One week before the first Metro West Conference dance kick competition, assistant coach Tara Lindemeier admitted to Kris Rydland she might have made a mistake.
“Coming off a year with COVID, all the extra work that went into choreographing the dances, I was in favor of doing something a little easier. Our choreograph group had our music share last spring and Tara brought in this waltz number. The more I listened to it, I liked it,” Rydland, the Chaska dance head coach, said.
The problem was with the non-traditional beat of the song, there were kick timing issues. That’s when Lindemeier questioned her song choice.
Rydland said after analyzing the routine a major change was needed. They eliminated all double-count kicks, replacing three-fourths of the kicks with single-count kicks.
“All of a sudden it’s working. The timing was hitting. We started getting better and better. Everything started to click,” Rydland said.
On Dec. 11 at the Eastview Invitational, a meet with a number of the top teams in the state, including the host Lightning, Wayzata, Maple Grove, Edina, and Sartell-St. Stephen, Chaska received scores of 92, 89, 88, 86 and 84.
Only Eastview was ranked higher, Chaska finishing second on three of five judge sheets, a rank score of seven.
“It’s a happy, dreamy, full of love dance,” Rydland said. “We only have one hook on our kick line. With COVID still present, we just didn’t feel like it was right to go back to normal just yet.”
Last year, Chaska’s kick dance featured no touching, that meant every dancer kicked singular. It led to some confusion with kick counts from judges.
“Since then judges have really thought about how a kick can look. (Judges) are really recognizing the kicks we’re doing, recognizing how difficult it is to kick alone,” Rydland said.
Chaska has been first in every Metro West Conference meet thus far this season, the championship competition set for 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 18 at New Prague High School.
Chaska also was first in varsity kick and jazz at Andover on Dec. 4.
The Hawks were unable to dance jazz at the Eastview Invitational after changing roster sizes for varsity and JV two days before the competition.
“We were going to finish up Friday and then Friday didn’t happen with the snowstorm, so we had to pull out of the competition,” Rydland said. The coach is excited about the jazz routine, a more upbeat dance.
Captains for the 2021-22 season are seniors Sophie Fronius, Kaylyn Krenos and Lucy Engebretson, along with junior Erica Vannucci. Sophomore Addison Heroux, a varsity dancer in kick and jazz since seventh grade, is another member of the choreograph team.
After the conference season comes a time to revamp and review. A yearly thing Chaska does to freshen up routines, and give dancers a time to recooperate after a tiring stretch to open the season.
“We look at the dances and we discuss what we want to preserve, what we want to change. Sometimes it’s hard letting some things go, but then you see the dance in a new way and you wonder why you didn’t do that from the start. It feels like just what the dance needed,” Rydland said.
COMING BACK TO THE TEAM
One of the greatest compliments as a coach is having former athletes following in the footsteps and returning to coach.
Much of the Chaska staff are former dances, most from the Chaska program. New this year is Mara Rydland, daughter of Kris. Another daughter, Kyra, was a coach previously as well.
“Our former (athletic director) Dick Ungar said something years ago. He said, I see you having a lot of dancers come back. As a coach, I can’t think of anything better. They helped establish a legacy while they were here, and now they are back helping the next groups develop their legacy, and shape the culture of our program,” Kris Rydland said.