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Dancers place in state for first time

The 12 girls of the Sandy Dance Team and their three coaches have made Sandy High School history.

At the OSAA state dance Competition March 19-20 at Memorial Coliseum, Sandy’s dance team took home fifth place and an Oregon-shaped trophy. This is the first time that Sandy High’s team has placed at state.

“It was amazing,” said Head Coach Charlon Blackmon. “They worked their butts off.”

The dance team placed with its routine, “Within,” which aimed to showcase the relationship between good and evil and right and wrong. by: CONTRIBUTED BY: JENNA JARVIS - This year, the team made the switch from a show team to a dance drill team, trading props and backdrops for lots of work with technique.

Knowing they were in a tie for fifth the night before, it was pretty tense for the coaches when it came time to announce trophies, Blackmon said.

“We were standing on the sidelines knowing we were either taking a trophy or going home disappointed,” she said.

For Sandy’s team, the fifth-place finish was a sign of doing something right.

In the summer of 2013, Blackmon and her two assistant coaches, Desiree Park and Blackmon’s daughter Chelsea, decided to make a big change for their team. They made the switch from competing as a show team to a dance drill team.

“We had to make the decision of do we keep doing what we’re doing and stay at the bottom, or do we try something different,” Blackmon said. by: CONTRIBUTED BY: JENNA JARVIS - As they announced winning teams, all the dance teams were seated on the floor of the gym awaiting the news. SHSs team and coaches were ecstatic.

Dance teams that compete as show teams are what Blackmon described as the musical theater of dance. Their routines include dancing on a large decorated mat with props and backdrops.

Sandy’s dance team has used trees and doors in the past. “You name it, I’ve seen it,” Blackmon said of props. One especially memorable routine for her was “Colorblind” from 2010 that involved paint.

Dance drill teams simply dance on the gym floor. “It’s basically just the team and the music,” Blackmon said.

Although becoming a dance drill team was easier in having a lot less to cart around to competition, Blackmon said it also was a lot more difficult. “They’re all out on the floor the whole time, my freshmen to my four-year seniors,” she said. “We had to just work technique.”

Throughout the fall and winter seasons, dance team members are required to attend three practices a week, and more are added when the state competition is looming. When the team isn’t competing, Saturdays are taken up by long practices.

“Their parents usually don’t get them for a whole weekend during state season,” Blackmon said.

Blackmon said she believes all the hard work and effort isn’t just about the perfect pirouette, but teaching responsibility and dedication.by: CONTRIBUTED BY: JENNA JARVIS - The dance teams Oregon-shaped trophy will be displayed at Sandy High School.

She said that although being a dance coach is one of the most difficult things she’s ever done, it also has been the most rewarding. Over her nine years of coaching, Blackmon said she has seen dance become a safe place and a sanctuary for some of her teenage girls who deal with stress outside of dance.

Whenever a dance team member comes to practice after a hard day at school, to Blackmon, the perfect therapy is to dance it out.

After all of their hard work this year, next year isn’t going to be any easier, Blackmon said. It will be a rebuilding year, she said. Seven of her 12 dancers this year are seniors.

Tryouts for Sandy’s dance team next year will be held May 7-10. Check the high school website for details.

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