The Mark Keppel Dance Company competed at the 51st annual U.S. Nationals, hosted by Miss Dance Drill Team USA (MDDTUSA). The competition was held at Irvine, California from April 5 to 7. Dance Team placed first in Small Military and Medium Female Hip Hop, and second in Kick. Dance Team’s first place win in Medium Female Hip Hop is the first in Keppel history. All Male placed second in both Large Male Hip Hop and Small Male Hip Hop. Junior Paul Im got second place on his 10th/11th grade Hip Hop solo performance; junior Kristie Quan third on her 11th grade Jazz solo; and senior Oliver Coronel fifth on his 12th grade Male Hip Hop solo.
Both teams have been training for competition season for months. Preparation not only allowed them to place this past weekend, but helped strengthen team bonds. Dance Team captain Kathryn Gee says, “We’ve been working for competition since the end of June, so it’s pretty natural that we all work together and get along with each other. We force each other to [work together] and we all have to look for each other’s’ weaknesses and strengths.”
Although Gee felt pressure as the only four-year member on the team, her experience on Dance Team allowed her to lead the team to victory. “Before performances, I actually get excited. I’m just really excited to go out there and put on my best show. I’m really excited for the other girls to experience [this] competition,” Gee states.
Despite not being able to defend some of their national titles, director Mr. Arroyo is proud of the performances both teams put up. “I thought Dance Team and All Male nailed every routine they performed in. I’m extremely happy with the performances that they gave. Since we didn’t win this year, we know that we need to work even harder to get that title back at Keppel,” Mr. Arroyo says. All Male was previously named National Champions in 2017, and had won first in Large Male Hip Hop for two consecutive years. “They did their job and as a director, I can’t ask for anything more.”