Dance team: ‘Versace tie’ on marching band’s tuxedo


Chandler Morris

By Chandler Morris
Every football game and pep rally the Grady dance team performs for the student body. While students only see the routine, there is much more that goes into being a member of the dance team.

Before becoming a member, dancers have to go through tryouts. A panel of coaches from other schools judge and score dancers on routines. Dancers with a high enough score make the team and those with the highest scores become captains.
Tianna Armstrong, co-captain of the dance team, tried out without dance experience.

“I had never had professional dance a day in my life … I tried to execute every move they had given to me, I added some personality, you know, a little swag to it. I would wink at the judges sometimes, it was fun,” Armstrong said. “Anybody can come and try out for our workshops, come to camps with us, we have plenty of room on this team. We are a good team; we are good to each other, and we try to dance, not just for ourselves, but dance for other people, too.”

Besides performing at Grady sports events, the dancers practice four times a week from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and regularly condition. At practices, the dancers choreograph routines and practice the moves until they can execute them perfectly. The team also works alongside the marching band to practice routines for halftime shows.

“You have the band, and you have the dancers. We are like the Versace tie on the tuxedo,” Armstrong said.

This year, Maisha Land took over as the Grady dance coach. Land was originally the coach of Carver High School’s dance team, but came to Grady when the previous coach left. According to senior dancer Keira Bruce, the team went through a transformation when Land took over.
“In 10th grade, when I first tried out, there were a lot of issues with the team. But when Land came, there was such a big shift,” Bruce said. “It was really nice to see her put in effort towards the team and towards giving us an image, making us an Instagram page, getting us the best uniforms, and just making us look really classy. It just showed how much she cares for us and how much she loves what she does.”

According to team members, Land practices tough love and pushes the dancers hard to get results.
“Coach Land has turned the team around through hard work, sweat, dedication and tears. She’s a really hard coach, she pushes us,” said Amariah Land, a junior on the team and the coach’s daughter.

“Everybody is her child on the team, she wants everybody to do their best. She pushes us hard. She pushes us to be what we aspire to be which is great.”

These long hours have brought the team closer together and formed what the dancers describe as a sisterhood. According Armstrong, this sisterhood makes them better dancers.

“We wouldn’t be as good if we didn’t have the sisterhood,’’ Armstrong said. “We are one person. We do this together. When you are good friends with your teammates, you dance better because we have a connection. We encourage each other.”

Being on the dance team has not only given the dancers lasting friendships, but has also taught them skills they can apply in the future. According to Amariah Land, the long hours of practice requires dedication and discipline.

“The biggest thing dance team has contributed towards is discipline,’’ she said. “You have to learn how to listen to your peers, your captain or your co-captain. You have to learn to listen to your coaches, and you have to learn to listen to your teammates … So, I think dance team works your listening skills, compliance, and definitely discipline.”