The dance department is one that is new to Costa Mesa High's array of extracurriculars. It took root last year, and is currently growing. There are two different elements to it: the dance class and the dance team.
Most know Mrs. Kaska as a math teacher. However, her during 1st period, she teaches dance to students in the small gym. This year is the second that the class has been offered.
The students get to explore a range of different genres, from swing to hip-hop. Like a PE class, students receive credit, go through fitness testing, and their grades--as well as dressing out procedures--are very similar to that of a PE class.
"We did have a class that was about 45 students last year-- it's grown to 60 this year and we also had a wait list of 15, so it's been growing each year, which is nice," said Mrs. Kaska. Experience is not required, the class "is open to anyone that wants to be a part of it."
The dance team is different, however. Although there was a team last year, this year there is an official Junior Varsity and Varsity dance team. Each team has about eight people, and most have prior experience.
"When I was eight or nine, I started dancing. My friend told me to join her, and I did hip-hop and jazz and I really liked it," said junior Angelica Izquierdo, who is on Varsity.
Varsity Team Captain Margarita Cruz, sophomore, has had four years of ballet training and began hip-hop last year. She also has experience in the contemporary form. Cruz is also part of a hip-hop dance crew, which is not school-based.
Auditions are required to be a part of a team, and the auditions for next year's teams will be held in June.
"It's a little bit more advanced," said Mrs. Kaska.
These teams of all girls practice after school and do not receive PE credit.
"Since it is a newer course that we're putting together, we're in the process of working with the counseling team to work out something to get them credit for what they're doing," explained Mrs. Kaska.
"I like dancing," said freshman JV team member Kajol Sharda. "It's energetic and expressive."
"In dance, you can be any character you want to be," said Margarita Cruz. "You feel a song and dance it through your body."
"My first passion is dance, my whole life it's been. So this has always been an ultimate goal for me," said Mrs. Kaska, who majored in dance.
On the topic of whether dancing is a sport or an art form, Mrs. Kaska said, "It's both really. It's hard to categorize it in one or the other. It's very athletic. It uses your body and muscles--you stretch--it's very tiring. But it is an art, the choreography of it, the storytelling, the lighting, the costumes, everything that goes into performance is very artistic."
Margarita Cruz explained the sport-like qualities of dance through the training and conditioning required. "But most of the time, dancing isn't really about the competition--it's about performing."
The team mainly takes part in performances instead of competitions for a number of reasons. "We are still working on funding for our program, and it costs a lot of money to go to competitions," said Mrs. Kaska, "My personal belief is that when you compete, it promotes a certain competitive behavior, and I want to build my program more towards the performance, growing within yourself, and I think that matures my students a little bit better than competing."
So what’s the answer to the Equestrian’s question? To those who dance, it's not something they need to be sure about. What they are sure about, however, is the passion they have for what they do.
"It's just part of me," said Angelica Izquierdo.
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