Dance team: Lakers ring in the new season with impressive showings at home
The Laker Dance team hosted two home invites this week at Lakeshirts Fieldhouse. After last year's run to the state meet in jazz, the Lakers are eyeing more big things in 2022-23. Read more about the Laker Dance teams routines, performances and takaways below.
DETROIT LAKES – The Laker Dance team packed Lakeshirts Fieldhouse for its annual invitational on Saturday.
It was the second of two home invites this week for Detroit Lakes. On Thursday, the Lakers hosted the three other Mid-State Conference teams to open the season, kicking off another year with high expectations.
"Right when we get on the floor, it's just so much different from practice," senior Brenna Skadsem said. "Even when we're walking out, everyone is cheering. It fills you with adrenaline. Everything is so much better when you're dancing with a crowd. It was a lot of fun."
The jazz team made it to state for the first time in 12 seasons last February with a third-place finish at the Section 4-2A championships. Saturday was a good litmus test against other contending section opponents.
"This was a big day for us," Detroit Lakes head coach Britton Ramsey said. "We knew we were neck-and-neck with Rocori. We saw the scores from last week, and it was a one-point difference from what we got on Thursday. We knew it was going to be close today. I think it's a huge confidence boost for our kids to know that we can get out in front of Rocori early in the season. Sauk is really talented. They have three times as many girls as we do. They're super big and talented, and we know that's the No. 1 spot. To know what we're chasing all year is great. I'm really pleased with where you're at."
The Lakers finished second in the Class AA/AAA standings, beating the Spartans by a narrow margin. Both teams trailed Sauk Rapids-Rice, who unanimously won first place.
A year ago, Detroit Lakes performed an inspired routine emphasizing mental health awareness. This year, Tom Walker's "Leave the Light On" is the tune of the winter.
"For us, it's going to come down to execution in jazz," Ramsey said. "We choreographed a really hard routine. We knew it was going to be hard and that we weren't going to be able to execute it until January. It's hard, and we can't quite do it yet. If we can execute it a month from now, we'll be right where we need to be."
"I was struggling to find music they liked. The upperclassmen said, 'What do you think about this?' I liked it, but I didn't love it. We ended up having our music person lift a drum beat off the original version and layer it on top of an acoustic version. It's super unique, and I like the way it turned out. It's all about finding something we like that matches the vibe of what we want to do."
The Lakers went in a different direction with their high-kick routine this season. Last year, Aerosmith's "Dream On" took an alternative approach to a typically nuanced performance. After some deliberation, Ramsey went with a compilation from a mid-2000s classic pop star.
"Most of the kids haven't done kick before," Ramsey said. "We are really close to the minimum amount of kicks we need because we didn't want to push it. We want to use the girls' strengths. They're really good at jazz and hip hop, and we wanted to bring those elements into it. I had eight cuts of music, and nobody liked any of them. I said, 'What if we just picked Fergie or something?' They all freaked out. That's where we ended up, and it's great. We're rolling with Fergie this year. Our whole thing today was for them to just have fun doing it, and they did."
Detroit Lakes took fourth place in the Class AA/AAA standings behind Sauk Rapids-Rice, Rocori and Bemidji. Skadsem raved about her experience during the high kick routine.
"It's definitely more of an upbeat song this year, she said. "Dancing to Fergie is way easier. It gives us a ton of energy, and I think we're all pushing to be better."
Two days earlier, the Laker dance team took first in jazz and third in the high kick competitions. The Lakers have been hamstrung with illness to start the season, meaning the first week of competition was all about finding a rhythm.
"We had a short practice on Friday in between," Ramsey said. "Everything we asked them to tweak or fix, they did it. I'm super proud of them today. Of course, we made some mistakes today, but it's early in the season. All of the teams made mistakes today. We kind of got a late start. We didn't have a full team practice until last week. We've had kids out sick all year, so I feel like we're a little behind the eight ball. I'm not worried about any mistakes we made today or Thursday."
Skadsem and Amaya LeCleir were picked to be the captains of the 2022-23 season. Paired with their experience of going to state last year, the two seniors aim to bring their teammates closer together.
"Amaya and I don't like to think of ourselves as better than anyone else because we're captains," Skadsem said. "We're there if anyone needs anything or any extra support. It's super fun to be that person for this team because we love all these girls so much … I feel like we're so much more connected this year. We've done a lot more team bonding at practices, and that helps us on the floor because we can feel like we're connected in our routine."
One of the Laker Dance Teams' biggest hurdles is replacing the senior leadership of last year. Skadsem and LeCleir were the obvious choices to help usher in a new wave of Laker dancers.
"Our captains are the glue that holds this team together," Ramsey said. "They have all the respect of our younger kids. I think the seventh graders really look up to them, and they're not even on the same team. They're so kind to them. They go out of their way to talk to the younger kids and make them feel part of the team. They're great leaders because they lead by example. They're hard workers and super positive. I love them with my whole heart."
LAKER DANCE INVITE CLASS AA/AAA HIGH KICK SCORES- 1- Sauk Rapids-Rice 3, 2- Rocori 6, 3- Bemidji 11, 4- Detroit Lakes 12, 5- Moorhead 14, 6- Rock Ridge 18
LAKER DANCE INVITE CLASS AA/AAA JAZZ SCORES- 1- Sauk Rapids-Rice 3, 2- Detroit Lakes 7, 3- Rocori 8, 4- Bemidji 12.5, 5- Moorhead 14.5, 6- Rock Ridge 8
MID-STATE HOME MEET HIGH KICK SCORES- 1- Crosby-Ironton 3, 2- Pequot Lakes 6, 3- Detroit Lakes 9, 4- Aitkin 12
MID-STATE HOME MEET JAZZ SCORES- 1- Detroit Lakes 3, 2- Crosby-Ironton 6, 3- Pequot Lakes 9, 4- Aitkin 12