Gig Harbor High was locked Friday when GHHS Dance Team H2WHOA coach Kristen Grace arrived to put her dancers through their scheduled training routines. The morning's sunshine didn't stop the seven dancers from practicing in fresh air. When the doors magically opened, the girls resumed their dedicated mission in the school gym.
Team H2WHOA is freshman Emily Newberg, sophomore Georgia Dorsey, juniors Madi Werner and Taylor Urick, and seniors Michelle Lee, Heather Dobbins, Isabelle Jennings, Grace Dullum and Lizzie Mercurio. They are co-coached by Christine Newberg and Grace, who also choreographs the team's dance routines. Grace restarted the team after it was disbanded last year.
H2WHOA took third place earlier this year in the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association dance competitions in Yakima.
The dancers were honing their skills to perform at its upcoming H2WHOA show May 4-5, 7:30 p.m. at the Gig Harbor High School auditorium. Admission is $10-12. Funds raised will be used for next year's costumes, competition fees and transportation.
Dorsey took a dance class as a kid and instantly fell in love with it.
"I love performing in front of the school and being on the team. It’s my first year on H2WHOA but I’ve been dancing since fourth grade. Kristen is the best coach ever. She’s always supportive and encouraging everyone. We all think of her as our older sister/mom," Dorsey said.
Urick, who recently moved to Gig Harbor, said she loves performing and competing.
"It’s always a thrill. The dance team showed me what it’s like to be involved in high school by doing what I love to do. The amount of work I’ve put into each practice is always worth it! We grow closer as a team and as a dance family. My coach created an amazing team she continuously supports and loves," Urick said.
Lee, who started a dance class at Camp Seymour, said the dance team's positive approach teaches teamwork.
"I've been dancing since I was 10. It’s my second year on the team. It is really hard work but lots of fun because of the people plus the coach is so awesome. She’s a team member. She is kind plus caring and so easy to talk to."
Jennings, who started dancing when she was age 3, said she was nervous switching from her old dance studio to the H2WHOA team because she had never done hip-hop.
"It brought my dancing to another level and I have been able to learn so much about style. I’ve been dancing for 14 years but this is my first year with H2WHOA. We really push ourselves as a team and encourage each other. We are all friends and like to joke around with each other a lot. Kristen is amazing. She knows each one of us on a personal level and cares about our improvement. She was also on H2WHOA in high school," Jennings said.
Werner, who has been dancing since she was two years old, said, "Dance is where I can express my emotions and grow as a person. I’ve been on many competitive dance teams and when it was time to enter high school I thought the dance team would be the perfect place for me to meet new people and be a part of the school and be a part of something I love with other dancers who feel the same way. It’s all up to you as a dancer and how much work you put into it. We have such a great bond and all work together."
Dullum, who co-captains with Dobbins, has been on the team since her freshman year.
"I remember going to their shows and taking their mini-dance camp when I was younger. I could not wait to try out! Being on a team teaches you many things, such as patience, cooperation, teamwork, honestly, compassion, and so much more. I love this team to no end. I firmly believe in building a strong relationship with your teammates. Doing so, you perform better, communicate better, and feel connected and happy with those specific people."
Mercurio grew up in a family who loved music and always loved to dance. She said she couldn’t wait to resume her love of dance after the team's year hiatus.
"Our coach this year is so amazing. Kristen is such a positive individual who always strives to push us in the right direction. She is fun to be around and is also an outstanding dancer, choreographer and coach. It is nice to have a coach who is also a dancer so that she can relate to us and help us. I’m so thankful she was able to start the team back up again this year," Mercurio said.
The WHOA Show
What: A showcase fundraiser for GHHS Dance Team expenses
When: 7:30 p.m. May 4-5
Where: GHHS Auditorium, 5101 Rosedale St. NW
Tickets: $10 students, $12 adults