Corner Canyon High drill team crowned region champs, take fifth at state
Corner Canyon’s region-winning Charelles kick during their drill routine at the state championships where they finished fifth. (Jordan Peterson/Corner Canyon High School)
Topping the school’s third consecutive regional title and taking fifth at the state championships may be hard to build upon, but Corner Canyon did just that as its drill team recently returned from touring New York City.
For five days in mid-February, Corner Canyon’s drill team, known as the Charelles, took a master class with Rockette Beth Darling at the Broadway Dance Center as well as classes in contemporary and jazz at Steps on Broadway. They also saw four Broadway shows — “Aladdin,” “School of Rock,” “Wicked” and “Cirque du Soleil” — and saw the New York City sights.
“Last year, we went to nationals, but we wanted to change it up and have the team learn from some master classes as well as see some professional dancing on Broadway,” Drill Team Coach Jordan Peterson said. “Many of my dancers had not had the chance to experience the East Coast ‘dance world’ and this was a great opportunity. Exposure to dance in the ‘real world’ is an important component of growing as a dancer.”
Senior Aleece Smith was awarded the Outstanding Charelles scholarship, which was used for the continuing education trip to New York City. The scholarship is awarded to a dancer who shows exemplary dedication to her team and her art.
“We look carefully at their attitudes toward their teammates and peers, their academic standings, their willingness to fulfill duties asked of them as a member throughout the year and more. Basically, a teammate who has been a shining star and deserves a little something extra for it,” Peterson said.
Peterson planned the trip for the end of the year so they could recover from the season and get excited for the upcoming year.
“At the end of the year, they are pretty burned out and it is nice to go and take class without the competition pressure. It helps reignite the fire they have for their art and the passion they have for the dancing, not just the competing,” Peterson said.
Even though Corner Canyon’s competitive season began in December, the team practices throughout the year. The Charelles performed during football and basketball halftimes as well as at several community events, including the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society benefit concert and the recognition gala, where they performed their hip-hop routine.
The team also donated their time to the community, such as organizing a hygiene drive for refugees and a peanut butter drive for the Utah Food Bank, collecting items for Eliza’s library and helping organize and participate in the Light the Night Walk.
Early in the year, the Charelles set their team theme based on English Anglican cleric George Whitefield’s quote, “Press forward. Do not stop, do not linger in your journey, but strive for the mark set before you.”
“We have a theme each year that we keep in mind as we progress. It does not necessarily reflect in our routines, but in our conduct, our attitude and our work. Our theme this year was ‘Press Forward.’ We focused on the action of pressing and utilized that mentality to continue to press forward through the hard practices, through the defeats, through the critiques,” Peterson said.
At their first competition in early December, the team competed at the Excalibur Classic at Copper Hills High School where they took third place in both the officer and dance categories and fifth in kick. At the competition at Juan Diego Catholic High School the next week, the Charelles placed third in military, dance and kick routines.
The team steadily improved, taking second overall with second-place finishes on Jan. 7 in dance, kick and military categories at the Utah Valley Premiere Dance Classic.
“That was an important competition since they were hosting state and we could get used to the floor there,” Peterson said.
On Jan. 14, the Charelles hosted the Rocky Mountain Drill Classic, which they coordinated and ran as a fundraiser for their New York trip. Although the team didn’t compete, individual dancers placed: junior Kylee Wilson, first place in contemporary; sophomore Abby Theler, first place in jazz; senior Malory Ogden, third place in jazz; junior Gracie Snow, second place in lyrical; and junior Hope Broman, third place in lyrical.
It also gave them a week to prepare for the regional competition. It showed as Corner Canyon swept each category — military, dance and kick — and won the region 7 4A title for the third straight year.
“We had a big turnout and lots of support for our team since region was hosted on our home floor. We were comfortable there and excited to perform before our fans and family,” Peterson said.
Sixteen members were recognized for having a 3.75 grade-point average or higher and three members — seniors Janie Boman, Paige Coker and Summer Miller — were named all-region outstanding members. In addition, three members placed in the drill-down: junior Becca Hammond claimed second; sophomore Erika Wells took third and junior Lexi Kilgore finished fourth.
“It gave us reaffirmation that we were working hard and improving. It’s been a transition year, gaining freshmen, seniors graduating and our assistant coach Jacie Epperson will be leaving. But we’ve become a cohesive group and our upperclassmen have been great mentors for our big group of freshmen,” Peterson said.
At the state competition, Corner Canyon won its preliminary grouping on Feb. 2 to move into finals two days later.
“We’ve been pretty consistent all year so we wanted to execute well and show our talent, showcasing three very different styles of dance,” she said.
The Charelles placed fifth in military and kick and sixth in dance, giving the team a fifth overall finish.
“This coming year will be a challenge because of the shakeup in regions and we’ll be moving into 5A. But these challenges will give our team a chance to improve, to find harder routines to master, to be precise,” Peterson said.
Auditions for the 2017-18 team were slated for mid-March. But before the 2016-17 team finished, they performed a showcase, featuring solos and all-team routines, including football or auxiliary pieces and competition routines.