Pacer dance try-outs moved online

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - The North Platte Pacers dance team has been forced to move its try-outs online with schools being closed.

The North Platte Pacer dance team has had to move its try-outs for the 2020-21 team online. (Credit: Danielle Aman)

Typically, try-outs are held over a week and a half period, during which the girls are taught their routines, before performing the routine in front of judges. With the online try-out, the girls are all required to learn the dance routine on their own, through a YouTube tutorial video.

"It definitely makes it a little bit harder because you knew that you had to go to those practices to learn the material," said junior Maya Lashley. "But, it's different when you have to make time out of your day and set yourself a time to work on the dance. But, it also is a bit of a benefit too, because you could work on it all day and then make the video whenever you need to."

Not being able to learn the routines in-person is difficult for some of the girls, because it is harder for some of them to learn steps and notice mistakes when the video is a recording.

"I do prefer to be in person," said junior Gabriella Wagner. "I've been dancing since I was three, so it just is natural to learn the dance in person. But, it's been a really good practice to learn this dance, the video is very well choreographed and made so that people can understand it, so that's really great."

"I feel like I'm more of a visual like learner," said senior Jessica Nelson. "I like to be able to ask questions, and see it up close. So, that part has been a little hard, but it hasn't been too hard learning it, but it's still just a little different online."

The material for the dancers to learn was provided to North Platte by the company Varsity, and the Universal Dance Association, and Varsity provides the judges as well.

Current senior Makenna Koehn helped out the girls trying out by providing tutorial videos for certain dance moves. Koehn recently had a virtual try-out of her own, for the Midland University dance team, so she knows the process the North Platte girls are experiencing.

"I'm definitely one of those people that really likes to learn in person," Koehn said. "I can get how people would not really enjoy the videos as much, but at the same time, you do get the chance to go back and learn everything. But, if anybody needs help, they can just call each other up."

The added benefit of the online try-outs: dancers can attempt multiple try-out videos, and there is no audience for when they do it.

"The judges definitely are what makes me feel more nervous about try-outs, so have not having that this year I think will be more of an advantage," Nelson said.

This year, there are about 20 girls trying out, which is lower than it typically is, but there are several girls returning to the squad.

"The group that we do have, I'm excited about, and I think that will still have a great team from the girls that are trying out this year," said coach Danielle Aman.

While the situation isn't ideal, Aman is thankful to be able to have try-outs before the fall.

"I just think it's exciting that we're able to continue with [try-outs], when we started this kind of brainstorming process, of what try-outs we're going to look like, I just didn't want to have to wait until next fall, just because there's so many things that happen for us between then," Aman said.

The dancers are also looking on the bright side of being able to have try-outs.

"Learning it online just isn't exactly the same, but I'm still glad we get to have the opportunity to still have a tryout," Nelson said,

"I hope that it will just help us remember how how much of a privilege it is to practice in person and learn the dance together," Wagner said.