Dance Team Finds Success in Florida


courtesy of Demitra Rooyakkers

The Dance Team poses with their trophies

Kate Shanahan, Staff Writer

In their second season, the Hillsborough Dance Team earned the opportunity to travel to Florida for the national dance competition. This competition is comprised of schools across the country and even some teams from Mongolia and Colombia. After numerous local competitions, the Raiders showed their dominance over other schools and won first place for at least one dance each competition. The Raiders focused on two main pieces this year which were jazz and hip hop routines. 

However, the road to Florida began a while ago. The Hillsborough dancers attended an intense camp organized by the Universal Dance Association (UDA), the global authority in dance camps and competitions since 1980, back in the Summer. Each Hillsborough dancer was evaluated and every dancer was required to receive a high scoring evaluation in order for the team to qualify for nationals.

“Every dancer on our team worked extremely hard day and night to eventually earn the highest scoring evaluation,” senior Demitra Rooyakkers said. 

Through hard work and dedication, the Raiders found major success at their first Nationals. The jazz routine, choreographed by a former dancer from Ohio State, finished seventh out of 37 opponents.

“We were all able to connect to it [the jazz routine] really well and perform not only with our bodies but with our facials,” junior Alexandra Castano said.

The hip hop dance also earned recognition by placing 12th out of 26 opposing teams. 

Although they had to focus on dance the entire trip, the Hillsborough Dance Team was able to enjoy their time in Orlando as well. Staying in the Disney All-Star resort, the Raiders took trips to the Disney parks during their stay. In their first night at Orlando, the dancers enjoyed some time in the parks. On the final night of the trip, the park was closed to the public and opened only for the teams competing in the competition. 

The overall experience of the competition was unforgettable and unexplainable, the team set out to prove themselves not only to their peers in Hillsborough, but to schools all across the nation.

“We wanted to prove we belonged there being that it was the dance team’s first nationals,” said Castano. “No one expected us to make it as far as we did.”

Castano felt extremely rewarded after the successful trip to Florida, especially after screaming and crying with her teammates when finding out they made it to finals. 

Rooyakkers reflected on her overall experience in the dance team’s first two seasons at HHS. 

“This team was the absolute highlight of my high school career and could not have asked for more,” Rooyakkers said.

It truly was a dream season for the Hillsborough Dance Team, and a moment none of them will ever forget.