Knights dance to Wells Fargo Arena

Wartburg Dance
Wartburg Dance Team captains Courtney Mehus (left) and Morgan Ciota prepare the squad for state competition. The team has only a few weeks left until they go to Des Moines. –Allix Williamson/TRUMPET

The Wartburg Dance Team tends to take a back seat to the teams that they support, but on Dec. 5 it will be their turn to take center stage.

The Wartburg Knights Dance Team is preparing for their state contest at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. The team is competing in both the jazz and pom divisions, Kendra Oswald, Wartburg Dance Team coach, said.

“Jazz is similar to what a ballet style would be, but it is more contemporary than ballet,” Oswald said. “Pom is more of a showmanship kind of thing. It is definitely more visual than jazz.”

In 2013, the Iowa College Dance Team organization changed the division from both NAIA schools to Division III schools, Oswald said. The Knights will compete against fellow Iowa Conference schools Buena Vista, Coe, Central and Simpson.

Oswald said the team is smaller this year, with the Knights taking 12 dancers for the pom routine and seven dancers for the jazz routine.

“The nice thing about going with a smaller team is that we can choose our strongest competitors: the ones that we feel are going to go out there and do their best and be able to compete against these other schools,” Oswald said.

The Knights are led by captains Courtney Mehus and Morgan Ciota.

“It is my last year, so I am excited to go out there on the floor one last time and dance and have a great time with the team,” Mehus said.

The team is looking forward to showing new things in their routines this year, Mehus said.

“We have a few new lifts that we are incorporating in our dance and it is coming along really well so far,” Mehus said.

The captains assist the coach with planning what dances need to be practiced. They also help their fellow dancers further develop their techniques and skills, Ciota said.

“This year we decided to keep the dances a little bit simpler and focus more on execution and tightness and having an overall effect of looking like we are all moving as one unit,” Ciota said.

The team has utilized different choreographers for their routines this year, which Mehus believes will benefit the team. The Knights placed second in the pom division last year.

“We always talk about winning, but really, going and dancing on the state floor is probably the best and most rewarding part of the whole thing. It doesn’t matter what place we come out as, as long as we had a good time with everybody,” Mehus said.

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