The Mankato East Dance Company returns for its annual performance series, and one thing is clear: they can’t stop dancing.
Twenty dances over two hours means audience members will have plenty of entertainment during the show which is called, fittingly, “Can’t Stop Dancing.”
The show’s title comes from the song of the same name by Becky G, released in 2015. Team captains say that one of the reasons they chose that song — which provides the show’s big closing number — is because it had the word “dance” in it. But they also chose it because it sums up the attitude of the more than 30 members of the Mankato East Dance Company.
Many of the girls have been involved in dance since their toddler years. Others have picked it up more recently.
Together, the girls say the team has become like a family. At the head of it are a big group of upperclassmen — including 12 seniors — who are leading the way and setting the example.
Mankato East Dance Company has a system in place to link freshmen with upperclassmen called Big Sis Little Sis. That program fosters a family atmosphere, and encourages development among younger dancers.
“It’s good because you always have someone to talk to,” said Carly Nelson, one of the team’s captains. (The other captains are Hannah Weng and Maggie Taylor.)
Added Taylor, “It was good to know that upperclassmen cared.”
Such mentorship didn’t go unnoticed.
“You guys were always mindful of keeping everyone in the know,” assistant coach Lindsey Northenscold said to the captains.
The family theme extends beyond the team members. Moms have helped create decorations, and dads are ready to take the stage for the usually awkward, always-entertaining daughter/dad dance.
“It’s not just about the girls,” team coach Nancy Kowalski said. “The whole family gets involved.”
The group began meeting in mid-November. And from the very beginning they began unifying.
“This has been one of the best years as far as team bonding,” Taylor said.
Kowalski said the team’s seniors have fostered encouragement, and that has made this a special year for the Mankato East Dance Company.
“There’s a lot of respect of the upperclassmen by the lowerclassmen,” she said.
As for the show itself, it will have the usual amount of variety of dance styles. A group of witty emcees will inject humor into the night. And the end promises to be a powerful finale.
Northenscold said she was on a high school dance team several years ago. The athleticism required for some of the dances today is far beyond what they did when she was dancing.
“I always joke that if I tried out for the team today I wouldn’t make it,” she said.
The team’s captains said they’re expecting big crowds for their performances, crowds that will include a student section and plenty of family and friends.
“There’s going to be something for everyone to enjoy,” said Weng.
Robb Murray is the Features Editor for The Free Press. He can be reached at 344-6386 or email@example.com. Follow Robb on Twitter @FreePressRobb