If you write down New Trier High School’s largest athletic programs (swimming, track and field, soccer), dance would not be high on the list.
But it’s not for a lack of interest.
“I’ve always had a ton of girls come to tryouts and I’ve always had to cut a lot in past years,” fifth-year Trevians coach Courtney Kafkis said. “… I was cutting like 50-60 girls at a time, and it was a lot.”
The high level of interest has helped spark an evolution of New Trier dance within the past couple of years.
Not only does the dance program now include a junior varsity team and operate within the athletics department (a switch from activities) but also it just completed the most successful competition season in program history. The Trevians advanced to the state championships for the first time, competing against the state’s best on Friday, Jan. 27, in Bloomington.
“We made it a goal this year that we were going to to make it,” Kafkis said. “The girls worked really, really hard. We had a lot of hard practices and we did it. We’re super excited.”
In 2022, the Trevians finished one place (7th) and two points (73.53) away from state qualification in the 15-team Deerfield Sectional.
A year’s worth of work paid off on Jan. 21, when New Trier scored an 81.53 to claim sixth place at the Warren Sectional and a place in the state finals.
As the scores were read aloud, the Trevians, like other teams, sat in a circle awaiting their fate.
“This is our first time ever going to state so it was a huge deal for us,” senior co-captain Maddie Simon said. “Knowing we had a pretty good chance going into the awards ceremony was super nerve-wracking but so rewarding.”
Simon and fellow captain Katie Farrell have been competitive dancers since middle school and admired New Trier dancers who performed at halftime of the high school’s football and basketball games.
They have seen the program’s progress through the years and credit commitment for the Trevians’ improvement year over year.
“A part of it is we had really good choreographers … so we learned the dance over the summer, the whole thing in two days,” Farrell said. “And ever since then we’ve been continuously working on it. I think this year a big part of it was having more determination. … We were so close last year; this year, it was like, ‘All right, it’s going to happen.'”
Effort can only get you so far. The Trevians had to improve their skills as well.
Kafkis said in dance competitions incremental improvement is all about the cleanliness of a routine, meaning in sync motion, fluid movements and tight formations.
All those things come from focused repetition, she said.
“A lot of it is synchronization, so the girls have to be really, really clean,” Kafkis said. “Those things were awesome this year. We had a lot of tricks, which always scores high in difficulty, and we have a lot of great dancers who can pull those tricks.
“And we mastered all of it so we scored pretty high.”
The Trevians performed their final routine of the season on the biggest stage Friday, Jan. 27, scoring a 79.46 — not high enough to advance to Day 2.
Loyola Academy’s dance team also advanced to the state championships. The Ramblers scored an 85.36 in the preliminary round on Friday, just 0.9 away from advancing to the finals on Saturday.
It was Loyola’s seventh consecutive performance at state, an event that began in 2015.
The Class 3A division was won by Lake Park (97.87), ahead of Barrington (96.68), Stevenson (94.02), Naperville North (93.46) and Maine South (92.94). Lake Forest (92.72) won the 2A division, just ahead of Geneva (92.48), while Jacksonville (92.4) took the 1A crown.
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