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Senior Royalettes Lead Group With Experience


Courtney Perkinson by Sarah Daniel

Senior Courtney Perkinson dances at the opening pep rally. Photo Ian Kelty

Performing her hip-hop routine, “Where Have You Been” by Rhianna, in front of hundreds of people is an every week thing for senior, Courtney Perkinson. Hearing cheers from the crowd only pushes her and the rest of the dance team to give it 110%.

She has been dancing for nine years now, five of them being on the dance team.Over the past five years the dance team has improved dramatically.

“Our techniques have improved and we have a new choreographer,” Perkinson said. “It has also gotten a lot stricter.”

Perkinson has not always been the outgoing, confident person she is now. She has come out of her shell since being on the dance team.

“I used to be really shy,” Perkinson said. “Being a dancer has made me have a lot more confidence.”

Every captain on the dance team has a specific job they are in charge of, Perkinson’s job is to keep everyone informed on any events or fundraisers.

One of Perkinson’s favorite things about dance team is her teammates. She considers them friends as well as family.

One of the biggest moments for their team was competition last year when the Royalettes placed in their kickline routine.

“A lot of people don’t think it’s a big deal,” Perkinson said. “But to us it really was.”

The Royalettes attend practice almost everyday after school. They also dance at every football game and basketball game. For these dancers, it has become an everyday routine.

Perkinson is an excellent example of how dancing can affect not only your schedule, but also your character. Perkinson shows her outgoing personality with everything she does. She makes sure to show good sportsmanship and personality.

As a senior, Perkinson will be sad when she has to leave the Royalettes. She would love to continue to her dancing career as a part of the Longwood Lancers.

Dance will certainly always be a huge part of Perkinson’s life.

Rachel Pugh by Debra Thomas

Senior Rachel Pugh

The pep rally is about to begin, and the dance team takes their place. Five, six, seven, eight. The dance begins and the crowd erupts with cheers as they perform. Senior Rachel Pugh is very familiar with this sound. She has been dancing for almost six years now.

“I think that dance is a great choice for people who do not classify themselves as athletic,” Pugh said. “You have to have a different coordination. It is also a good way to find yourself.”

Pugh started dancing when she was in the seventh grade at Traylor Dance Academy, and then she transferred to Dance Kraze two years ago. Between these two schools she has trained in jazz, tap, and lyrical.

“Jazz is my favorite because it is what I started with, and it is what I have done the longest,” Pugh said.

Pugh started dancing for the Royalettes as a freshman. There she was introduced to hip-hop.

“Since being on the team I noticed that as a senior you have more responsibility,” Pugh said. “Instead of looking for guidance, you have to be the one to give it.”

Although Pugh loves to dance she is not looking for a career in it.

“I like dance, but it is something for stress relief, and it is something that I’m good at,” Pugh said. “But I want to pursue something more academic. It is not something I am going to give up though.”

Senior Jasmine Jones by JoJo Taylor

Senior Jasmine Jones

Senior Jasmine Jones went from hearing the sound of the swish from the basketball net to hearing the music she dances along with.  She had to make a tough decision whether to stick with basketball or move on to dancing.

Michael Jackson was the one person who inspired Jones to start dancing.  She has no doubt that he started a beginning to the new generation of dance.  His whole mentality in life was devoted to dancing.

“Hip hop is my favorite type of dancing because I can express any of my emotions,” Jones said. “It is different than any other genre of music.”

Jones has been on the dance team for four years.  This year is different, she believes that the team has become a family.  As a senior, Jones plays the part of one of the captains.

“It feels amazing to be a leader on this team,” Jones said. “It is just good to know that we have come so far, and it feels even better to know I was a part of it.”

Jones does not want to major in dancing, but she would like to dance for the college of her choice.  She wants to audition for Dancing with the Stars or So You Think You Can Dance.  Her last wish is to have a dance studio in her house.  Dance will always be apart of her life.

“The reason I chose dance, even though I love basketball, was because I have a passion for dancing.  My life revolves around dance,” Jones said.  “It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make.”

 Corrine Harris by Lindsay Pugh

Senior Corrine Harris

While senior Corinne Harris hasn’t ever stepped foot in a dance studio and only joined an organized team when she was a freshman, she has been dancing for far longer.

“I danced around everywhere when I was little,” Harris said.

Harris has been on the Royalettes Dance Team for four years out of the five it’s been active.  The team performs twice at each home football game, during pregame and halftime. This year, the team has stepped up, learning two new dances each week instead of one.  It hasn’t been a challenge for Harris, “a fast learner”, but a lot more has to get done in the three afternoon practices before the game.

The increased effort being put in by the team makes Harris hopeful for a win at the Manchester Lancer Dancer Invitational dance competition, as well as their new choreographer, Tiffany Miller, “an amazing teacher.” The Royalettes placed for the first time last year, earning a third place trophy in the kick line category.

“That’s my best memory of dance team,” Harris said. “I felt ecstatic and accomplished when we won.”

Harris is also passionate about literature, all because of her sophomore and junior English teacher, Karen Rhodes. She plans on attending Spelman College, located in Atlanta, Georgia. She wants to major in psychology and eventually become a social worker.

But she’ll “always be a dancer.”

 Akeylah Cooper by Lindsay Pugh

Senior Akeylah Cooper

When she joined the Royalettes dance team this year, Senior Akeylah Cooper had her biggest challenge in trying to get to know her teammates.

“It’s important to have strong relationships with them,” she says. “They [need to] know they can come to you.”

Cooper danced when she was little, but stopped. Her passion was reawakened in her freshman year, when she enrolled in a dance class held at her old high school.

Currently, she’s dancing with the Royalettes every football game. Learning two dances per week used to be difficult for Cooper, but she’s adapted quickly.  Now the team is preparing for the Manchester Lancer Dancer Invitational dance competition. Cooper says she thinks the team has a  very good chance of placing.

“We’ve gotten so much better, it’s unbelievable.”

Cooper also enjoys her job as a guidance aid, assisting the guidance department.

“I love the [working] environment,” Cooper said.

Cooper plans on attending VCU and earning a degree in neonatal nursing. Cooper intends to incorporate dance into her future. After she graduates, she plans to take two dance classes during college and dance on her college’s dance team if they have one.  Then she’ll step out of her dance shoes and into her scrubs.

Becca Soon by: Blier Smith

Senior Royalette Becca Soon lives through her emotions. That is why dance team appealed so much to her over the past year and a half.
Senior Becca Soon
With no further dance training besides a short stint in her preschool days, Soon, surprises her viewers with natural ability. “I began with gymnastics which is also a body sport,” said Soon, “and in my senior year I felt like I needed to do dance.”Soon, like many others, admired the work of dancers on television and internet videos, but unlike most, Soon decided to act on her admiration. She was particularly fond of Rhianna and the dancing of Chris Brown.Soon, as well as many other students have a lot of stress from schooling, extracurriculars, and others. “I use dance as a way to express myself, and as my outlet,” Soon said.This classmate has dance practice every day during the week. This would cause, undoubtedly, not only physical stress but mental tiredness as well.“Sometimes I just want to jump up and dance in the morning, but after a week of dance after dance, you get pretty tired,” Soon said.While she does love dance, and describes dancing as one of her passions, Soon also says dance has taken time away from the other things she loves.

“I don’t get much social time during the week,” Soon said.  “I only get to see my family at nights.”

Soon has been an athlete her entire life, and the newfound dancer says she has natural dancing ability because of her past as a gymnast.

After having one routine pounded into her head again and again, she feels confident about the show.

“I don’t worry about messing up, I just want the audience to enjoy my performance,” Soon said.

This is high school, drama is inevitable, but once you arrive at the studio it must be left at the door. “You have to act like it didn’t happen for an hour,” Soon said. “Each person has a certain role, and one emotional mistake can ruin the routine.”

This is no challenge, the teammates spend so much time together that they have become close enough to clear arguments quickly. There are no secrets kept.

Soon is relatively new to dancing, only a year and a half in the business, and already has a flood of new knowledge from her coach, Stephanie Poe.

“The best advice I’ve been given is to, ‘dance because you want to, not because you have to,’” Soon said.


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