Katie Doolittle – Staff Writer
On Feb. 25 and 26, the Gustavus competitive dance team made their mark at the USA Dance Nationals in Anaheim, California. The team placed fourth amongst their fellow competitors.
The team performed a jazz dance to “Separate Ways” by Journey twice on the big stage; once on the 25th for the preliminary round and the second time on the 26th for the final round. While the team was able to earn a commendable score, the group was more proud of the memories and progress they made along the way.
Following their routine, the team’s energy consisted of a joyous release. “Nothing can beat the feeling of walking off the floor knowing that you and your team just gave it your all. We were able to watch our performance and none of us could stop smiling,” Senior Ellie Wigham said.
The overwhelming variety of emotions wasn’t just experienced by Wigham, but by the whole team. “It feels incredible to showcase all of the hard work we put into our practices and into perfecting our routine. As soon as we walked off the floor following our finals performance, we all were screaming, crying, and hugging each other out of pure joy and pride,” Wigham said.
Captain and Senior Sydney Timm believed the music choice was an ideal way to close this chapter in her life with her beloved teammates. “For me, the dance really meant that while the team may be going ‘separate ways’ as seniors graduate, we will always be a team and love each other and dancing together no matter how far apart we are,” Timm said.
The love song embodies the feeling of saying goodbye to the ones you love the most. “One quote from the song that sums up its meaning to me is ‘You know I still love you, though we touched and went our separate ways.’ While this was our last time performing with this exact team, we know that the love we have for one another will continue,” Wigham said.
Timm and Wigham are especially sentimental about this sport which offered some of the most meaningful experiences. “Most of my fondest memories come from the time spent with my teammates. All of the laughs shared, games played, food eaten, and bonds strengthened. We truly became like a family this year, loving and enjoying each and every moment spent with one another,” Wigham said.
Dancing at Gustavus has been deeply meaningful for these two seniors. “I joined the Gustavus dance team because I love to dance and I knew that I didn’t want to stop dancing after high school. Being a part of the Gustavus dance team has been one of the greatest experiences of my life,” Wigham said.
As the captain, Timm feels especially proud of her time in the Gustavus dance team. “I am so proud to have led such a dedicated and loyal team for the past two years, and I can not wait to see the amazing things they accomplish both as a team and as individuals. No team has ever made me feel so welcome, so seen, and so safe, and the lessons I have learned from them are ones that I will hold close to my heart for the rest of my life,” Timm said.
The competitive aspect of dancing is just one of the many reasons why these Gusties are drawn to this sport. “I love dancing because it is an opportunity for me to express myself and challenge myself by combining athleticism, technique, musicality, and resilience. My favorite part of the dance team is the empowering and inclusive community we have created where dancers of all backgrounds can come together and relate over our love of dance,” Timm said.
The communal dynamic that dance creates is something that has been part of these Gusties’ lives from a young age. “I’ve been dancing since I was three, so it is something that I have always turned to as an outlet. One of the biggest things about dance that brings me joy is the community. Dance requires each person to be exactly in sync with one another which requires you to spend a lot of time practicing with your teammates,” Wigham said.
Due to their time and dedication, these competitive dancers would encourage people to recognize this activity as a sport. “[I want more people to see] that the two minutes we have at the end of the season is just as important as every single game that other sports have. That dance is an art AND a sport,” Sophomore Emma Stock said.
“Dance is hard and takes immense strength and endurance as well as flexibility and technique. We have to throw our bodies around and execute difficult skills in sync with one another while having a smile on our face and making it look easy,” Wigham agreed.
Timm adds that the Gustie Dancers are the epitome of Gustavus athletics, “The dancers on the team are some of the most highly involved people I have ever met, as they juggle their classes, extracurriculars, employment, and social lives. They are the epitome of what makes a Gustie athlete so amazing!”