Sashay, plié and ballet

Katie Outwater, the final season

April 12, 2017


Years of footwork, dozens of costumes and days of sore muscles are a few ways to describe the time senior Katie Outwater has put into her sport. Outwater has spent 16 years in dance, 6 years of that competitively.

“Dance, to me, is expressing my emotions on stage,” Outwater said. “My favorite genre of dance is lyrical. I choose sad songs to dance to. I like to bring myself to the stage and be bold with my movements.”

The Jazzy Jen’s competitive dance team instructs 20 competitive dancers, and ranges from age 8 to adult.

“Dance provides structure and discipline,” Jazzy Jen’s Dance Studio owner Jennifer Paton said. “It shows students you have a good work ethic, and that you have to work hard to achieve your goals. Practice makes perfect.”

Dancers across the state gather at these events to compete against each other. Hundreds of dancers show up to take part.

“Competition is very stressful,” 8th grader Haylie Steinkraus said. “You are put under a lot of pressure to do your best, and it costs a lot of money. So, if you mess it up, it’s kind of over with.”

The older dancers get paired with a younger dancer to mentor them. These pairs then become “dance sisters.”

Students commit to competing multiple times a year, and attend a recital at the end of the school year.

“The seniors are my role models. They give me someone to look up to and help me set goals for myself,” Steinkraus said. “My dance sister is Autumn Shingledecker, so I kind of look up to her when it comes to dancing.”

The 2017 dance season is the last that three seniors, Katie Outwater, Autumn Shingledecker and Darian Laird, will compete.

The seniors final performance in competition is April 28, and their recital is June 11.

“It’s fun,” Laird said. “Seeing other dancers compete, staying at hotels and having the ability to chose what you do in your dance. It’s sad because it’s our last year with all the other people. They play a video at the recital, seeing all the memories of the seniors is really sad.”

This may be Katie’s final season, but she hopes to pass her passion for dance on to the younger girls in the studio.

“Do not even get me started about my senior year,” Outwater said. “For me, as a senior it’s important to inspire the younger kids to stay. It will be hard to leave my team in June; they’re like my family.”

“Do not even get e started about my senior year,” Outwater said. “For me, as a senior, it’s important to inspire younger kids to stay. It will be hard to leave my team in June. They’re like my family.”

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