Bruin Girls bring home national awards


Daphne Yu

Last Thursday, the Bruin Girls arrived at RBHS an hour earlier than usual dressed in their green team v-necks and black jazz pants, with their travel luggage in tow.  At 6:30 in the morning, the Bruins Girls were ready to leave for Florida and the National Dance Alliance’s National Competition at Universal Studios in Orlando, where they placed sixth and tenth on Sunday, March 10. After competing at state just two weeks before, the girls knew they were ready to dance, but they did not know what nationals would bring.
“The biggest obstacle we faced as a team was that none of us knew quite what to expect,” senior Kate Harline said. “Sometimes it was hard to stay motivated towards an abstract goal.”
Upon arriving at the Universal Studios, the girls joined more than 100 other dance teams from around the world in the Hard Rock Café bordering Universal Studios.  While the girls hadn’t seen the other teams perform yet, they knew the competition was going to be tough and the had to step it up.
“Some of the teams were so disciplined they would walk around with their hands behind their back in silent single file lines,” Harline said. “On the first day we were walking and heard a teams’ vocals echoing from across the water. That was when everyone realized we had to turn up the energy. We fell in line right behind all of the other teams, committed to give it all we could.”
After sightseeing and exploring the park Friday, the girls woke up at 4 a.m. Saturday for their first practice, followed by their first team performance in the Mix category at 7:10. The hour and half or so before he girls went on stage was very different from other competitions.
“They shuttle you to a large sound stage for 7 minute warm up and practice rotations. Then you’re shuttled backstage. You only go on and off one way. The stage is really deep too, and the judges are above the balcony so you have to perform way up,” Harline said. “Everything is very precise because they want to put on a good, smooth show.”
One thing the girls noticed immediately after the first round of competition was the importance of appearance. While the girls usually just go with “performance make-up,” they made some last-minute changes to appease the judges.
“There’s a lot more emphasis on glitzy makeup and gimmicks,” Harline said. “We had Reagan [DeClerk]’s mom go buy fake eyelashes, rhinestones and hair ribbons after our costumes didn’t read very well. Most teams had elaborate face paint, hair styles and rhinestones everywhere.”
Despite the additions, the toughest thing for the team last weekend was going into the finals, one dance short.The girls had brought three dances – Mix, Poms and Jazz to nationals, though only Poms and Jazz mad it through to the finals.
Throughout the weekend “we all came together really well,” Harline said. But the hardest thing was “probably when we found out we hadn’t made finals in Mix. After all the work we put in, it felt like it didn’t matter. but we rallied everyone together and came back with Jazz and easily got into finals. We had to lift each other up, but it helped us realize how much we had to work but also how good we could be.”
The girls went back to the finals Sunday, performing their Jazz routine for the judges one last time in the morning, followed by their Pom performance in the afternoon. Knowing it was one of the last times the team would perform together, the girls gave it everything they had. “After Jazz, all of the seniors and the coaches were crying,” Harline said.
“We left everything on the floor to the point we didn’t even care how the scores came out. It just so happened that the judges felt something too. Jazz felt so good that we just tried to do the same thing for Pom. The stage was pulsing with energy from all of us and we executed it to the best of our ability and had a lot of fun. It was a great way to go out.”
By Daphne Yu
Photos provided by Morgan Nuetzmann
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