Shaking up The Athletic Program: Dance Team to Be Added Next School Year

By Celine Macura

Three seasons a year, athletes find themselves putting on a uniform for one of fifty varying teams offered by South’s athletic program. With so many options to choose from, it seems there is a place for almost everyone—from cross-country runners to bowling competitors. However, sophomores Camryn Weinbaum and Catherine Jerome found a sport that is unrepresented in South’s list of teams: dance. While multiple Long island schools, such as Bellport and Syosset, already have dance teams, the 2016-2017 school year will witness the first one offered at South.

In previous years, dancers who wanted to compete with other schools would often join the cheerleading team; however, the two activities are quite different from each other. Team captain Jerome said she “realized that not everyone in our school is into cheerleading, and that’s the closest thing we have to a dance team.” Cheerleading focuses on organized routines, tumbles, and jumps, while dancing emphasizes rhythm and control. Jerome says that she “loves to dance” and is excited to open the team as an opportunity for others like her. Ever since discovering dance as a child, thanks to her dance-oriented family, she has used it as a form of expression.

Weinbaum, co-captain with Jerome, also has a heavy dance background: “Dancing has always been a passion of mine. I’ve done it since I was a little girl starting at Jam [Dance and Fitness Center in Great Neck]. I’ve even considered becoming a professional dancer.” At the start of her dance career, Weinbaum was just in it for some after-school fun and was using it as an outlet for stress. In recent years, however, she has considered taking dance to a competitive level.

When Weinbaum and Jerome discovered their shared affection for dance, they decided to join forces and bring their favorite sport to school so more students could enjoy it. After much collaboration, the trio made their way to Dean Sally Passarella to file for a new club.

Ms. Campbell recalls being approached by Jerome after talking about adding new clubs in her Career Exploration class. Although Ms. Campbell herself had no prior dancing experience, she agreed to advise the club because she saw the potential it had. Her inexperience in dancing isn’t an issue for the club because Special Education teacher Ms. Nicole Martinek has agreed to step in to provide choreography tips. Ms. Campbell claims the plan for the team is to “start out as a club and not have any tryouts and make it more activity-based. Maybe in the future, we would want to make it more of a competition, but right now it would just be for fun.”

Ms. Martineck is excited for the club to take off next year. Ever since beginning dance at the age of three, Ms. Martineck has exercised her passion for dance. She started competing at age eight and continued to do so for the next ten years. After teaching in college, she decided to continue dancing but now just as an after-work hobby. The team will start practicing at the start of the next school year and will operate during all sports seasons. Since there are no tryouts, dancers of all levels are encouraged to join. The team hopes to perform at multiple school events, such as talent shows, coffee houses, and cultural heritage events. They’re open to hosting and competing in competitions against other Long Island schools, but they want to wait until the team feels comfortable and ready to compete.

The captains are confident for a good turnout next year as they know dance serves as a hobby for many students at South. In terms of style, they are looking to choreograph hip-hop and contemporary dances but are also open to incorporating other styles. They encourage all students with any interest in dance to look into the new team; they believe it’s a great way to have fun while relieving stress, too.

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