Girls Team of the Year: Paly Dance

As the National Champions, the Paly Dance team inarguably had one of the most successful seasons in program history.


Tyler Martin and Takumi Weimann

The crowd cheers wildly as the Paly dance team takes the field during halftime of the football game, where they deliver high-level dances with outstanding chemistry and choreography. As the dancers strike their final pose, the crowd roars in applause, appreciating the thrilling performance. Many Paly students have seen the dance team give amazing performances during halftime of football and basketball games. But what many fail to recognize is what the Paly dance team does outside of these performances, and the incredible accomplishments achieved throughout their intense season. 

The dance season is different from the typical high school sports season, as it spans the majority of the school year. The season kicks off in August with the team mainly focusing on performances at sporting events or school rallies. Senior captain Theresa Hart further explains the process of the season.

“We basically just work on half-time [performances] up until they end, which is basketball season,” Hart said.

One of the most memorable of these school-based performances was the halftime performance at the homecoming football game. Junior dancer Rachel Ho recalls the game.

“I think [a] memorable moment was our homecoming halftime, which was so amazing and it was great to see everyone at school have such a supportive response,” she said.

Despite the main focus during this time being these performances, there are still competitions that need intensive preparation.

“While we are doing [halftime dances,] we learn our competition dances in August and work on those throughout the whole year,” Hart said.

What makes dance different from the game-based aspect of other sports is that it is focused on performance. This type of sport requires a strong amount of concentration and mental toughness that does not always appear in other sports.

“[In dance] you have exactly 2-3 minutes to show what you have and if you mess up, you don’t have time to change that, it has already been done,” Hart said.

Another thing that makes dance stand out from other sports is the heavy reliance on team chemistry and bonding. Not only do you have to memorize the dance and execute it perfectly, but you also have to be completely in sync with the other dancers. This is only possible through strong chemistry and environment.

“Performing with the team is always super fun and I think that while we had a lot of competitive success, there was a really great balance of creating a positive and supportive team atmosphere which made the time fly by,” Ho said.

The team builds their chemistry through rigorous and intensive practice sessions throughout the week. The dancers improve their individual skills all while developing a team connection. Consistently practicing for extensive hours has been the key to success for the team.

 “We have practice four to five times a week for two hours after school,” Ho said. “We sometimes have practices from two to four hours on weekends as well.”

While the lengthy practices can seem like a lot for the average onlooker, they offer a way for the dancers to connect with each other.

“There [is] a really great balance of creating a positive and supportive team atmosphere which made the time fly by,” Ho said.

After the basketball or “half-time” season ends, the team shifts its focus to preparing for local competitions. This portion of the season includes five regional competitions where they compete against other schools from the area.

The team proved strong throughout the regional competitions, allowing them to qualify for Nationals, the most prestigious event where teams from across the country compete for the award of best in the nation. 

In preparation for such a massive event, Paly dance put in hours every day at practice, perfecting their routines.

“We prepared [for Nationals] by running through every single count of each dance making sure everyone knew exactly what to do and we took our past competition feedback and applied it,” Hart said.

This vigorous preparation proved effective, as the Paly dance team would go on to win first place in the Small Hip Hop category, along with a fourth-place finish in Character.

“I think [Nationals] was probably the best the team has danced together this entire year,” Hart said.

Overall, the Paly Dance team had an incredible season, from electrifying halftime performances, to regional competitions, to winning Nationals. The team hopes to continue its recent success heading into next season.



Honorable Mention: Girls Cross Country:

Another Paly team that had a particularly memorable year was the girls cross country team. The team surpassed expectations set for them this year with finishes near the top at nearly all of the team meets during the season, despite tough competition. The team’s successful season was capped off with a fourth-place finish at states, which took place in Fresno. Paly runners Elizabeth Fetter (’23), Hillary Studdert (’23), and Kinga Czajkowska (’25) all placed in the top seven at states. 

The team overall had a successful season, placing highly in nearly all of the meets throughout the season. They had a dominant performance in the city championships against Gunn, with Paly runners sweeping the podium in positions one through five. The girls also placed in the top three in each of the three SCVAL meets throughout the year.

Despite the individual aspect of cross country, the team has an exceptionally tight bond which contributed to their success as a whole. 

The conclusion to a memorable and successful season indicates a bright future for the girls cross country this upcoming fall.

Check out these photos of the cross-country team in action!