Ely dancers take third at debut meet
by Tom Coombe
It was a history-making weekend, and a sneak preview of what may be to come for Ely’s high school dance team.
For the first time in decades, the dance team took part in a competitive meet, placing third in the high-kick competition at a Jan. 28 event at Monticello.
The dance team, with no participant older than ninth grade, took some baby steps this year toward becoming a full-fledged competitive team.
While the Timberwolves won’t take part in a section meet this season, that seems likely during the 2023-24 campaign.
Last year, Ely school officials approved sanctioning the dance program, which for years was a “performance only” team, as one that would compete against other schools under the umbrella of the Minnesota State High School League.
The meet at Monticello was the only event for the Ely team this year, and it was an eye-opening experience for both the team and head coach Desirae Cram.
“I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect,” said Cram. “The whole experience was brand-new for all of them.”
The team also was thrown another obstacle just days before the event, when dancer Madison Jonas suffered a broken toe at practice.
Jonas was out of the lineup, and Cram said “we had to redo all of the formations on Saturday morning. I wasn’t sure if that would throw off the girls and affect the routine and their performance.”
After a tune-up in the jazz division in the meet, the girls moved into the high-kick.
“I think they were able to get some nerves out in the jazz performance and they really killed it in the high kick,” said Cram. “They were so excited.”
Ely was third among six teams in the division, placing behind only Twin Cities private school Providence Academy and Aitkin.
The team was led in the event by ninth-grade captain Ella Perish.
She was joined on the floor by two other ninth-graders - Sabrah Hart and Isabelle Chick.
Jonas and Judy Roarty are both in eighth grade, while the team also includes seventh-graders Brooklyn Sherman, Isabelle Ebert and Kylie Zobitz. The team manager is senior Maggie Dammann.
“All of these girls except for Ella, Izzy, Sabrah and Madison, the other five are all brand new to our team,” said Cram. “That was another exciting thing. Half of the team is new to us.”
The dancers have been practicing since November and have performed their routines at a handful of basketball games this winter.
More performances are in the works, and the team will hold its annual season-ending show Feb. 26 at the high school gymnasium, with a dance clinic for potential new team members taking place in the spring.
A more complete season, with additional regular season events and the section meet, is in store next year.
“We had a lot of parent support there and that helped boost our confidence,” said Cram. “The moms that were there loved it. It was such a great competition and great experience for everybody, as far as traveling and competing and getting to meet the other teams there. We’re definitely going to be scheduling out more competitions next year so we can be all in and able to qualify for sections. We’ll see where it goes from there.”