The Huntington Highsteppers will always remember their trip to the Dance Team Union national championships in Orlando, Florida. The hip dance group placed among the top high school squads in four different categories and came home thrilled that all their hard work had paid handsome dividends.
This marks the first time that Huntington has competed in the Dance Team Union nationals. The Highsteppers vied against 39 of the strongest high school dance teams in the country, placing fourth in both jazz and kick, fifth in team performance and sixth in pom.
“We took a big gamble with switching our dance competition this year,” said Paige Tyree, who coaches the Highsteppers along with Jessica Harris. “Dance Team Union is new and very competitive. It drew some of the best teams in the country. We were thrilled to bring home trophies in all four of our categories.”
Huntington Highsteppers coach Paige Tyree.
The Highsteppers have been refining their routines since last spring. Team members practice as a group and also take private dance lessons. The dance squad performed publicly at Huntington’s fall pep rally and during halftime of several football and basketball games and competed in various Long Island and regional events.
“Our girls pushed themselves to their limits, dedicated countless hours of hard work and brought such creativity and passion to their performances this year,” Ms. Tyree said. “Jess and I couldn’t be any prouder.”
The Highsteppers are captained by seniors Christi Reinertsen, Magenta Lopez and Kelsey Miller and junior Bethany Danziger. The team also includes dancers Nicole Sevilla, Casey Moskowitz, Jamie Spector, Sophia Ornato, Charlotte Brosoff, Kaitlyn Smith, Sophia LaCentra, Casey Smith, Brooke Cafiero, Bella Thompson, Mia Redick and Livia D’Anna. Ally Arleo is the team manager.
“We’ve had a successful season, thanks in large part to the tireless effort of our captains,” Ms. Tyree said. “They took initiative in all areas, including choreography and rose to the occasion every time they needed to. They made a deep impact on our team and we will miss them tremendously next year.”
The Highsteppers have grown close to one another and it will be hard for the seniors to move on to college and leave behind so many good friends and such memorable experiences.
“I had an amazing time with our team this weekend,” Ms. Miller said. “We all came together and bonded on another level. I have enjoyed my experience completely on this team and I can’t believe it has come to an end so quickly. I will keep highstepping with me for the rest of my life, and I will never forget the amazing relationships I have formed because of it.”
The Huntington team has been looking forward to their trip to the nationals for months. The coaches and dancers flew to Florida late last week, departing from Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma.
“I am so proud of our team for not only performing so well this year, but also for our energetic and positive spirit,” Ms. Lopez said. “It is bittersweet to think that all of my highstepping seasons are over. They have been filled with some of my most memorable high school experiences. We are a family.”
Huntington’s exceptional performance in Orlando included Ms. LaCentra being one of just six dancers nationally to advance to the soloist finals. The sophomore competed in a field of 24 remarkably talented young women.
The seniors on the team were emotional once the competition wrapped up. The Highsteppers returned to Huntington with four large trophies proving once and for all that they are one of the finest high school dance squads in America.
“Nationals has always been the highlight of my highstepping season, but to have my last nationals ever be so successful and so outstanding is more than I could have ever asked,” Ms. Reinertsen said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that we, as a team, left everything we could on the floor and danced with all we had. Being a senior makes everything more emotional and Iexpected leaving the program to be hard, but after this weekend I can’t believe that I’ll never be a highstepper with this team again.”