March 4, 2019
From the curve of the finger to the angle of the head, every detail is accounted for. Every detail is perfected.
“Dancers strive for perfection [as] the main goal, because it’s a visual art and the whole purpose of dance team … is to be very uniform, very together,” Nodia said. “Dance is one unit and one person. … That’s the impressive part about it: you’re able to have all these different people with all these different skill levels and talents, but you’re able to make them look like one unit.”
With a schedule that requires the team to be at West most mornings and ready to practice by 6:30 a.m. and to stay late Friday afternoons, the team is always working towards being one unit and perfection. However, their hard work does not go unnoticed, as they won two state titles and placed 24th in small varsity at nationals in Orlando, Florida this past January. But when it comes to the student body at West High, not many think of a team that placed in the top 25 percent in the nation when they hear poms.
“I think just stepping back and realizing that [being one of the best teams in the nation] doesn’t just come because of the way they look or the things that they do. They’re athletes and they’re artists and they devote a lot of time into mastering that,” Gomez said.
Both coaches were a part of their high school dance team and have been surrounded by dance throughout their lives.
“We definitely understand the stereotype of what poms brings to any school and to any collegiate level honestly. But I think the biggest thing that it’s not necessarily like poms, it’s more of dance in general,” Fallon said, going on to say that when someone mentions that they dance it’s usually not a positive response.
“I think the biggest thing that as coaches Jenny and I strive to do is understand, … because [being stereotyped is] going to happen, and our job as dancers or people in this society is to try to change the minds of other people just through our actions. … We can relate to it, because, I mean, we still get it.” During the football and basketball seasons, the dance team performs at halftime as a way to entertain the audience and prepare for upcoming competitions. However, performing in front of the school is something that many members on the team do not look forward to.
“They choose not to face the student section. And when they do, they immediately regret facing the student section,” Fallon said. “I was so disappointed in the culture of the student section at one of the basketball [games]. They were blatantly laughing and pointing and yelling inappropriate things.”
“I know that really affects the girls. They don’t enjoy performing at games,” Gomez said. “They watched the students and their peers mock them from the sidelines, and they hear a lot of stuff being said about them at school and being talked about, and I think it’s a really negative atmosphere. I think that really affects the culture of the team and their sense of pride. Their job is a lot like the cheerleaders: build up and raise spirit. It’s really hard to do that when their spirits [are] always being broken down by their peers who they’re supposed to be building up. But how can you when that’s how you feel?”
Through everything the girls on the team deal with, they find that it is worth it because they get to do what they love: dance.
“We’re on [the team] to dance. I feel like people forget that it’s about dancing to us. Not the extra things that people like to put it; it’s not like we think we’re above anybody else. It doesn’t matter … Everyone is equal. I feel like some people forget that you have to dig deeper to find that out,” Haney said.