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Getting in line: Park dance line growing

An essential part of dance team is moves made side by side. Pictured (from left) are Park High School's Hannah Jones, Anna Speirs and Samantha Johnson. Bulletin photo by Judy Spooner

Dance line is not for the faint of heart.

Practices are three hours long and they do it four days a week, all to dance a routine that's a lot like a three-minute, all-out sprint, according to Amanda Hemmingsen-Jaeger, Park High Dance Line head coach.

But the 15 Park dance line members love their sport. They aren't quick to get in line for a rigorous practice, but five minutes in, listening to work out music, they are energized and ready to do more.

Maggie Katzenmaier has been dancing since she was 9 years old. She said she joined dance line because it's fun and she gets a good workout, has talks with friends and doesn't have to go to a gym to stay in shape.

"I love the sport," she said at a recent practice.

For many years, dance line was not recognized as a sport but is now under the rules of the Minnesota State High School League as an athletic sport.

Hemmingsen-Jaeger has been coaching for four years, with two of them at Park. She was a dance-line judge while in college.

Dance routines are learned to an eight count, just as dancers learn individual routines. The more and harder you practice, the better you get.

As the line learns a routine, they polish little things such as hand positions and turning their heads to the correct side. Hemmingsen-Jaeger calls it "cleaning."

There are two types of dance line competitions with kick line and dance line, which Park competes in.

The coach said the sport builds confidence: "They're developing into young women and we're building character as well as perfecting routines."

At the beginning of the season, girls develop individual goals because they have a wide range of skills.

Hemmingsen-Jaeger said she also teaches the girls healthy habits such as getting enough sleep, eating healthful foods and drinking lots of water.

Park still has a young program, she said, and competes against schools with programs with much more experience.

But interest is growing and dancers are getting a lot of experience, Hemmingsen-Jaeger said.

Team captains include Gracie Larson and Kelly Kershawelly Krier, who are seniors, and Micaela Flores, a sophomore. Assistant coach is Veronica Hemmingsen.

Sam Johnson joined this year because she saw a flier at school. To get stronger and have more endurance, she attended a strength and conditioning camp last summer. She made new friends during the season.

"I've learned so much from these girls," she said.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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