Okay, this isn’t that bad, I can do this. I’ve been working hard, I can do this.
Incoming freshman Alex Muehlberger entered the gym.
Why the heck am I doing this? These girls have like 100 times the experience I do. I am so stupid for coming.
Muehlberger had been practicing for a month, in a garage.
There’s no way I am going to remember everything. I have never learned something like this.
Muehlberger, surrounded by 21 competitors, began warming up for the STA dance team tryouts that put sister against sister, friend versus friend, and pitted incoming freshman against juniors.
“[Tryouts] are my absolute favorite time of year,” head coach Savannah Vose said.
Right before the start of tryouts, four different grade levels squeezed into a circle, making room for one more, joined hands, asked “Mary, queen of dance” to pray for them, and became somewhat ready for the process to begin. The girls were vying for a place on a team, with no set number of spots, according to Vose. Different parts made the dancers uneasy. Learning a routine in two days. The kick-line in the middle of the dance. How to hold arms when turning. A talented group of incoming freshman.
Nervousness peaked at varying stages in the process for everyone, but encouragement was ever-present. Junior Meghan Coble and incoming freshman Alison Yancey reassured each other. Incoming freshmen told each other how awesome they would do.
“You are all beautiful dancers,” junior Caroline Fiss said to the jittery girls before tryouts.
At state this year, the team “aura-cleansed” to get ride of bad energy. Fiss, a varsity dancer this past year, stretched her arms in front of Muehlberger, telling her she was fine. They took deep breaths together. Pretending to struggle, Fiss slowly pushed her arms down the front of Muehlberger’s body.
“As her hands went down me, my nerves were gone,” Muehlberger said. “I kind of calmed down actually.”
Competitors, yes, sworn enemies, no. The seniors helping with tryouts were like parents, offering advice and tips to the younger dancers. Sophomore Katherine Viviano gladly sprayed back freshman Meghan Daniels fly-aways. Freshman Alex Amey started going over nicknames with incoming freshmen.
When the hopefuls went out in pairs to perform technique and the routine, their old friends and newly made ones sent them out with hugs. The dancers, clad in black leotards and spandex, filled the time in the crowded locker room with stretching, practicing to music being played through a closed door, sharing stories, comforting each other, laughing and texting. They had to wait hours for the judges to see the 11 pairs.
“It was like waiting to see if a family member had died or not,” Muehlberger said.
No parties. No date night. No going out with the girls. The dancers chose to spend their Friday night at tryouts. The girls functioned as a unit. The family eventually found out they lost three members the next Saturday morning, but that did not take away from what they experienced together. It did not crush their hopes.I thought I had a shot. Yeah, I could not get my splits all the way down and I don’t even know what happened to my kick-line, but I thought I could have made it.
Muehlberger was told she had been cut.
Well, It was just tryouts. It’s not the end of the world. At least now I know I love to dance. And, I know these girls now, they welcomed me
She did not regret trying out, or all the work it took.
This is not the end for my dancing career. There’s no quitting now.