The Napa School Spiritleaders attended an elite camp held by the National Dance Alliance during the first week of August at Rocklin High School.
The NDA is a division of the National Spirit Group, founder and leader of the spirit industry since 1948. It is the largest privately owned dance and cheer organization in the country and holds events internationally for some 200,000 participants every year.
The intense camp included some of the top dance teams and solo dancers in California and was designed to challenge highly skilled dancers with elite and college level material not taught at public camps.
The Spiritleaders are freshman Carly Shipp, sophomores Viviana Ceja, Ruby Gorr, Gracianna Hardwick, Ava Harrold, Kim Moreno and Rylee White, juniors Janice Blatteis, Shelby Edmeyer, Sarah Guinn, Jamie Jory, Emma Lloyd and Camryn Nuuhiwa, and seniors Mia Aguirre and Kimberly Melgoza.
The teams were evaluated on team dance routines taught the first day. Napa had the choice of entering in the high school advanced or elite high school dance division, and chose the latter and performed a fast-paced, college-level routine that incorporated four styles of dance – pom, kick, jazz and hip-hop.
The team was scored on the NDA standards of excellence and earned a superior rating, the highest possible. Napa was also selected by the NDA staff for the prestigious “Top Technical Excellence Award.”
The team’s superior rating also earned it a bid to compete at the nationals. Napa also received “spirit sticks” throughout the camp for their high energy, work ethic, and positive spirit display during the long days and nights.
“The team has been training and conditioning all summer in ballet, acro and dance technique classes, so they were excited to see their hard work be recognized,” said their director and head coach, Hollie Schmidt.
The Napa Spiritleaders were also awarded individual merit ribbons for executing superior showmanship, positive spirit and technical excellence throughout the camp. Superior Showmanship Ribbons went to Jory, Guinn, Lloyd, Edmeyer, Melgoza and Moreno. Receiving Spirit Ribbons were Blatteis, Shipp and White, while Ceja and Gorr went home with Technique Ribbons.
The next soloist competition was called “Top Gun.” Dancers could enter four divisions – Kicks, Leaps/Jumps, Turns, and Hip Hop. More than 100 semifinalists were narrowed down to about 10 finalists.
The finalists from Napa were Lloyd, Gorr, Harrold, Ceja and Jory in Kicks, Harrold and Gorr in Leaps/Jumps, Aguirre, Nu’uhiwa and Harrold in Turns, and Nu’uhiwa in Hip Hop.
The highest honor an individual can receive is an All-American Nomination, which is based on superior technique, work ethic, positive attitude and leadership.
The Napa Spiritleaders earned the most nominations, with AAN ribbons going to Aguirre, Melgoza, Nu’uhiwa, Edmeyer, Lloyd, Guinn, Harrold, Ceja and Hardwick.
Nominees went through an additional audition process and were once again evaluated on their individual skills in front of a panel of judges. At the conclusion of camp, Aguirre, Melgoza, Edmeyer and Nu’uhiwa were selected to the All-American Team.
All-American Team members and nominees are invited to perform at NDA specialty events, including a New Year’s Day parade in London or Rome.
Napa’s assistant coaches are Lisa Garcia, Raeme Sergeson and Rylee Schmidt.
The Napa Spiritleaders will hold Youth Cheer and Dance Clinics on Oct. 12 and Jan. 25 for boys and girls ages 4-13. Participants will be taught age-appropriate dance and cheers as well as hip hop/breaking for the boys. They will be invited to perform during halftime of a Napa High junior varsity football game with the 37-time national-champion Spiritleaders.
The annual “Day of Dance & Cheer” is set Dec. 2 and is open and free to all dancers and their teachers in the Napa Valley to showcase their favorite routines created to bring unity in our dance and cheer community.