October 19, 2011

Dance Squads revs up Knox school spirit

The members of the Knox College Dance Squad are not your average cheerleaders.
Founded in 2003, this largely student-run club features dancers who are committed to practicing, choreographing and performing on a regular basis.
“Dance squad is an organization on campus dedicated to giving students with intermediate — advanced level technique an opportunity to channel that into more of a peppy style of dance,” senior Brandon Paraharm said.
Some of the dance styles that have been exhibited include jazz, street, lyrical, poms, kick, stunt, drill and hip-hop. Because any willing individual has the opportunity to choreograph, a variety of techniques have been and will continue to be explored.
Dance Squad meets three times a week to practice new choreography. On occasion, dancers have only these three rehearsals to learn and perfect routines that are minutes long. Nevertheless, they are ready and excited to perform during halftime at football and basketball games.
“We’re kind of like the Luvabulls for the Chicago Bulls and the Laker Girls for the Lakers,” junior Lieutenant Torri Baird said. “It’s to raise the spirit of the crowd.”
Dance Squad hopes to remain a present source of encouragement for Knox sports teams even when they are not performing.
“We’re trying to sit together as a team in the student section and cheer the team on and stay for games,” senior co-captain Brynn Ogilvie said. “We really do support the teams. That’s why we perform.”
Another important motivation to perform is simply a passion for dance.
“It’s basically hanging out with your friends and doing what you love,” junior Caitlin Harrison said.
Many members of Dance Squad have prior dance experience, participate in the Terpsichore Dance Collective and/or take other dance classes on campus. The team is only brought closer together through this shared passion.
“They were my first family, my first Knox family,” Paraharm said. “It’s just a lot of love and a lot of support. That’s the main reason I’m staying there.”
In this supportive environment, there is room for individual choreographers to grow and challenge themselves.
“I think I’ve changed a lot as a choreographer,” Ogilvie said. “It’s been very interesting to think of [dance ideas], and then learning from the other squad members as well, and what they come up with.”
Paraharm, who was the squad’s first male member, has had a similar experience as a choreographer.
“Every time I choreograph for dance squad, it just gets exponentially better,” Paraharm said. “I learn technique from everybody else. I try to implement everything that’s important to somebody — like their primary style — and put that into my dance.”
A goal that Dance Squad has is to perform in national competitions. Because these competitions have a lot of prerequisites, this goal is still a work in progress. For now, the team is focused on being active at and around Knox.
“Hopefully it will be a bigger part of the community,” Ogilvie said.

Chelsea Embree
Chelsea Embree is a senior majoring in creative writing and minoring in art history. She previously served as co-mosaic editor and as an arts and features reporter for TKS. During the summer of 2013, she served as a content intern at The St. Louis Beacon. Chelsea has studied under former Random House copy chief Sean Mills and taught writing as a teaching assistant for First-Year Preceptorial. An avid blogger, she has written extensively about youth in St. Louis and maintains a lively poetry and nonfiction blog on Tumblr. She is also the director of communications for Mortar Board and co-president of Terpsichore Dance Collective.

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