For the last decade, the Long Island Lutheran High School dance team has performed solely at school-based sporting events and annual pep rallies, keeping out of the competition spotlight.
But on Sunday, 21 spirited students strutted their stuff front of a group of judges for team's debut performance at the Long Island Kickline Association varsity competition.
“We’re a relatively newer team, compared to some of the other high school teams that compete here,” said Lutheran coach Jean Benincasa. “It took us some time to really grow and assemble a team that could put in the time and enthusiasm needed to attend something like this.”
Their efforts did not go unrewarded. The group took home third place in the hip-hop for high schools class – the only class the team performed in. Kellenberg High School placed first.
“We wanted to start out small, to get our feet wet,” said Benincasa on why they opted not to perform in the pom, kickline, dance or squad divisions, which are also offered in the annual competition. “But now, since we’ve won, we’ll definitely look to expand in the future.”
The students are the primary choreographers, said Lutheran coach Melissa Essigman.
“It’s really their show,” Essigman said. “When it came to this, we encouraged them to step outside of their boundaries and take a risk. You can’t grow unless you step into the unknown sometimes.”
Lutheran High School plans on attending the third and final Long Island Kickline Association competition of the season on Jan. 25.
“When you go into something like this for the first time, you don’t really know what to expect,” team captain Kayla Knight, a senior, said. “Now that we know and we get our feedback from the judges, we can work on what we need to for the next time.”