Chehalem Valley Dance Academy alum and instructor Courtney Joel has another job title to add to her resume this year: coach of the Newberg High School dance team.
Courtney splits coaching duties with co-coach Mikaela Schamp, a district employee. Mikaela has studio experience and danced in high school and college. According to Courtney, she and Mikaela communicate and collaborate together very well. “She’s amazing!” said Courtney.
Coaching the Newberg dance team allows for CVDA to expand their community outreach and provide more robust opportunities for the dance team members. Courtney brings studio knowledge and training to the school setting.
There are 23 dancers (22 girls and one boy) on the dance team, divided into three levels: varsity, JV, and training. Over the spring and summer there were three rounds of auditions to determine appropriate placement for each dancer; no individual was cut. And everyone has the opportunity to move up as they achieve skill benchmarks.
Every Monday the team comes to class at the CVDA studio. Instead of practicing in a busy shared gymnasium, they get to enjoy their own dedicated practice space with mirrors, a barre, and Marley floors.
After that practice, many dancers stay to take an optional beginning teen jazz class with Courtney. Other dance team members are taking hip hop or tumbling. Having the opportunity to take classes at the studio helps build technique and confidence, which enhances the entire dance team.
The Newberg dance team has official practice three days/week, at least 2 hours each day. They perform at home football games on Fridays and will also perform at home basketball games. Their “season” concludes at the end of February. They were invited to perform during half-time at the OSU Beaver game on September 24th, which was very exciting.
This year the focus is on team building, skill development, learning technique, choreography, and tools for success. In 2017-2018 the dance team plans to compete at OSAA (Oregon School Activities Association) sanctioned dance competitions. These contrast to the competitions that the CVDA Performing Company attend.
OSAA competitions have strict regulations around tricks and lifts that teams must abide by. They also take place in gyms on wood floors, and the judges sit up high as opposed to eye level.
Courtney says her team is hard-working, self-motivated, and eager to learn. “They put so much effort into every practice. I always leave feeling happy and proud of them,” she noted. “I can see evidence of their growth week to week. It’s so worth it!”
Make sure to check out the Newberg dance team at a home football game or basketball game this year! Click here for a schedule.