Dance Team struts into spotlight, waiting for ‘the beat drop’

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The Dance Team poses for one last photo before hitting the court for their performance.(Clockwise) Sophomore Dannion Saunders, sophomore Aliany Vargas, junior Jannais Flores, senior Jennifer Hernandez, sophomore Valencia Jean, sophomore Victoria Karatzas, sophomore Gabby Lebron with senior and team captain, Marissa Ortiz (center).

Elyssa Harriott, Staff Writer

As much as a crew as they are a family, Central’s dance team seems to have fallen into a rhythm of their own, striving to be a safe and creative outlet for students. 

Although they were sidelined from their performances due to COVID last year, the PBC Dance Team has made their way back to the dance floor. This year, the team can be found performing on the basketball court at home varsity basketball games during half time. Unfortunately, this year, the team won’t be traveling or competing due to the ongoing pandemic.

The team is composed of eight girls, sophomores to seniors. One unique aspect of the team is its diversity, having its dancers represent a variety of cultures such as Greece, Jamaica, Haiti, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. 

Tryouts for the team are held during late August to early September every year. Dancers are chosen based on characteristics like their enthusiasm, cooperation, passion for dance, academic achievement, and basic dance skills.

Ever since the reintroduction of the team three years ago, the dance team has been headed by Coach Devivo who minored in dance in college. 

The team practices in Coach Devivo’s room or the courtyard every Monday and Wednesday after school. They begin their practices by stretching and then they run over the previous dances learned and then go over any new dances.

“The first day of practice gave me so much joy to have my former and new members so excited to be on the dance team this year,” said senior and captain Marissa Ortiz. “I am looking forward to watching our hard work and dedication pay off at each and every basketball game that we perform at this year.” 

Together, Coach Devivo and Ortiz work to choreograph their dances. Usually, Ortiz gets sent music and figures out how the dance will be. There is no single genre of music the dance team performs to, but the most common are hip-hop, jazz, and classical. 

On game days, the team prepares for their performances by first having an hour of relaxation and homework time. Then, they go outside, stretch, and go over their dance routine, leaving an hour to eat, change, and do hair and makeup before halftime.

For the first time this year, Ortiz led her squad onto the basketball court during halftime at the girls’ varsity basketball game on November 17.

“It was amazing to receive so much support during our first performance,” noted Devivo.

When the dance team is not dazzling the crowd with their moves, they also battle many misconceptions about their sport.

A misconception that the dance team encounters is that they dance provocatively, and this isn’t what the dance team wants to represent. One way they try to eliminate this stereotype is by keeping all their dance moves that are below the waist pointed away from the audience. 

Other misconceptions are that the team is only for girls or they are the same as the step team. In reality, the dance team is open to everyone regardless of gender, sex, race, or grade level.  Additionally, the teams have two different styles of dance — the dance team uses music while the step team creates a rhythm using their hands and feet. 

Besides being a fun and artistic experience for students, Ortiz hopes that the dance team will serve as an outlet for students to express themselves. In the future, she hopes that the team will continue to expand, travel, and compete in competitions.

“Besides my height,” Ortiz joked, “I have grown in the knowledge of learning how to teach a team of young ladies to get out of their comfort zone and to express themselves. There are stressful moments, but after the long talks and sharing of experiences, I’ve grown to love not only my teammates but everything else that comes with being a captain.”

To see more performances, check out

Central’s Dance Team performances