The Saltatrix dance team traveled to the Tremaine National Dance competition where they also attended a variety of workshops at Disney in Anaheim from March 31- April 2. The team earned a second place spot competing against some of the best dance teams in the country, under the direction of longstanding coach Sheila Dwyer.
Dwyer said that coaching Saltatrix is basically a dream job, and that she loves seeing the progression of her dancers from a young age.
“Even if I won the lottery,” Dwyer said. “I would still coach Saltatrix. I love it. They have that drive. They work harder than any team I know. I could not have a better job in the world. Its super gratifying to see them go from four years old and kind of shy to performing against the some of the best dancers in the country.”
Dwyer has been taking her teams to Tremaine since 1996, when she first began teaching Saltatrix. The first year only a handful of her dancers went, but Dwyer said that ever since then, the team has always had drive to go again.
“There was only five that went that year," Dwyer said. “After those five, we were like, we have to go again.”
Sophomore choreographer Pamela Miranda enjoyed the competition and was happy to beat some of the best private schools and studios from around the country as well as growing more with her team.
“The competition overall was a good experience,” Miranda said, “I think it was really fun how we went as a team and bonded, and how as a small public school from El Paso, we were able to go and be just as good as these private high schools and studios from all over the country."
The team consists of seventeen members: five freshmen, six sophomores, three juniors and three seniors. Each member of the team is held to a high standard, regardless of their age. Freshman Zoie Thomsen said that she was expected to be at the same level despite her being a new member of the team.
“It is a lot of hard work, but it’s helping me for more things in life," Thomsen said. "They do expect us to be at the same level. Age groups don’t ever matter. I like the team environment, it makes it fun knowing there’s other people going through the same thing.”
Junior Luis Llanes, who's new to the team this year, said that being the only guy on the team increases his presence on stage, but that any performance ultimately reflects the team as a whole.
“We compete at a professional level, and everyone always improves throughout the year,” Llanes said. “You’re always going to stand out if you’re the tallest, only blonde, or if you’re the only guy on the team. You stand out, but it's a team effort. I like the pressure here, it’s made me a better dancer.”
Junior Lily Rubio, who won first in her solo competition, said that it was a great feeling to win with her original choreography.
“It was really uplifting to win,” Rubio said, “It made me feel like I did something right choreographing my own solo. Putting all my hard work into it, and seeing it all pay off.”
Dwyer thanks the district and administration of the school for their commitment to the arts and loves that the district supports the students in fine arts to help the culture grow in El Paso.
“I love that the Ysleta district and that all of the other superintendents they get the importance of fine arts,” Dwyer said. “If you go to other districts in El Paso they don’t have the don’t have all the expenditures on dance rooms. It translates into good grades and work ethic and they get that. As well as the principles and vice principles that support this and let us take time away from school. They recognize that we’ll bring this all back to our little district in El Paso.”
Hopefully next year the Saltatrix team can enjoy just as much if not more success at the Tremaine contests in the summer.