For the Seminole High Dazzler Dance Team, national titles are nothing new... but this is ridiculous!
Adding more National Championship hardware to their trophy case is jpar for the cours for the members of the Dazzler Dance Team at Seminole High School. This school year, however, the Dazzlers really outdid themselves, wowing competition judges, audiences, and their own coaches in the process.
The Dazzler varsity and junior varsity Dance Teams proved to be dominating forces at February’s Dance Team Union (DTU) National Championship held in Orlando. The varsity team was elated to earn its first-ever double national titles, one for its high-kick routine and one for its pom number. The junior varsity team was also a champ, winning a national title of its own in the high-kick division.
Maureen Maguire, who co-directs the Dazzlers with her daughter, Shannon, says that their dance room at Seminole High was already overflowing with national titles, trophies, and banners marking past wins. But this year’s contest, and the awards the dancers racked up there, were special.
“A team winning two titles at one national competition is really hard to do, because you tend to specialize in one number even though you’re trying to really, really improve in all the others,” says Maureen. “This was the first time they’ve ever won two championships. Our varsity team has been very consistent in winning national high-kick titles. It was very exciting that this year they also won the national title in pom, which is a very different type of dance. Routines have to be so clean and so precise, that’s why it’s so difficult.”
This year’s awards bring the Dazzler national title tally to 39 wins in a variety of dance styles, including high kick, pom, jazz, and more. The Dazzler Dance Team is currently comprised of 80 students – 77 girls and three boys. The varsity team has 39 dancers, while junior varsity has 41 members.
These hardworking students take dance classes during the school day and practice for hours each week after school. In addition to an intense competition season, the Dazzlers regularly perform at football games and other school and community events such as Arts Alive in Seminole! and Dancing for Diabetes.
When the Dazzlers arrived at this year’s DTU nationals, they walked in with a stellar reputation they wanted to uphold. That’s because the varsity and junior varsity teams were defending champs, each having won a national high-kick title at DTU’s 2019 competition. Both teams had their sights set on a repeat, and they were thrilled to hold onto those kick titles in 2020.
“We are over-the-moon proud of the kids this year,” Maureen says. “They really did have a great run.”
Karyme Villarruel and Sally Stahl, seniors on the varsity team, agree that this year’s national competition was an incredible experience. Because the Dazzlers are best known for high-kick routines – their specialty – the teens weren’t sure how they would fare with the judges on their pom dance number.
As it turned out, the Dazzlers were so satisfied with their performances on stage that judges’ marks and trophies became an afterthought.
“For both high kick and pom, we were so excited coming off the dance floor,” Sally says. “Our teamwork and our energy were unforgettable. There is no feeling like dancing with my team.”
Karyme adds, “We made history for the Dazzler name. That feeling of knowing you made your coaches proud and that all your hard work paid off, brings tears to your eyes. I am so thankful for the most amazing coaches and teammates.”
Their big wins are even more meaningful because all Dazzler routines are choreographed by the Maguires and the students, not by outside choreographers for hire, Shannon says.
“When you’re looking at our team, nobody has put that dance on us,” she says. “It’s a reflection of our personalities, creativity, and abilities. We like to push the envelope and do things differently.”
As if its double national titles weren’t enough, the varsity team also exceeded expectations with a third routine it performed at DTU, in the jazz dance category. At last year’s DTU nationals, the Dazzler varsity dancers came in third place in jazz. But this year, their performance was so strong that they moved up to a second-place final ranking.
“They danced the stuffing out of it,” Maureen says about the jazz routine. “It was simply amazing.”
The Dazzler dancers aren’t the only ones who earned well-deserved accolades this year. Maureen, herself, was nominated for the first time by the National Dance Coaches Association for its prestigious High School Coach of the Year award (at press time, the winner had not yet been announced). This is Maureen’s 37th year coaching the Dazzlers; she started during the 1983-84 school year.
“The kids were so excited for Mrs. Maguire,” says Shannon, a former Dazzler who was on the team from 1996-2000. “When her nomination was announced over the school intercom, the whole dance team erupted. I think they were more excited for her than they were for their own trophies, and it was really sweet for mom to see that.”
With this year’s national contest behind them, the coaches and students will turn their attention to what lies ahead – another exciting school year filled with rehearsing, performing, and competing with skill and panache.
“The 2019-20 Dazzler Dance Team has been very strong, focused, and honorable,” Maureen says. “They set a high, high standard, and the 2020-21 team must match and raise from that.”
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