Revived dance team brings confidence and culture to WHS


Yara Attar

The dance team poses for a photo after an October practice.

While walking down the hallway past the black box after a long school day, most students would not expect to hear the booming sounds of hip-hop music, the thuds of dancing feet and the shouts and laughter of teenage girls. However, this fall the black box theater has become home to the revival of the WHS Girls Dance Team.

Though WHS has previously been host to various dance groups, this team is new for 2018 and is focused on how it will impact the lives of the dancers. The team is coached and advised by high school technology support specialist Karina Soto, and choreographed by Soto and sophomore captain Julia Craigwell. As a leader, Craigwell recounted her plans for the team’s outreach.

“Our goal is to inspire the students and staff of WHS to know that you can do anything you put your mind to and not to let anyone hold you back from pursuing your dreams,” Craigwell said.

While Soto has similar hopes, hers are more oriented to the students dancing on the team and their personal growth.

“[The objective] is to have fun, to build a community, to build a relationship with the girls on the team, to build confidence, and to shine,” Soto explained.

Confidence has been the main focus for Soto in recreating this team. With an all-female group, Soto’s goal is to instill confidence in all of her dancers.

“When they’re walking down these halls, I want their heads to always be up. I want them to be so proud of who they are and where they’re from,” Soto described.

Junior Nneoma Onwuama described her excitement to see how Soto’s passion for this team will show through and affect her teammates.

“I can’t wait to see how Karina [Soto] forms us and shapes us into the confident girls that we should be, not worrying about what other people are saying,” Onwuama said.

Freshman Raneem Abu-Hasan echoed this praise of Soto as a coach and mentor.

“She’s the kind of person that you can talk to about anything, and she’ll understand,” Abu-Hasan said.

This year the Dance Team is also focused on diversity and celebrating different cultures. Soto spoke about her excitement for the girls on her team and the different perspectives they will bring.

“I’ve got some Nigerian girls, I’ve got some Caribbean girls in there, I’ve got some Haitian girls and I want to take all of that [culture] and create something,” Soto noted. “Black History Month is coming up in February, and for that there’s going to be a lot of different cultures [in our dances].”

The girls themselves are looking forward to sharing their cultures and backgrounds. One way this will be possible is through many different types of dance.

“Later on in the year we will learn some other dance styles like Afro, Contemporary and Spiritual,” Onwuama said.

The team is also planning to fundraise in the future and compete against other schools and teams. However, this year’s plan is to focus on building the team’s skills and community.

“Our main goal right now is for the girls to learn routines, build confidence, to show it during assemblies, and build exposure,” Soto noted.

Onwuama echoed this sentiment, recognizing the strengths of the group as well as the importance of dance in breaking down barriers.

“There is a lot of community in how close we are as a family, not only by color, age or gender,” Onwuama noted. “People come from different places, but dance brings them together.”

Sanghoo Lee
The dance team puts on a performance during the Halloween Assembly.