Sugar ‘Canes dance up a storm


Jocelyn Leal, Editor-in-Chief

Hard work over months of practice pays off, proven by the Manatee High School dance team, the Sugar ‘Canes, who won sixth place in the nation on the weekend of Dec. 31- Jan. 3. Facing dance teams from across the nation, including Alaska, the Sugar ‘Canes brought their A-game and took home a national title and brought great pride to their school.

This year, Nationals were put on by an organization called Dance Team Union, from all across the United States, dance teams who had done well in regional competitions can compete for a national title. The competition was held in Orlando, FL at the Gaylord Palms Hotel. Teams get to dance in categories that they qualified for; the Sugar ‘Canes competed in two categories- team, which is a mix of pom, hip-hop, jazz and kick, as well as a small varsity pom routine. Categories range by the size of the team and style of dance. The ‘Canes made it to finals with their team performance, but did not make it with the Pom routine.

Senior Shea Whittaker talked about how hard the Sugar ‘Canes practiced to achieve their goals, she said, “We worked very hard to get to where we are. Three to four hour practices almost five days a week is very hard. All of us have bruises all over and aches and pains, constantly being screamed at and tons of injuries, but it was all so worth it in the end.”

This is the Sugar ‘Canes’ 35th year going to Nationals but it has been nine years since they have made it to finals, stated the ‘Canes’ dance coach, Angela Babroski.

Fires of Anticipation– The Sugar ‘Canes excitedly watch the last few performances as they wait for the awards. Manatee High School’s dance team won 6th place in the nation, no easy feat. “And 6th place in the nation, I mean that’s pretty crazy awesome,” said Sugar ‘Cane Coach Angela Babroski.

“It’s not an easy thing to make it to finals, what they do is they have prelims, which for us was all the teams competing in the category and then from there they take about 40% of those teams to finals,” said Babroski.

The dance team started practicing these routines in late August, trying to get them perfected for competition season in December. Even after five months of practice to make these routines the best, the judges at Nationals still had critiques that the Sugar ‘Canes had to add to their performances at the last minute.

“The girls were phenomenal, they were excited they worked really hard. They really stepped up to the challenge. They took critiques really well, because once you go through the preliminary round you get the feed back from the judges and you have to back and practice and practice and practice,” said Babroski about the girls at Nationals.

All of the girls were thrilled to be going to Nationals, freshmen and seniors alike worked extremely hard to get to this point as Babroski said, and it was a great experience.

Freshman Aidyn Reynolds had a great time at Nationals, she said, “My Nationals experience was a lot of fun and different because I had never been to a dance competition before.”

Being a senior, Whittaker’s experience at Nationals was bittersweet, but so exciting and joyous, “When we got called that we won 6th in the nation I was in shock and had so much joy it was insane. The fact that it’s been my last year and we placed way better than we have in many years was amazing,” she finished with, “I’m so proud of my team and wouldn’t have been able to succeed in that way without every single one of them.”