Poms to compete in first dance season


Senior Maria Roches performs during the Loyalty Day assembly on Sept. 10. The varsity poms team in scheduled to compete in IHSA competitive season for the first time in school history once football season ends. Photo by Jenna Amusin

During an informational meeting before poms tryouts last spring, junior Raquel Press found out the varsity team would participate in the 2021-2022 competitive dance season for the first year in Glenbrook North history.

“We were very shocked at first and almost taken aback because none of us really expected it.

“At the same time there was a sense of excitement because it is something new that we’re doing,” Press said.

According to Varsity Poms Coach Nicole Collins, the decision to compete this year is the result of conversations over the past four or five years between parents, students, coaches, Athletic Director John Catalano and Student Activities Director Michael Tarjan.

Dancers must try out at the end of October for the competition team, which will compete in the area while also performing at basketball games.

The sideline and competition dances will have a similar style, however the team will work with choreographer Ellie Duerst for their competition routines to focus on sharpness, precision and visuals within the dance routine, Collins said.

According to Press, she was excited about the addition of a competition season because she competed in middle school and remembers it to be very fun.

“[The competition] also makes poms a lot more serious this year than it had ever been before.

“Being on a competition stage brings it to a whole new level, obviously, because there are judges in front of you and there’s a lot of pressure,” said Press. “But I also enjoyed getting feedback from the judges on how we can improve because at a normal performance at a football game it’s not like there are people telling us what we can do better next time.”

Mollie Kaufman, IHSA advisory board member for competitive dance, said in a phone interview that the IHSA officially adopted poms as a sport in 2012.

Dance competitions can have anywhere from five to 90 teams, Kaufman said.

At each competition there are four to five judges, consisting of three or four panel judges and one or two technical judges.

Panel judges focus on the scoring rubric as they pay attention to choreography, musicality, technique and difficulty, followed by commenting on the dance.

Technical judges look for IHSA violations such as if a dancer misses a skill or performs an illegal skill. Violations include drops, tumbling and partner skills.

According to Collins, the decision to participate in the competitive dance season allows for the team to “show the community and the other schools in the area what [they] got.”

According to Press, “As a whole, competing is really fun.
“It’s just another level of competition.”