- Alexandra Hull ’22
One of the highlights of the school year for many students, parents, and athletes alike is undoubtedly the Fall football season. Being under Friday night lights in a huge high school crowd is unforgettable, and is often a source of fun memories that students can look back on for the rest of their lives. But, perhaps the best part of the whole season is watching Pulse perform at halftime.
It always seems that no matter what the conditions are (cold temperatures, uneventful game), Pulse’s music, smiles, and fast-paced routines always help infuse the crowd with energy. In fact, many students come not for the football game, but rather to watch Pulse rock it at halftime. However, much of our student body does not recognize that like any other sport at SHP, Pulse has different tiers, ranging from more experienced or “varsity” level dancers to more novice “junior-varsity” levels. Those who truly value and enjoy dance, are offered the opportunity to join Pulse’s year-round competition team. Although joining the team is a demanding commitment, many of its members claim it is one of their favorite parts of being a gator. With the team’s combination of enthusiasm, hard-work, and love for dance, this school-year has led them to reach new heights. This year’s team has had great success so far, recently winning first place platinum in both dances they performed at the Star Systems National Talent Competition. Their contemporary piece, entitled “Missing You,” won the choreographers award and their hip-hop routine, “Are You That Somebody,” won first place overall.
The team is entered into a category based off of three main factors: group size, average age, and dance style. Depending on these categories and the awards received, teams can be offered scholarships to future competitions, money, or donations in their name following major victories. But these accomplishments do not come for granted; the team dedicates countless hours to practicing routines, bonding with one another, and ensuring that when they hit the stage, they are flawless. But, in order to make this happen, the performance team has two to four after-school practices a week depending on which routines they are pursuing (halftime shows, competition rehearsals, musical performances).
And their hard-work does not stop there; each student on the competition team is additionally required to take a dance class during E period where they can continue to perfect their moves. So the team can have up to seven or eight “practices” per school week depending on how the schedule pans out. Thus, due to the demanding program, not all dancers are able to make the full-time commitment to be on Pulse’s “top tier.” Ms. Benjamin, Pulse’s dance coach, mentor, and teacher recognizes this dynamic, and is careful in selecting students who she is confident can succeed in both school and dance while on the competition team. At the June audition, Ms. B chooses such individuals but also often has to make cuts because not all regular Pulse dancers are ready for the big step up. Although it can be a difficult job, Ms. B never gives up on her students and almost always works with those she cuts to make sure that in the following years they will improve enough to make the team. She also makes an effort to occasionally offer all Pulse dancers the opportunity to participate in performance team events including various conventions or school musicals.
Since the team spends so much time with one another within dance classes, practices, and competitions, they have grown to be one of the tightest groups on campus. Ilaria Freccia ‘22, a member of the group remarks, “The vibe of the team is so positive. We always check in with each other before we dance and, although it can be hard to open up sometimes, our team has really bonded as a whole. There is no drama and we just deeply care for each other regardless of differences.” Alessandra Saverese ‘22 adds by sharing, “I love being on the team because it is full of so many amazing people who always inspire me and many others. The environment is very supportive and everyone always wants the best for one another. It is a very unique experience where you can create strong bonds with people while also having a shared love for dance.”
The team is currently unsure of when their next performance may occur due to many unknowns surrounding COVID-19, but make sure to congratulate them on their recent victory when you get a chance.