In the gym at Park Side School, the Marshall Tiger varsity dance team members got into position, waiting to hear the opening strains of a song from the "Grease" medley mix.
The team suddenly leaped into action, hitting all aspects of the kick routine.
Right next door in Park Side's cafeteria, the junior varsity dance team is working on moves to a song called "Fancy Footwork."
Photo by Cindy Votruba
Marshall Tiger dance team head coach Amber Jans talks with the varsity team before members started practicing their kick routine to music from “Grease.” Jans is the new head coach this season. Last year, the team placed first in jazz and kick at sectionals and placed seventh in kick and eighth in jazz at state competition.
This year, the varsity team got a new head coach, Amber Jans, who comes to Marshall from Prior Lake where she was the head coach of the junior varsity team and the assistant for the varsity team.
Jans is a stay-at-home mom of two sons, ages 5 and 2, and her husband, Jeremiah, works at Wells Fargo.
"A head coach experience is something I've always wanted to do; the girls have been really welcoming," Jans said. She said it's also been an adjustment for everyone. "The season is kicking off to a good start."
Jans said she's been focusing on endurance this season.
"Basically, you have to keep your endurance up, (have) confidence, smile and be sharp," Jans said.
The captains for the varsity dance team this season are Josie Nelson, Hannah Pfeiffer, Taryn Rathman and Shelbie Thomsen. The rest of the coaching staff includes Emily Peters as the assistant varsity coach and Emily Snyder and Lindsey Larson as the junior varsity coaches.
Snyder said her and Larson's job is to work themselves out of a job.
"Our overall goal is just get everybody ready for varsity," Snyder said.
"To get them off of our team onto theirs," Larson said.
As the team looks forward to a new year and a new routine, Nelson said this season feels more intense.
"We're putting all of our big guns out right away, which we've needed for a while," Rathman added.
Working together as a team is an important factor, the varsity captains said.
"At this point, we've bonded well," Nelson said.
Rathman said the team's become close and had to rely on each other.
"We're really dedicated, we're really pushing ourselves," Rathman said.
"We have the drive this year," Nelson added.
The varsity kick team is doing its routine to '50s tunes and music from "Grease."
"We watched the movie to get ideas from it," Thomsen said about the varsity kick routine.
"It's a really exciting dance," Nelson said. "It's not just the typical kick routine. It's more upbeat."
The varsity jazz team is doing its routine to "Diamonds."
"It's more of a sassy routine," Pfeiffer said.
One of the main songs in the jazz routine is Marilyn Monroe's "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend."
The jazz routine has attitude, Nelson said.
"I think it fits all of our team," Nelson said. "A lot of them are bold and have sassiness."
Last year, the varsity team took first place in jazz and kick in sections. This season, they're aiming to do better, especially at state. It's just given the team that competitive drive this year, Nelson said.
"We got a taste of what it's like, so we want more," Rathman said.
"Our dances really show our team's strengths," Rathman said.
"We're excited to see where it (the season) brings us," Pfeiffer said.
"I think these dancers have a lot of potential to bring success to the team this year," Nelson said.
As for the junior varsity team, the jazz team is dancing to a "Survivor"-themed medley, which includes "I'm A Survivor" and "I Will Survive." The kick team is doing "Fancy Footwork."
"The songs are about a guy who is too shy to ask a girl to dance, it's just a fun song for them to dance to," Snyder said about the JV kick routine. "It gives them an opportunity to learn a lot of new skills they didn't know they had."
Snyder said it's amazing for her to watch the JV team at the beginning of the season and seeing how much it progresses by the end.
"These girls work so hard," Snyder said.