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Dancing into competition

February 15 through 17 Shawano High Students on the Shuffles Performance Team performed at the Imagine Dance Challenge. This event took place at the River Arts Center Prairie Du Sac in Madison, Wisconsin.

Shasta Zentz, who is the team’s dance teacher, has been teaching for roughly twenty-three years. She is also the proud owner of Shuffles Studio of Dance.

“I started student teaching at my dance studio at age fourteen. By the age of sixteen, I was teaching through the Mielke Arts Center under another instructor’s supervision,” Mrs. Zentz explained. “I got a job at North Crest Gymnastics and Dance of Minnesota a semester into my freshman year of college and have been teaching ever since.”

Competition usually comes with nervousness for the dancers. It is also stressful for the parents and anyone working on and with the team.

Photo Courtesy: Shuffles

Sophomore Josephine Schmitt, who has been dancing for five years said, “If I had to rank how stressful it is, I would probably rank it an eight. The reason why is because of costume changes, and this year we had hair changes for dances. Our lipstick also had to be different colors. It was also stressful just thinking about how the rest of the team was going to do.”

Practices for competitions are over the course of a couple months, but it is very hard to make sure everyone is there. There is only so little time to make sure that everything is what it needs to be in the dance.

“Competition choreography is learned and performed at our Winter recitals. While the recreational classes have their break before Spring Session, we are in the studio running longer sessions. This year, we will have a consecutive eight-month competition season from start to finish,” Mrs. Zentz explained. “It is longer for the competitive soloists and duos since they learn their choreography in the summer.”

Photo Courtesy: Shuffles

There are all different kinds of dances that can come up in a competition, ranging from group sizes to the type of dances that are being performed.

Junior Alex Koth, who has been dancing for nine years, said, “The dances that I do at competition are hip-hop or contemporary. Normally, I do a Hip-Hop solo and sometimes a Hip-Hop duet. The team does a bunch more than that. The whole team does Hip-Hop, Contemporary, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, Ballet and Pointe.”

To be able to be on SPT, there is an audition is required. Although, it does allow the dancers to travel to various places around Wisconsin.

“SPT Maxx is available to exceptional dancers ages seven through eighteen. In order to be on Maxx, dancers must audition in summer before the session starts,” Mrs. Zentz commented. “SPT Maxx has more requirements than recreational classes, but it has more advanced classes and travel to more competitions! For example, some of the dancers are getting ready to perform at Disney World at the end of June, so we kept the other competitions a little closer to home.”

Photo Courtesy: Shuffles

Even though it was stressful for the team to perform, the team did perform and place well. For instance, Maxx Hip-Hop placed first, but they received ninth overall in their division. The Middle Maxx Jazz placed first and placed fourth overall in their division.

Koth concluded, “My favorite part about this whole competition was getting to perform all the dances with my teammates this season, seeing how we all improved overtime and seeing how we do as a team at the first competition.”