Opinion: The Dance Team Deserves More Recognition

How can students support school activities that are not as high profile as others?

A majority of PHS students have seen the Chiefs Dance Team perform at the football and basketball games, but not too many are aware of the things that go on behind the scenes. The stereotypes that surround women portray them to be delicate and unathletic, so by association dance has become synonymous with these characteristics. Dance is a sport, and one that should be taken seriously. The time and ethic that is dedicated to learn the routines and perform can parallel the work a football player goes through to prepare for a game.

For starters, there are multiple hours being put in by all members during the week. Jessica Taylor, a PHS dance teacher and also the coach of the dance team, clarifies that dancers spend, “anywhere from 8-15 hours [a week] especially when we have a game.” Members of the team are still students and have schoolwork to do, but they continue to push themselves mentally and physically to give the best performance.

As previously stated, Ms. Taylor also teaches dance classes at PHS, but many confuse the style of dance that the dance team does with dance classes at school. Taylor clarifies: “A lot of people equate the class with the team and vice versa. They think that what happens on the dance team happens in my classes, which is actually the exact opposite. We work on contemporary technique and the theory and history of dance in [my class].”

Regardless of the style of dance, dance is not only a sport but it is an art.

“To express through the body is unlike any other art form. I think people that don’t dance don’t understand that yea we’re doing all these shapes, we’re moving, we’re doing all this fun stuff, and that’s great, but that not just that,” Ms. Taylor explains, “There’s so many other things that come with it. The physical strain on the body, sometimes mental hardships you can go through just trying to be the best that you can be. I feel most dancers are emotionally connected to their craft too.” There is so much more to dance than just the fun, hype music playing. It is something you connect to on a deeper level.

While dance can be a way to do exercise and have fun with fellow dancers, some believe it can also be a form of therapy.

Ms. Taylor believes that, “everyone needs some kind of outlet to express themselves in some way. It’s just easier sometimes to communicate through art. I have seen so many students come in and just transform as people because dance has been their way to process emotion, process feelings, process experience and build community together.” In a world that sometimes feels so disconnected, dance is a way to feel united to others.

Both the dance team and dance classes at PHS can sometimes be overlooked and not taken as seriously. How can things change?

Ms. Taylor gives a very simple solution: “Acknowledgement from peers, acknowledgement from the staff and administration is always great. I think a lot of people come to the football games so the dance team is very visible. My class is not as visible and not as many people see the class. I think coming to a dance performance, yes supporting the dance team and coming to see those performances as well, but also coming to the spring dance concert. This year it will be May 12th and 13th at 7pm at the Piscataway High School PAC!