Dancers show their spirit

The echoes of hip-hop remixes and contemporary dance routines bounced through crowded gyms Saturday at Glendale High School, as hundreds of California teens converged on the site for a regional dance competition.

Groups of girls twirled in shimmering skirts and skin-tight suits in a practice room, while others stood by to coach and critique teams before they performed in front of bleachers full of screaming onlookers and judges from the United Spirit Assn., which sponsors a national competition series.

In the middle of it all was the host dance team from Glendale High, which has more than 80 members and a coed group that has won the national championship 10 straight years.

The group continued its dominance with a win Saturday, with four other Glendale High acts also winning first place and the lone remaining crew placing third in its category. The team set itself apart with two “cutting edge” performances, one set to music from “Slumdog Millionaire” and another themed in honor of President Obama, members said.

A group of 16 boys wore shirts displaying a Time magazine cover with a photo of the president and danced to a mix that included clips from artists Coldplay and Jay-Z, with portions of some of Obama’s speeches mixed in.

The dancers gestured at their shirts and called out “O” for Obama during the routine, which was exciting and unique from other performances, coach Erik Jimenez said.

“All the other ones are kind of just hip-hop, but ours is hip-hop kind of with a purpose,” he said.

It was more than just a routine because the dance had meaning for everyone involved, even the audience, said sophomore Daniel Kim, captain of the all-male crew.

Obama’s election was historic and meant a lot to the nation, the 15-year-old said, and the group decided to put those sentiments into its dance.

“We wanted to really express our thoughts about it,” he said.

Daniel helped to choreograph the “commercialized hip hop” routine and was drilling the group before the competition, making sure each dancer was rising, falling or jumping on time.

The Obama-themed routine kept the group excited about the dance, students said.

“I’m proud of doing it,” senior Ian Delos Santos said. “I feel the music.”

The all-girl group that danced to “Jai Ho” from hit film “Slumdog Millionaire” was similarly enthusiastic about its routine, which engaged the crowd and judges, members said.

The day of performances was exciting for Glendale High parent Ruth Alcos, who was manning one of the doors to the gym, but took out time to cheer her daughter on during one of the all-girl dance routines.

“I couldn’t stop screaming,” she said.

Glendale High’s dance team has become a major part of her daughter’s life and was an important extracurricular activity that gave her a close-knit group of friends with a common interest, she said.

When teenagers work together toward a competition, they develop character and learn how to work together toward a common goal, said Diane Bonds, competition director for the United Spirit Assn.

“It’s just a great experience overall for them to participate in,” she said.

All of Glendale High’s dance groups are now qualified to compete in the championship division at the association’s national championship March 28 in Anaheim.

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