Warrior Pride Impresses with Three Performances at the Central Austin Challenge Dance Competition

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  • Reaching out, Shannon Gu ’23 performs the team’s lyrical routine in their third costume change of the day. Gu went into the competition feeling confident about her team and all the extra preparation they put in during the week before.

  • Gracefully turning on the gym floors, Joanna Lin ’23 performs her last dance of the day. The lyrical dance was the team’s final performance of three, after which they waited seven hours until the award ceremony.

  • Performing the motion of ringing a telephone, Nitya Khurana ’24 stands front and center during the Warrior Pride hip-hop performance. Khurana is one of the Pride Leaders who had the added responsibility of looking after the rest of the team on an already very hectic day.

  • Dancing in the center of the formation, Sanam Talreja ’24 channels the energy and attitude required of the team for their hip-hop performance. Talreja expressed feeling nervous before they performed but was comforted by the supportive attitude from many of the other teams at the competition.

  • Nearing the end of the modern routine, Thessa Greebe ’23 guides her team members as they push back and forth. Greebe practiced extra for her solo in the routine, as she was given freedom to modify the choreographer’s moves as she wished.

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In a flurry of sequined dresses and bold colored fabrics, over 1000 dancers, volunteers, and audience members attended the Central Austin Challenge dance competition on Saturday, Feb. 11. This annual competition, newly run by Ascension Dance and hosted, as always, by the SunDancers, brought in a much greater number of teams than years past. High school and middle school dance teams, and even an elementary school team, all flocked to the field house and small gym from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., filling the parking lots and locker rooms. The sheer volume of schools attending left multiple teams changing and setting up their belongings in classrooms, or rehearsing in the atrium, rather than the dance studios. 

A special performance from the Roustabouts, a student-run dance team at the University of Texas at Austin, was included at the end of the night. Warrior Pride competed in three categories with modern, hip-hop, and lyrical dance routines. They finished the night with these awards: Grand Champion Team, Best in Class Lyrical, Best in Class Modern, First Runner Up Hip Hop, two Judges’ Awards, and Grand Champion Runner Up. As the hosts, SunDancers didn’t compete and instead performed introductory and conclusory routines. 

“[The competition] is basically a fundraiser to help support our entire competition season, whether it’s costumes, choreography, or just getting room at the PAC for Escapade later,” SunDancer Yeva Tcharikova ‘24 said. “We just like hosting to get better connections with all the other dance teams and to make them more comfortable with us as a team.”

Many parent volunteers were present at the contest, seen selling tickets and concessions, and manning the gym doors. Preparations began the night before, when National Honor Society (NHS) volunteers and SunDancers began setting up the building to properly house the immense volume of people arriving the following morning. 

“I am in charge of selling shoutouts, so the announcers in each of the gyms are announcing for those who buy a shoutout [which is] a message of good luck for the dancers as they go on to perform,” parent volunteer Laurie Weinstein said. 

For Warrior Pride, their morning began with their modern routine, a witchy, flowing performance to a remix of the famed I Put a Spell on You. The team has never competed with a modern routine before and opted to prepare a third routine this year (in comparison to two routines last year) for the sake of possibly winning Grand Champion, an award that can only be acquired if a team performs in at least three categories. Their extra preparation paid off when they closed the night with several trophies and plaques. 

“[The performance] is definitely a darker theme than we’ve done in the past, so I really like that it’s new and original,” Pride Leader Nicole Frazier ‘23 said.

Warrior Pride has been preparing and learning all three dances since they got back from winter break and will be continuing to practice and refine their routines until the end of the year. Thessa Greebe ‘23, one of seven Pride Leaders on the team, was the only dancer to perform a solo as a part of one of the team’s three dances.

“After we had the choreographer come in and choreograph it for us, the directors [asked us] ‘How do you interpret this song?’ and we kind of came up with witches and magic, casting the spell. We joked that I’m like the witch hunter controlling them. We just wanted it to be creepy and a little mysterious,” Greebe said.

She has been a member of the team since her freshman year when she and Frazier won first in their category for a duo that they choreographed and prepared in addition to their team dances back in 2020, an option that all the dancers attending had. 

“I remember in our freshman year, in my contemporary dance, there was this small group of girls who had this special part and I always looked up to them like ‘I want to be them one day!’ and then I got a solo on [modern] and it was very exciting. I obviously was a little bit nervous for it but it was just cool,” Greebe said. 

Many dancers on the team expressed their worries that they had leading up to competition day because they missed out on an entire week of practice due to the ice storm and had to make up for lost time with morning practices.

“The week before contest is always really hectic, there’s a lot of dress rehearsal and there were a couple things that were changed the day before so that was a little stressful. But overall, I think all of us were pretty excited to perform at contest because it’s our first major performance,” Pride Leader Sophia Huang ‘24 said.

When it came time for their second performance of the day, Warrior Pride changed from black lace dresses into color blocked jackets and shorts for hip-hop.

“I like [the hip-hop routine] the most because of its energy, I really like all of the song switch-ups and our dance. Every song we have this different style, and I really enjoy the aspect of getting to change around my facial expressions and getting to play with energy. Some moves are groovy and some are really high-energy and out there,” Warrior Pride member Angela Yue ‘24 said. 

For one member, the day was extra special. Anamitra Ghosh ‘26, celebrated her 15th birthday on the same day of her first competition with the team. 

“They dedicated our team hip-hop to me which was really fun because hip-hop is my favorite, I had my little solo moment in the locker room performing which was really fun because everyone was hyping me up,” Ghosh said. 

After a hectic morning of costume changes and shuffling around their crowded, shared locker room, Warrior Pride did their final performance of the day, a lyrical routine for the contemporary category. 

“I think as our last piece for contest today it really sums up this whole year of hard work and all the effort that we put into the dances and it’s a really great dance for us to show support for each other,” Pride Leader Shannon Gu ‘23 said. 

Warrior Pride will be performing the same three routines that they performed for this competition at Escapade, starting March 31, and at Merge on May 5.