Former BlazerDancer Builds Powerhouse Dance Team

When talking with dancers, I’ve been known to say, “Make your mark, don’t just stand on it!” Allow me to introduce you to a dancer who made her mark and is staking her claim in the world of dance: Sara Anderson is the coach of the Lincoln High School Dance Team in Portland, OR. The Cardinal ladies under Sara’s direction are the proud champions of the 2010 Oregon State Dance Team Championship. Sara began dancing at age six, danced on the Rex Putnam High School Dance Team and performed as a BlazerDancer for the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers for four years. Committed to the community and her passion for dance, Sara interviewed for the dance team coach position at Lincoln High School, and 13 years later she says, “The rest is history.” History is right. Sara and the Cardinals Dance Team have won eight Oregon State Dance Team titles!

Sara is also the owner of Elite Dance Studio (which has been open for seven years), co-coach of the Junior BlazerDancers for the last six years and coordinates competitive teams outside of the studio along with the Cardinals Dance Team. I sat down with Sara to learn about some of the challenges and positives aspects she finds while coaching the team and how she has time to do it all.

“My biggest personal challenge is juggling my schedule," she says. "Between my own family with two kids ages 7 and 4, my demands at the studio and the studio competitive teams schedule, as well as coaching the Junior BlazerDancers, and our rehearsal schedule at Lincoln… Whew... Everyday is a busy one! Thank goodness I’m surrounded by wonderful, helpful and supportive people. There are so many positive aspects I love about coaching. The sense of accomplishment and pride I get when I watch the dancers perform. I love watching them grow not only has dancers but as young women. I am still very close with many of the girls that have gone through my program over the years.”

Sara believes that as a coach you have to “lead by example and bring a strong work ethic and dedication for the program. A united team is a successful team,” she says. Sara creates a positive atmosphere for the girls and says, “We take time for team bonding and do fun activities outside of practice, like bowling, movie nights and team dinners. I remind the dancers we are all here for the same reason, with the same goals. I always try to finish every rehearsal on a positive note. Keeping your dancers inspired and motivated is important not only for the teams’ success but for the overall experience the dancers have in your program. Our team is rich with traditions and the dancers love that! Most importantly, help them believe in themselves, their teammates and their dance.”

After winning eight dance team titles (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010), Sara emphasizes that “your dancers will take cues from you about how to respond after a big win or an upsetting loss. We talk about winning and losing gracefully and we talk about respecting what the judges say and the scores we receive. If we are happy with our performance then we graciously accept the outcome. We talk about the will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win.”
 
With more than 30 dancers on her team, the audition process can be competitive. Sara suggests that dancers “do their research before auditions. It is always good to come into an audition well trained, but some of my best dancers have started their training later in life. It is all about how bad you want something. If I select a dancer who shows raw potential, I will encourage them to get outside training as well as provide them with more guidance during rehearsals. Before auditions I always remind the dancers to show me how much they love to dance when they hit the stage. I say, ‘I can fix your feet, but I cannot fix your attitude...passion comes from inside!’”

 

The 2010 Oregon State Dance Team Champions are the Lincoln High School Cardinals consisting of members Alaina, Ali, Alyssa, Amanda, Andrea, Ashley, Aubree, Caroline, Casey, Cassidy, Catalina, Clare, Dorie, Emma, Eri, Hannah, Judy, Kayla, Kristy, Lexi, Lyndsey, Mackenzie, Maddie, Maddy, Maggie, Malia, McKenzie F, Mckenzie T, Natalie G, Natalie M, Rachael, Serena and Shaina. (Head Coach Sara Anderson, Assistant Coach Shelly Misevch and Team Manager Phyllis Zeck). Congratulations, ladies!

You can find their performance from the state championship at www.osaa.tv/events/10507 and learn more about the Cardinals at www.teamphotogalleries.com/team-LincolnCardinalDancers. For more on Elite Dance Studio, visit www.EliteDanceStudio.org.

 

 

 

 

Photos from top to bottom: Sara Anderson by Pat Fox; the 2010 Lincoln High School Dance Team by Phyllis Zeck

Latest Posts


Photo by Jayme Thornton

How Paloma Garcia-Lee Manifested Her Dream Role, in Steven Spielberg’s "West Side Story"

On a rainy day in November 2018, Paloma Garcia-Lee got a call from her agent that brought her to her knees outside her New York City apartment: She was going to play Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.

The call came after a lengthy audition process with Spielberg in the room, and the role, originated by Wilma Curley on Broadway in 1957 and later portrayed by Gina Trikonis in the 1961 film, was her biggest dream. In fact, it's something Garcia-Lee says she manifested from the day plans for the movie were announced in January 2018. "I wrote in my journal: 'I am playing Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.'"

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by @mediabyZ

Am I Less Committed to Dance Because I Have Other Passions? (Spoiler Alert: NO!)

Let's face it—dance is HARD, and in order to achieve your goals, you need to be committed to your training. "Still, there's a fine line between being committed and being consumed." Dancers can, and should, have interests outside of the studio.

Not convinced? We talked with dance psychologist Dr. Lucie Clements and two multifaceted dancers, Kristen Harlow (a musical theater dancer pursuing a career in NYC and Kentucky) and Kallie Takahashi (a dancer in her final year at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts), and got the inside scoop on how having hobbies outside of dance can inform your artistry, expand your range and help prevent burnout.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by Jamayla Burse

Catching Up With Christian Burse, Comp Kid Turned Complexions Rising Star

With her nearly limitless facility, well-timed dynamics and incredible control, Christian Burse's future as a dancer was guaranteed to be bright. A student at the renowned Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX, and at Dance Industry Performing Arts Center in Plano, TX, Burse has consistently made waves: She won first runner-up for Teen Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals in 2019, received a grant for summer study at Juilliard from the Texas Young Masters program in 2020, and was named a YoungArts finalist for dance in 2021.

So, it wasn't all that surprising when Burse announced that, at just 17 years old, she would be joining Complexions Contemporary Ballet as an apprentice for the company's 2021–22 season.

Dance Spirit caught up with Burse to hear all about her first season with Complexions ahead of the contemporary ballet company's run at the Joyce Theater in NYC this month.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search