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TD Dance squad opens some eyes

DANCE TEAM members representing The Dalles High School take time out from celebrating for a group shot. This past weekend at the Thunderbird Recital at Chiles Center in Portland, several members chalked up awards, and Alejandra Pena earned the distinction of being named Miss Thunderbird. With a new school mascot to start the 2014-2015 season, these dancers will be yelling and screaming for their team through fall, winter and spring, The Riverhawks.

DANCE TEAM members representing The Dalles High School take time out from celebrating for a group shot. This past weekend at the Thunderbird Recital at Chiles Center in Portland, several members chalked up awards, and Alejandra Pena earned the distinction of being named Miss Thunderbird. With a new school mascot to start the 2014-2015 season, these dancers will be yelling and screaming for their team through fall, winter and spring, The Riverhawks. Kristi Maley/Contributed photo

Following an afternoon of dance performances that took place in the Chiles Center arena at the University of Portland, the loud speaker boomed, “Miss Thunderbird for 2014 goes to a dancer from The Dalles Wahtonka.”

About 400 dancers from high school teams from Oregon, Washington and Alaska applauded Alejandra Peña, who was named to be one of the camp’s best dancers, as she walked to the stage.

It can be hard to make a name for yourself.

The Dalles/The Dalles Wahtonka High School cheerleading team made a name for itself after winning the state championship for 11 consecutive years and as of 2009, the team shifted to make a new name in OSAA competitive dance.

Many high school dance teams begin their season in the summer at Thunderbird Dance Camp and use the days to improve technique, learn choreography, build showmanship, and bond as teammates.

Each dancer learns three routines in the styles of either hip-hop, contemporary, funk or jazz at and performs the final two days. Awards are given throughout the four days.

Trophies for The Dalles dance team were awarded to top performers, Tianna Smith, Keagan Rice, Peyton Wojtecki, Glenda Stewart, Alexis Pastor, and Madison Richardson.

Two trophies were awarded to both Ally Gibbons and Lauren Despain, who also placed top three in drill down. Trophies and the highly prestigious award of making the All-Star team were given to seniors Alejandra Peña and Sydney Langer and junior Taylor Sugg.

Finally, the highest honor of Miss Thunderbird was awarded to Peña.

The awards reflected the team’s talent and the attitudes displayed throughout camp showed the team’s well roundedness.

Team co-captain and incoming senior, Alissa Pastor said, “We want other dancers and coaches to describe our team as selfless, approachable and respectful.”

With a new school name and mascot, this team has the challenge of establishing the reputation of its name.

Soon, with a year ahead of performances and dance competitions, the announcer over the loud speaker might be calling awards, with the correct name, for The Dalles dance team.

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