It was a long weekend in Orlando for SM East’s Lancer Dancers — and worth every bit of the hard work.
The school’s varsity drill team walked away from the National Dance Alliance School National Championships with a second place trophy in the Large Varsity Jazz category, finishing less than a tenth of a point behind the champion Lake Central Centralletes of St. John, Indiana.
Coach Alexis Bugler categorized the team’s jazz performance this year as “a bit darker than what we usually do.”
Set to a cover of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun,” the routine was slower than the jazz category routines they team had tackled in the past.
“The story we’re trying to tell is about brining awareness to mental illness,” she said. “Everyone has their own inner demons.”
In addition to the overall award in the jazz category, SM East received special recognition with a Superior Showmanship award and the NDA Unleashed award. SM East won the jazz category at the competition, which features some of the top high school dance teams from across the country, in 2013.
The Lancer Dancers also advanced to the finals in the Hip Hop category, where their astronaut-inspired costumes and routine earned them sixth place overall.
To advance to the finals, the team had to finish among the top performers in the preliminaries Saturday, including one early morning performance that had some team members rising at 4 a.m. to start hair and makeup.
The Lancers weren’t the only Johnson County squad represented in the final jazz standings. Olathe Northwest and Olathe North made it into the finals as well, and finished third and fourth, respectively.