Mt. Carmels’s Dance Troupe (MCDT) can be depended on to bring heat, energy, and passion to any performance, whether on the stage, basketball court, or under the Friday Night Lights. In their 2016-2017 season, MCDT has brought back numerous titles from dance competitions leading up to Nationals.
The road to Nationals brought along its fair share of late night rehearsals and dedication to perfecting every step. During competition season, the troupe had to take judges’ criticism into consideration to move forward.
Sierra Erdem (11) has been on the troupe since her freshman year at Mt. Carmel. Looking back on this past season, Erdem notes that the best dances were ones that underwent the most change during season.
“My favorite dance of this year would be our hip hop competition dance because we started this year, brought in a choreographer, and it [the dance[ actually did pretty bad in our first competitions,” Erdem said. “The judges basically told us we had to change everything.”
The harsh criticism came as a disappointment to the dancers, as many rehearsal hours had been put into mastering the choreography to make it appear effortless. To be competition-ready, the dance had to be reworked.
“Our captains went through and changed positions and steps and really took a step back to listen to different parts of the song– parts that I hadn’t heard before,” Erdem said.
The same dance that started the season off on the wrong foot ended up winning the small hip hop category in the open division at both the USA and WCE Nationals after being re-worked to perfection.
Individually, several members of the dance troupe improved over the season and performed well enough at Nationals to bring home titles. Rachel Banks (12) competed a contemporary piece over the course of the season and placed fifth at WCE Nationals.
“I had done well at WCE, so it wasn’t too much of a shock, but it was surprising at US because no dancer in MC history has made it to solo finals. Never in my life would I think I would have done that well,” Banks said.
Banks believes that her dance was successful because of her emotional connection to it.
“The piece is about loving your body and not being insecure, and that is a subject that’s really close to me, so it was cool to do well with such a close piece,” Banks said.
Emotions alone did not win her the title, as she had to dedicate time at school and at her dance studio to refining her technique and artistry.
“I’d stay after some practices for an hour to two hours to work on it. And outside of the choreography I’d have to work on my technique, so each week I’d spend about 10-15 hours on mastering it, both in the studio and out of it, I’d have a key to the studio,” Banks said.
This extra time spent on just one dance is not unknown to the rest of the team, as dance troupe takes commitment.
“People don’t know how much time and effort we put into our dances. It’s not just the three hours of practice once a week,” Banks said.
Banks will continue her dancing career at Boise State University as a member of the Maneline Dancers.
“It sucks to leave, but I’ve learned a lot about myself as a dancer and as a person. I became very mature because of the dance world and things I’ve had to deal with, but I’ve also made lasting friendships with the other girls,” Banks said. “They’re not just friends, they’re sisters.”