By Molly Niebergall

The Union High School dance team will bring many new changes to the teams’ performances and competitions for the 2019/2020 season.
Shelby Graveman is approaching her fifth year of coaching Union High School’s dance team. The new team was determined after tryouts on April 20th, coming to the conclusion of 23 dancers on the varsity team and 13 on the competition team. The competition dance team competes at the Iowa State Dance Team Association (ISDTA) annual competition the first weekend of December, where last year they had a second place finish in Novelty.

They plan to continue to compete in the Hip Hop and Novelty categories this year. Each year, the scoring for the ISDTA team and solo competitions have been on a 0-70 scale. This year, they decided to change the scoring to a 0-100 scale, adding 30 more points from the years past and also adding new scoring criteria.

When talking about scoring changes, Graveman said, “I like the changes because I don’t think a 70 scale is enough. A lot of people’s minds think in percent, so if they see that they got 82 out of 100, they got 82 percent in my mind, but they might not get a trophy. I think it’s good for the team to reflect better if they are able to look at it that way.” There are a lot of new criteria introduced on the scoring sheet such as difficulty and transitions.

“I think it will go over well. We were the only state in the United States that had a scoring sheet that only went to 70, not 100,” Graveman said.

The varsity dance team will experience more changes than the competition team will this year. The varsity team will be introducing a new style of dance to the team and to the crowds: Hoopla. Hoopla is a precise dance style similar to Pom, a style that the dance team frequently performs. The dancers will perform with two ribbon-wrapped hoops. The high school has never performed this kind of style for their crowds.

“Hoopla looks really nice when bigger teams do it as opposed to smaller teams, and since we’ve been having more than 20 members on the team the last three years of dance team, I figured we would try something different,” Graveman said.

Hoopla is a very visual style that is fun to watch from far away, so

Graveman plans to use them more for the varsity football performances. “I think the crowd will like to see something different. They know they are going to see a Halloween routine and they are going to see probably two Pom routines, so it’ll be nice to have a Pom, Hoopla, and a Halloween, as opposed to just two Pom,” Graveman said.

Rebekah Leipold, an upcoming senior on Union’s dance team, feels the same say.

“We’ve never done it [hoopla] before that I know of, so I think it’s definitely going to be different, but I think the crowd will enjoy it,” Leipold said.
Leipold is excited to have this new style introduced, but knows since it is such a precise style, she knows the team will have to work hard to clean the dance to make sure it looks in sync.

“I think the team will be weirded out. I think maybe once we get into it it’s going to be fun,” Leipold said.

Another big change occurring this year for the dance team is the introduction of new uniforms. Graveman says that she has been wanting to get uniforms for the team since she started as a coach five years ago. It has been ten years since Union dance has seen new uniforms. The team has been fundraising to achieve the amount of money needed to purchase them. Graveman is hoping to have them by the end of 2019.

“Almost 99 percent of teams have their own group uniform. I think it really shows school pride. It makes everybody look super together, and I think even more in sync, as opposed to just wearing random tops for performances,” Graveman said.

Graveman and Leipold are both excited to see what the upcoming season brings. This year the team has new members to both the varsity and competition teams. Alongside Leipold, there are eight other incoming seniors on dance team graduating in 2020 out of the 23 members selected for the varsity team this year.

“A lot of us [seniors] have danced pretty much our whole lives and I think that we’re all very supportive and helpful and easy to talk to.” Seniors can expect to be leaders to the underclassman according to Leipold.

“I think this season will go well. I think we have people who are going to work hard and do their best, and I think we have a good team this year,” Leipold said.