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Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

Warrior Pride Dazzles Audiences at Central Austin Challenge Dance Contest

Jessica Wang
Beaming at their audience, Warrior Pride hits a power stance during their jazz routine. Pride members worked hard on their stage presence and facials in preparation for the performance. “Walking on the dance floor, I am just excited and happy to be here,” Alicia Kanazawa de Figueiredo ’25 said. “Once the music starts playing I put everything out there and just have lots of fun dancing.”

Smooth swishes of chiffon fabric and the tell-tale click of jazz shoes on a polished wooden floor were all witnesses to the flurry of dance performances that took place at the Central Austin Challenge (CAC) dance competition on Saturday, Feb. 10. An event managed and run by Ascension Dance and hosted by the Westwood SunDancers, the contest saw guests from an unprecedented number of middle schools and high schools arriving from across the region to showcase their talents in a multitude of styles and categories.

As acting hosts, SunDancers refrained from the competition and instead presented exhibitionary pieces — leaving the sole Westwood representation in the hands of the JV Warrior Pride team. Learning and honing their prepared pieces since September, Pride competed in three categories including contemporary, hip-hop, and jazz, bringing home three awards in the Overall Runner Up and Judge’s Choice categories.

“I think it’s been a really fun experience to see a lot of other dance teams in the surrounding Austin area because that really inspires me to be a better dancer,” Pride member Nandini Somarapu ‘25 said.

Following months of perfecting technique, cleaning pieces, and cultivating stamina in their dancers, Pride has worked hard to deliver a range of bold and unique performances. Especially due to the widespread sickness that gripped Westwood in the recent months and the rising number of extracurricular capstone events of the spring semester, Pride dealt with numerous absences and dynamic circumstances throughout their practice regimen. Ranging from early morning practices to drilling entry and exit formations repeatedly under the roof of the field house, Pride worked endlessly to hone their pieces.

“We have had a lot of practice, practice, practice, and cleaning and morning practices. [Personally, the preparation for me has] just [been] getting my confidence up and getting myself excited to perform,” Somarapu said. “[We’ve been working on] both technique and stamina — we’ve been going over a lot of cleaning with our counts and then running our dances over and over again to make sure we all have enough stamina to perform to our best ability.” ”

Diverging from the classic competitive, pressure-ridden environment, the CAC contest provided a valuable opportunity for dancers to engage and interact with one another in a supportive and colorful setting. Hyping up teams from the performer stands, dancers worked to foster a positive community environment.

“I loved watching the other teams perform as it was truly an amazing experience,” Pride member Shivali Sahu ‘26 said. “Every team was so kind and anytime we would be waiting for us to go perform we’d be wished good luck, and then often cheered for after our performance. The whole environment was very high energy.”

With months of practice and preparation comes loaded pressure and expectations for many members. However some dancers have a different perspective, believing that the overwhelming amounts of practice has had a positive impact on their mental and emotional views towards CAC.

“I think preparing has lessened the pressure because it builds all of our confidence, in myself as well as the whole team,” Somarapu said. “Going in, I was like there are a lot of good teams we are competing against, and coming out, I was like we did our best, and now watching the videos, we did so good, like it was so much better than I thought that we did, and I’m really happy with how it turned out.”

Concluding a long day filled to the brim with performances, hours of warm-up and practice, and team-wide down time in the safety of the locker room, the awards ceremony was a much anticipated endeavor for many of Pride’s dancers.

“In the past, Warrior Pride has consistently been a champion team for each of our dance routines in terms of awards, but this year we saw a clear decline in placement,” Pride member Alicia Kanazawa de Figueiredo said. “However, I still had just as much fun performing, and I am still proud of being a part of such a special team, so I don’t really mind the results at all.”

Bringing together not only multiple teams from across the area, but also allowing an opportunity for Pride members to spend quality time together, the CAC contest allowed Pride members to experience pastimes such as playing cards, dance parties, or listening to music together.

“As a low commitment dance team, Warrior Pride doesn’t get to spend a ton of time together, so it’s really nice to get one full day to hang out with our friends and do what we love,” Kanazawa de Figueiredo said.

As they look ahead to the rest of their performance season, Warrior Pride will begin preparing for their upcoming spring shows, Escapade and Merge. Offering a unique glimpse into the supportive environment crafted by the dancers, Pride anticipates an exciting rest of season.

“It feels so good [to be around other teams and see them perform],” Somarapu said. “The whole dancing environment is such an amazing place to be in because everyone is so positive and supportive of other dancers — I [absolutely] love it.”

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About the Contributors
Aarya Kale
Aarya Kale, Reporter
Class of 2026 Hey! Besides being a passionate writer and photographer, I also happen to have a liking for all things cheese :) If I don’t happen to be eating some, I’m probably off reading a nice book or hanging out with my friends!
Jessica Wang
Jessica Wang, Heritage Section Editor
Class of 2024 I’ve always pursued creative expression in my day-to-day life, whether it be painting, photography, or music. Although writing has never been my strong point, it’s grown to be one of my favorite creative outlets, which is why I’m excited to be working on Student Press this year. When I’m not staring at my homework in a daze, I also enjoy listening to music, particularly indie pop, and reading. 

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