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Teammate inspires Jordan High drill team; Alta High to compete at nationals

Mar 07, 2018 05:02PM ● Published by Julie Slama

Jordan High drill team performs their mime character dance. (Kevin Darrow/Jordan High)

She’s been stared at, had nasty comments made to her and then, later, those dancers who talked about her came to apologize.

Even though Jordan High freshman Taylor Tilby, a member of the Jordan High drill team, said she appreciated them apologizing, it doesn’t make it any easier.

Tilby has TAR syndrome, a rare genetic condition in which she was born without the radius bone on the forearm. Tilby also has a right Van Ness leg prosthetic because her knee was fused.

“I love to dance and I want to show others what I can do,” Tilby said. “I can’t stop people from staring at me, so why not do what I love?”

It’s that attitude that head coach Lacey Wing said inspires her team.

“She is our hardest worker and she never complains,” Wing said. “I saw her dance when she was little, on a mini cheer squad. She was incredible then and has taken every opportunity to improve. She gives our team a new perspective and they realize there is so much more than winning.”

As a result, Wing said the 23-member team has become closer.

“Our bond as a team is incredible. She inspires her teammates and I’ve heard from other coaches how she has inspired their teams,” she said.

 Tilby said she’s there for her fellow Charlonians.

“I love how we work hard every day. We get up early every morning so we’re practicing by 5:45, and then we’ve practiced after school and on Saturdays. We do a lot for each other and with each other,” she said.

Tilby, who had a cousin on the drill team, was motivated to join when her friend, Kinzie Tait, asked her to audition with her.

“I was doing solo competitions with my studio, but these girls on the team have become my friends,” she said, adding that it helped her with her transition to high school. 

When Jordan qualified for state by placing fourth in region, Wing said that the excitement was almost uncontainable.

“It’s the best our girls have ever done. We’ve had a lot of coaching changes and inconsistency. The year before I came on, they barely had enough girls for a team,” said Wing, who has coached the past two seasons.

Wing, who graduated from the program in 2008, was joined by two other Jordan High drill alumni, Sadie Osborne and Stephanie Darrow.

“We went back to the basics and taught techniques. This created a bond among the girls and put pride back in our program,” she said.

That translates into their dances with their best dance being military, Wing said.

“For us, it clicked right away. We had precision from the start and that usually takes months,” she said.

This year, their character dance is a mime dance.

“The girls’ faces are painted white with silly expressions and they wear white gloves and black and white striped costumes. The girls embody the characters and the judges love it and want more,” she said.

Tilby and her teammates perform in the dance program set to the song “Birds Set Free,” something she said has “just let us dance for the love of it. We show how strong we are and how much we mean to each other.”

This season, the team won sweepstakes at the Wasatch Invitational in December by winning first in officer dance, pom and dance, second in character, and third in hip-hop.

“We were shocked. We weren’t used to our school name being called in the top three,” Wing said.

At the Jan. 13 Rocky Mountain Classic, they placed third overall in 5A, with a first place in officer, second in pom and third place in military, dance, character and hip-hop.

“We received the judge’s choice award with best technique,” Wing said.

Next up for the team is a 6 p.m., Thursday, March 1 showcase in the school’s gym, 95 E. Beetdigger Blvd. (9880 South), followed by tryout clinics at 4 p.m., Wednesday, March 7 and again, Wednesday, March 14. Auditions for girls who have a 2.5 GPA or higher will be at 3:30 p.m., Thursday, March 22 and Friday, March 23. There will be tryout packets at Jordan as well as Eastmont and Mount Jordan middle schools.

Before this season’s Charlonians disband, they will take master contemporary dance classes at The Edge and workshops at Disneyland March 15–18.

“We want the girls to see what the dance world looks like and to help prepare them with more experience,” Wing said. “It’s been a great season and they’ve learned so much more than winning.”

Alta High School’s 29-member drill team, Las Scelles, is scheduled to compete in the Contest of Champions March 3 at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando after competing at state.

“I am happy that the girls got the opportunity to compete at state,” head coach Kesha Prince said. “The experience is good to have, even without going on to finals. This team came in to the year more skilled than any of my previous years. However, the one thing I am very proud of is their ability to keep pushing. They have learned new skills and really pushed to the point that might not be comfortable to them. So, although we didn’t do well with placing, I am happy that they are growing in the art of dancing.”

Through the season, Prince said the team focused on improvement through three invitational meets: Wasatch Invitational, Falcon Classic and the Rocky Mountain Invitational. 

Their character dance is one of Egyptian goddesses.

“Our costumes are so cool, with lots of gold, metallic blue and velvet. We have staffs with cobras at the top and black wigs. I came up with the idea by thinking of something that could be intense but could match our style and skill of the dancers,” Prince said.

Alta’s theme for the year, “Vinimous, Vidimous, Vicimous” or “We came, we saw, we conquer,” was a shift from the individual to a team approach, she said.

“Our captain came up with it and when doing so she wanted something that included a team ideal. Our theme is focused on the ‘we’ (as) there is no ‘I’ in team,” she said.

One regularly scheduled team activity is to perform service projects every quarter. Prince said that during the first quarter the team went to Altara Elementary to read to the kindergartners, and last quarter they held a toy and item drive for Primary Children’s Hospital.

After nationals, Las Scelles will hold a year-end show in late March before holding tryouts at 7:30 a.m., Saturday, April 28. A parent meeting will be held at 7 p.m., Thursday, April 19. Girls need to have a 3.0 GPA to try out for drill, but must maintain a 2.5 GPA while on the team, she said. 

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