BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — More than 9,000 family members and friends cheered on their favorite team in the Illinois High School Association Competitive Dance State Finals at the Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington Friday.
Ninety teams in three divisions from across Illinois competed in the preliminary round on Friday for 12 slots in the finals on Saturday.
“This is year 11 that we’ve been doing it and the bar just continues to rise each and every year with what teams put together,” said IHSA Assistant Executive Director Tracie Henry. “The athleticism, the artistry on the floor. It’s really an incredible day.”
The types of dances included lyrical, hip-hop, contemporary, jazz and more. The teams from Central Illinois included Morton, Washington, Eureka and Minonk.
“It takes a lot between the tricks, the turns, the technique that goes into it,” said Lauren Metz, head coach of the Washington Pantherettes Dance Team.
Metz said this year’s team is the most talented team she’s ever coached.
“I was really proud of them, I told them I teared up after they performed…I just thought they did a really, really good job. A lot of heart, a lot of hard work. A lot of people working through injuries that have really pushed themselves despite the injuries and just kept working at dance,” she said.
Washington senior Claire Uftring has been dancing since she was three years old. She said making it to the IHSA Finals is a big deal.
“It’s just a really big opportunity and a lifetime dream that people get to experience…Every team is a good team here. It is so much talent and the fact you get to be here and you qualified to be here, you just know that ‘I did that’,” she said.
The Washington Pantherettes performed a lyrical contemporary routine.
“It’s more flowy instead of sharp like hip hop or really intense. It’s more soft but also lots of performance and smiles, sometimes sad. It’s a routine that kind of hits you,” explained Uftring.
Uftring said most people don’t realize how much time and effort goes into dance.
“The work ethic. The amount of energy and pain we go through for working so much on technique, flexibility, performance and just making sure we are doing everything 110 percent,” she said.
The two-day event is expected to bring $842,500 in direct economic impact to the Twin Cities, according to the Bloomington-Normal Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.