis, and “Walk it Out” by UNK.  

This story was originally published on DHS Press on February 27, 2019.