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Dancing their way to the top

By: Lauren Weber, The Press-Tribune
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Tiny dancers, from ages 4 and up, attended Oakmont High School's dance team clinic on Feb. 11 to raise money for the 2008 USA Dance/Drill nationals competition. The team is set to compete for a national title March 6-9 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim. Oakmont's dance team has attended nationals before and their trophy case is full of awards to showing off their talent, but this is the first year Oakmont High School has won a state title for dance, said Kim Silva, the dance team coach. The girls work very hard to get there, she said. The 14 girls on the team are dancing and saving to get to the competition that weeds out the weak “ nationals, which cost $540 per girl, Silva said. And last week's clinic was one of the many fundraising events they have held to raise money for the contest. We've been fundraising all year, she said. In addition to saving every cent they get, team practice has been intense. They attended three summer camps, which kick off the season and practice three to four nights a week. The commitment level is really extensive, Silva said. And they have a very rigorous practice schedule. The Oakmont team has six competitive dances prepared and five of them they are taking to nationals “ hip hop, military, lyrical, officers and kick routine. Team captains Kaila Rieboldt, Emalee Clarizio and Mariam Modjaver, said that the team's favorite dance is the hip hop routine, but their strongest dance as a team is military, which won them first place in the state competition recently. I was shocked, Rieboldt said. Rieboldt, a junior at Oakmont, has been on the dance team since her freshman year and began dancing at the age of 3, along with fellow team captain Clarizio, a senior. But not every girl on the team has as much dance experience as these two. Silva said the levels of the dancers vary, from freshman to senior and from lifelong dancers to inexperienced. Approximately 40 girls try out for the team of 14 and many attempt to make the team year after year. We take the best of the best, Silva said. Over the years, Silva has seen dance and drill teams develop more styles and techniques than even five years back. The level of technique has gone up tremendously. They have broadened the styles of dance, Silva said. Despite this being Silva's first year coaching at Oakmont High School, she is no stranger to teaching dance and has been coaching at the high school level for seven years. This year, Silva teamed up with professional choreographers, including a student at Julliard, to prepare the girls for national level. I knew I could take the team really far, Silva said. Silva is convinced that a positive personality is everything in dance. With the right attitude, I can train anyone. It's really just their attitudes that takes them, she said. The team was all smiles as they preformed their award-winning military routine for the young dancers at the clinic. The clinic taught interested dancers a routine that they preformed at the Oakmont basketball game on Feb. 13 and proceeds from the clinic will help fund the team's trip to nationals. We're excited, we just want to do our best, said Clarizio, one of the team captains. Until March, the team will be devoted to their dancing, sharpening their moves and perfecting the routines. Donations can be made to OHS Dance, Care of Jacquie Clarizio, 5316 New Britton Circle, Antelope, CA 95845.