Don’t Forget About Dance


Adrianna Neal, Contributing Writer

Performing arts has been the main focus of my time at Poly since freshman year. Between Advanced Dance, Advanced Concert Choir, plays, musicals, Dance Team, Harmonics, and more, I have enjoyed being an active member of the arts community here at Poly. Being at the school since fall of 2019, I have also seen the arts at Poly go through many stages, and experience the effects of COVID. I feel that the dance program and experience in particular has been altered the most noticeably since my freshman year. 

When I first came to Poly, the Dance Team was a huge deal. We had 19 members (including one male-identifying student), and were well-known within the student body and faculty. Our team practiced multiple times per week, had a preseason, and many peers looked forward to and attended our performances. Once COVID hit, this all stopped completely. The Dance Team barely existed my entire sophomore year. We didn’t hold auditions; we didn’t have performance opportunities. It felt like we lost our presence in the community. 

When Poly returned to a version of normalcy in the fall of 2021, the Dance Team had only seven girls. This was a huge step down from numbers in previous years, and it was a battle to get people to recognize and respect us again with so few members on the team. The coaches here at Poly put a big emphasis on sports teams returning to their normal seasons, and a lot of students felt they could no longer balance their other sports teams with dance. 

It saddens me that other teams on campus are being made a higher priority than dance, but this has been a struggle even before COVID. As dancers, we work just as hard and spend the same amount of time perfecting our craft but it feels as though we don’t get the same praise. Ballet, for example, plays an important role in a football player’s technique, yet people flock to the football game instead of the dance concerts. What is a football game without a national anthem? That national anthem singer spends the same amount of time working on their vocal technique as a football player spends running drills. But again, it’s all about the sports right? Junior Ella Lille Yerrington has been taking dance at Poly since 5th grade. She says “I feel like in general people typically appreciate sports more or get more into it, especially guys, which is half the student body.” 

Before my time at Poly, multiple male-identifying students were involved in dance classes at Poly — taking dance classes and performing at dance concerts. But as time went on, toxic masculinity took over the minds of much of the male population. I feel that at Poly it has become frowned upon to be a male involved in dance. We now only have one male dancer involved in our dance concerts: Junior Ezekiel Wise. 

“It’s honestly a little daunting being the only male dancer at Poly, especially since I’ve never been classically trained. Yes, I have received some comments about it from immature boys but it doesn’t really affect me,” Wise said. “I will say there is a little bit of added pressure because it feels like I have to be the one to represent male dancers, but I’m trying my best so that I can be the representation for any boy younger than me who might want to participate in the  dance program. Dance is not feminine, and dance is not ‘for girls,’ just like basketball and soccer are not ‘for boys.’ Dancers work just as hard if not harder than every other athlete, and I wish more people would understand how difficult and taxing it can be.”

I feel that compared to pre-COVID, our arts community has significantly dwindled, with some people forgetting how hard the students and faculty work in the arts community. My goal, along with my co-captain Atiya Pope, has been to rebuild the Dance Team back to its fullest potential. We currently have 17 members on our team, multiple team uniforms, team jackets, pom-poms, and have had multiple performance opportunities in these past couple months. Atiya and I don’t plan on stopping here, and we plan on continuing to expand on our ideas to make dance at Poly the best it has ever been. Especially now that Poly is building a brand new arts center, I think it’s time to bring the hype back around the arts at Poly among the student body.