GHS dance squad looks to recapture title

They have dubbed themselves the “redeem team.” One year after losing the national title in the co-ed division to their rivals at Channel Islands High School, the Glendale High School dance/drill team is eager to take the floor at the 2011 USA Dance/Drill Nationals at the Anaheim Convention Center this weekend.

“We are very nervous, but still excited,” said head captain Daniel Kim, 17. “It is what we have been waiting for since last March.”

Competing under the leadership of Coach Kelly Palmer since 1999, the Glendale High has seen more than a decade of wins.

Respected by her dancers and colleagues for her “tough love” approach, Palmer demands excellence, both on and off the dance floor. And students are expected to conduct themselves with the utmost decorum at competitions, she said.

“When you are successful, people expect you to behave at a higher standard,” Palmer said. “If they are treating each other well, it translates to the floor.”

Bragging — in person, or on Facebook — is forbidden.

“We are taught how to act around other schools,” said team Captain Julia Vargas, 18. “We are a team that really stands out among other teams.”

Among the team’s most notable accomplishments is 11 consecutive national titles in the co-ed division, which includes a three-minute choreographed routine performed by 15 couples. The winning streak was broken last year when the Channel Islands squad nabbed first place and Glendale High finished third.

The 2010 loss was painful, students and coaches said, but also served to remind the team about the discipline and focus required to produce a winning season. They attacked the current season with renewed vigor.

“This year, all of the coaches have done so much more than any other year,” Vargas said.

The varsity squad has notched 56 first-place and two second-place finishes at nine competitions so far this year. And the dream season culminates today for the co-ed squad with a three-minute American Bandstand-themed routine.

A lot of things can happen in three minutes, team members said.

“We have had a great season, but until you get to nationals, where every team is strong, you can’t assume anything,” Palmer said.

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