Dancing Machines

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The Camas High School Papershakers are headed to the state dance and drill competition March 24, at the Yakima Sun Dome. Members are Charis Holscher, Autumn Wood, Natsuki Ohyama, Natalia Rescende, Jocelyn Muri, Rachel Stanger, Jessie Miller, Camille Ritter, Leila Villasenor, Grace Giordano, Christina McCoy, Charlee Kabel, Chesley Truitt, Rachel Goodwin, Honor Stevenson, Brianna Ranck and Vilde Nordrum.

The Papershakers got their swagger back in 2012.

On March 24, the 17 Camas High School dancers will showcase their hip-hop and jazz routines at the state dance and drill competition inside the Yakima Sun Dome. Several Papershakers will also perform in the drill down event.

“We are excited to go up there and bring home some trophies for our school,” said senior captain Brianna Ranck. “We’ve had three sets of coaches in the last three years. It’s been hard, but somehow we made it through all that and became a stronger team.”

Ranck and fellow captains Charis Holscher and Honor Stevenson said they have learned so much from new coaches Sarah Dayley and Ranae Scott. Dayley runs the Dayley Dance Academy studios at Washougal Town Square and Downtown Vancouver.

“It’s been a real transition season for these girls,” Dayley said. “I don’t think I could have done it without Ranae. She’s a Camas native and was part of the first dance team at the school. She has really brought that energy and tradition back into the program.”

Scott teaches yoga and dance classes at the studio. She was instrumental in getting the first dance team started at Camas High, before graduating in 2006.

“It’s awesome being back here. I’m excited to be able to bring back the hip-hop aspect,” Scott said. “It was difficult at first. Most girls were hesitant to take the hip-hop on. But once they started to believe, they have gotten more focused and dedicated. Their enthusiasm is just awesome. Now they know they can do it, and are willing to try new things.”

It wasn’t an easy transition. When Dayley told the girls they would not be using pom-poms in their routines anymore, their jaws dropped.

“A lot of these girls didn’t know anything about technique,” she said. “We took the poms out of their hands to get them to focus on that. Once you learn the basics of dance, you can use those techniques forever.”

Every week has been a work in progress, but the girls are flourishing under the new system.

Camas qualified for state in two events by placing first in hip-hop and second in jazz at the district dance meet on March 3, at Union High School.

Ranck attributed the success to a team dinner the night before districts, which turned into a dance off.

“There was a lot of sugar and loud music,” she said. “When your team is in a good mood like we were on that day, it shows in your energy and your performance.”

Since then, the Papershakers have been practicing hard to perfect their routines for state.

“This is what we all work hard for all year long, to go to state and make a name for ourselves,” Holscher said. “Every single move you make, every motion, every finger and every eyelash counts in the final score.”

It’s an intimidating situation to be placed under a microscope. Scott knows all about it from going to state when she was a senior. All she asks is for the girls to go out on that stage with no fear and perform their best. The rest of the time, they should have fun and enjoy their moment in the spotlight.

“I just hope they have a blast. This is their time to shine,” Scott said. “If these girls love to dance, I hope they keep doing it after high school. Most people give it up. I’m living proof that you don’t have to.”

Holscher has found her calling. She’s been dancing since the age of 3.

“The studio is individual. This is more team oriented,” she said. “It’s a lot more gratifying to win as a team instead of just yourself.”

Ranck quit soccer during her freshman year and tried out for dance with no experience whatsoever.

“I stuck with it because I made friends out here. It’s fun with all the laughs you get trying to learn these new moves,” she said. “At the same time, we work very hard. When we win and bring home hardware, it’s something to celebrate.”