The journey to Nationals


Photo by Luke Borgmann

The Apollonaires performing their halftime routine at a football game this year.

Lincoln East’s dance team, the Apollonaires, made the trip to Orlando Florida for the UDA National Dance Competition for their second year as a team and in East High School’s history. The mighty team of twenty-one spent months in preparation in order to take their two dances to the stage and compete against hundreds of teams across the nation. 

With choreography from Eddie Strachan for their jazz routine, Julie and Kristen Johnson for Hip Hop, the Naires began choreography in October and perfected their moves while practicing almost daily in preparation for their departure in February. Senior captain, Lila Swope, shares her experience during her final journey to nationals with her team, along with two fellow senior captains, Riley Struve and Sydney Fitzgerald. Swope says, “As a team in general, we all had a really good mindset going into it. We worked hard and used our practice time wisely and most efficiently as possible.” Swope continues to say, “We were all very in it and wanted to do well.” The Apollonaire’s positive mindset and attitude going into the competition was what kept them together in the midst of pressure. 

The Naire’s competed in the Jazz and Hip Hop division. The competitive team ended up making it to finals in the Jazz competition, finishing top ten in the nation. “There were so many good teams in our division,” says Swope as she describes the competition that the teams the Naires faced brought to the stage. 

Nationals in Orlando is a memorable experience for the entire team: the newbies, the upperclassmen, the coach, and the Naire parents (or Nair-ents as the dancers call them). When the team wasn’t working hard on preparing their routines for their performances, they spent time on the beaches of Florida and adventuring through Walt Disney World. Team bonding is something that is very important to this team, and when in Orlando, the girls did just that. 

The big journey to nationals was bittersweet for some of the dancers, as the seniors embarked on one of their last big performances as an Apollonaire. What Swope enjoyed the most of one of her last experiences being with her team, was “making memories with the team and just being there,” she says. “We’re all so tight-knit and such good friends, it’s so cool to just be living together for a whole week and so far away from home.”

Next year, the Apollonaires plan on taking UDA Nationals again as a team and are excited and eager to put what they’ve worked on onto the mat. Swope, along with other seniors and Apollonaire alumni are excited to see what next year’s team will bring to the stage.