Beyond the Poms, a Behind the Scenes Look Into the Dance Team


Photo by David Hofmann on Unsplash

You see them at halftime for less than five minutes, but do you know what goes into the team’s  performance?

The Patriot High School dance team performs on the field at halftime during  varsity football games. The dance team prepares weeks before the performance and there is a lot of planning that goes into the final production. The team is composed of all four high school grade levels and four  captains collaborate on ideas.

Two of the four captains create choreography for the team to learn. The team then has to learn the dance outside of their normal practice time so that they have time during school practice to work on the parts that need fixing. Emily Folsom (‘23), dance team captain said, “Our team can pick up choreography overall very quickly, but when it comes to details or faster more syncopated movement that is where we all need to marinate as we like to call it, let it sit for a day then come back to it.” This allows time for the team to individually understand the dance so that they perform to the best of their ability.

The dance team performs complicated and interesting routines which sometimes require time for the dancers to process what was just given to them. The whole team needs to know the choreography, so they have a successful performance. Folsom (‘23) said , “When we are getting closer to performance time, we clean our dances section by section super slowly to allow time for questions and clarification on anything which has kept us on the same page.” Emily and the other captains help make sure everyone gets the same amount of guidance needed so that there are minimal errors.

During the practice time given to the team after school, it is important that they use that time to their fullest so that everyone on the team is ready for the performance. As with any sports practice,  what you do during that allocated time is crucial for how your performance will be. The team gets ready for productive practice by warming up and talking about what is included in the practice. Folsom (‘23) said,  “we start our practices in a circle, hearing our plan for the day from our coach and just relaxing a bit after a long day of school. After that, we go straight into a warmup and get right to work.” Starting off their practice with this circle informs the dancers of what their practice entails. They then get straight into practice because they want to get the most out of the time given to them.

Along with having good practices the team has a tradition they do before each performance. This helps them calm down before they go out onto the field. Many professional dancers like Christopher McDaniel, who dances for Los Angeles ballet,  even has a pre-performance tradition as well. Folsom (‘23) said,  hen there is around 2 minutes to halftime, the team tradition is to ‘power pose’, which is standing in a circle with our hands on our hips and our eyes closed. It helps us all relax and clear our heads before we go out to perform.”This is a tradition that is not just fun for the members but also allows the dancers to relieve any anxiety they have.

The dance team puts plenty of hard work and dedication into practice and at home. Sometimes their commitment can be overlooked, and many people could go as far as saying that dance is not a hard activity. Dance requires your body to be physically and mentally sharp. Folsom (‘23) said, “Dancing is hard. It takes a lot to learn, clean, and perform dances for every home game and to make it look easy. It takes a lot of time and a lot more effort than some would think.” Many studies have been conducted over the past years supporting the idea that dance is more than just movements put together. Instead, it has been shown to

With the last of the dance team performances being October 28th,  the team had prepared harder than ever to end their football performances off on a good note. In that performance they incorporated poms which is not an easy skill to master. Poms require precise movements and concentration.  Poms put added weight onto your arms making it harder to move more freely during a performance. When Emily was asked about how she thought her team was going to perform she responded with, “As a whole we need to work on not letting our energy drain. My pom dance is very difficult and hard to get through even for me, but the more we run it the stronger we will be. By the time gameday comes, I am very confident that everyone will get through the dance with ease.”