The signs went up around Washougal last spring — after many years of inquiry, Washougal High was getting its own dance team and coach Amy Greenberg was holding the first of two tryouts to help build the new team.
“We had tryouts at the end of May,” Greenberg says. “We have 20 on the team right now … and I’m hoping to have another tryout in the fall, after we’ve done some assemblies and raised some interest.”
The new dance team has been practicing this summer and attending camps to learn routines. They’ve tried to pull together outfits to use for the start of the 2016-17 season, but since the dance squad is classified as more of a school club than an athletic sports team — despite the athleticism required to learn and perform the dances — Greenberg says fundraising will be a critical component of the new team. Right now, however, the squad is focused on learning their moves and preparing for the start of the school year.
Greenberg comes to the team with many years of dance experience. A 1997 graduate of Mountain View High in Vancouver, Greenberg danced with the Mountainview team during her school years and has helped coach both the dance team and the cheer squad as an adult.
“It’s like a family,” Greenberg says of the Southwest Washington high school dance team community. “We’re very close-knit.”
Although there is friendly competition, the teams tend to support each other and are usually willing to help new teams, like the Washougal Panthers Dance Team, get up to speed. Greenberg has been working with several dance coaches in the area, including Lesa Blanchard, Camas High’s head dance coach, and Mountain View coaches Jordan Stillinger and Betsy Schott.
Already this summer, Greenberg has taken her 20 dance team girls to meet Camas High dancers and coaches, and to the Thunderbird Dance Camp at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, where dance teams from across the region gather each summer to learn new routines and bond with each other and their coaches.
“We went to camp for four days at the beginning of July,” Greenberg says. “It was great. These girls have never danced together before, so it was really good for them to see some of the other teams and to watch some of the teams that have been together for a while.”
Greenberg approached the Washougal School Board and athletic directors at the high school last year about forming a dance team after she and her family, which includes her 14-year-old daughter, Taylor, and 9-year-old twins Adyson and Miley, moved out of Vancouver’s Evergreen School District into the Washougal district.
Suddenly, Taylor, who was an eighth-grader last year, faced the possibility of not being able to dance with a high school team after dancing most of her young life.
Now, Greenberg is thrilled that her daughters will have the chance to dance at Washougal High if they want to. Taylor is already on the dance team, and Greenberg says Adyson will probably be interested in the dance squad, too, while Miley is more interested in playing basketball.
The Washougal dancers will likely perform at halftime shows during home football games and will be involved in the school’s pep assemblies and in being “school ambassadors” for Washougal High, Greenberg says. Already, the dancers have shown their school spirit at the Camas Days Main Parade, and they’re organizing a few fundraisers as well as a second round of tryouts in the fall. Although the team is all girls right now, Greenberg says she’d love to see some boys try out, too.
“We’ll do homecoming and pep rallies,” Greenberg says. “We really want to be there for the community. To be ambassadors for Washougal.”