Tomahawk Creek Middle dance team debuts
“It gives everyone a chance to meet new friends so you have an opportunity to be involved in something fun,” said Elizabeth Ferguson, a sixth-grader on the team.
The 21-girl dance team was started by Ferguson’s mom, Stacy Daneker, at the beginning of the school year. While some middle schools have step teams (which use a mix of footsteps, hand claps and spoken word to produce rhythms and sounds), Tomahawk Creek’s dance team performs to jazz and hip-hop music.
“Chesterfield has such a big dance base of students. There are so many large studios and so many people dance that I thought it would be a great opportunity for girls,” said Daneker, who serves as the dance team coach and is also a nurse at the school.
Daneker is no stranger to dancing. She’s been dancing since she was a child and still attends The Richmond Dance Center in the West End with her daughter. Although Daneker has been a cheerleading coach, this is her first time coaching a dance team.
“I wasn’t nervous but I knew it would be a challenge because it was something new,” Daneker said.
The dance team girls already appear to have made an impression on not only their peers, but the faculty at Tomahawk Creek.
“If you could see the girls dance, you wouldn’t know this was their first year,” said office manager Barbara Marable, who helped with the tryout process.
Although Ferguson was nervous about performing in front of her peers for the first time, she said the dance team quickly proved how good it was. This fall, the team performed at basketball games, the school talent show and did a dance showcase at the Bellgrade Cheering Competition.
“I think [the audience] thought ‘Wow, that was a lot better than I thought it would be,’” Ferguson said of the team’s first performance. The dance team’s signature move was a high kick-line paired with a mix of classic and modern songs which included Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” Kesha’s “Blow” and Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.” The latter ended up being a favorite of the girls on the dance team.
“When [the girls] first heard ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ they weren’t sure how the dance would play out,” Daneker said. “It was one of those dances that had modern versus classical jazz moves and once they put it all together it ended up being the favorite out of the three.”
The dancers also learned to share the spotlight with the Tomahawk Creek Middle School cheerleaders, who also performed at halftime during the basketball games.
“It was awesome. We made it work,” said cheerleading coach Ginny Joyner. “Both dance teams and cheerleaders supported each other.”
Tomahawk Creek Middle School Principal David Ellena said the school encourages extracurricular activities like dance because research shows that students perform better in school when they have a connection to it.
“We want to teach them the really good fundamentals of not only the sport but the intangibles – the hard work, the contribution, the teamwork,” Ellena said.
Ellena said that out of the 1,220 students at Tomahawk Creek, a majority are involved in an extracurricular activity which can range from soccer to the technology club. Marable, the office manager, said that being part of such activities can help build a student’s self-esteem.