Pekin Dance Team high-kicks off new year

The Pekin Dance Team perform for the first time this year during halftime of the boys basketball game vs Highland on Tuesday, Dec. 12

            The Pekin Dance Team returned to the floor last year after five years, with this season truly kicking off the program’s revival during halftime of the boys basketball game on Tuesday, Dec. 12.

            “This is our more experienced year with the team,” Coach Annie Ehlts said. “Last year was more of a trial run, to see what to expect. “This year, we came in with more experience, excitement and more students involved.”

            Consisting of 10 girls and one guy, the program’s return initially sparked 40-50 student tryouts this year, with coaches Ehlts and Kelly Goudy having to whittle down the numbers to create the desired team balance.

            “We had a bunch of students ask us to bring this back and start up a dance team,” Goudy said. “The kids are really pumped up about it, and the other students are anxious to watch them perform. There’s been a lot of chatter about it in the hallways for the excitement it brings that we haven’t had in a while.”

            These students are active in a wide variety of different activities, including cross country, softball, drama, and even several members on the basketball team, which had just been duking it out on the court 30 minutes before glamming up and hitting the floor once again. For the very first performance of the school year, the team performed a short, well-rehearsed kickline dance as friends and family cheered on enthusiastically. Several spectators wore Pekin Dance Team t-shirts with their favorite dancer on the back in support of the group.

            “This team is special because I know everyone on the team and am close to them,” Faith Goudy, a sophomore on the team said. “We’re a bright young group of girls, and one gentleman.”

            Faith, the daughter of Coach Goudy, had previously taken dance lessons growing up, falling in love with the dress-up involved and being able to perform in front of others. She joined her teammates this past summer at a dance camp at Central College, where they learned new techniques and that they still had quite a ways to go.

            “We weren’t that experienced with dance yet, and then we saw all these other schools knew what they were doing,” Faith said. “We learned we need to improve and find more opportunities to dance, and hopefully we can go to State one day.”

            They continued to practice over the course of the school year, especially this past month on Monday and Thursday afternoons. From there, Pekin Dance Team strived to take what they accomplished at camp to carry over to their performances.

            “From the camp, we really came back with good technique to include in our dances and they had good mixtures of music to give us an idea of what we types of music we need,” Ehlts said. “As a team, it brought us closer together. We still laugh about some experiences to this day.”

            While the routines and the outfits attract the likes of Faith and her other teammates, one particular member simply wanted to try on a new hat; the lone male member, Isaiah Wittrock.

            “I did it for the girls,” Wittrock said. “It gives me an activity outside of athletics to throw into the mix.”

            Amused by her student’s response, Goudy is also quick to point out the senior, normally a cross country and track runner, brings a lot to the table for the dance team.

            “Isaiah is very talented, very athletic and trying to experience everything high school has to offer,” Goudy said.

            The Pekin Dance Team are scheduled to perform at two more boys basketball games this year on January 12 and February. They will perform a hip-hop routine at the former and are currently deciding on a style for the latter date. The team is also working on hosting a semi-formal dance next month as a fundraiser for the future of the team.

            “We have a lot of interested kids, so I’d like to see this continue and eventually compete at the state level,” Goudy said.