Canby Cougar Dance Team defends its four consecutive titles in the show division at state March 15-16

COURTESY PHOTO: JENNIFER CHAFFEE - The 2019 Canby Cougar Dance Team is pictured here in their costumes for 'Together. Alone.'

"We want the dancers to feel successful no matter what the end result is. That's what matters."

These are Head Coach Jennifer Chaffee's words as her Canby Cougar Dance Team looks to defend its four-year streak as state champions in the show division at Oregon's 2019 Dance and Drill State Championships this weekend.

The championships take place Friday and Saturday, March 15-16 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum, with Canby performing Saturday after the 4:30 p.m. start-time. Chaffee estimates they'll perform around 7 p.m.

Some may wonder how long the seemingly unstoppable team can keep the streak alive. Chaffee acknowledged it can't go on forever.

"All we ask is that our dancers do their very best, leave it all on the floor and know they danced their hearts out," Chaffee said. "We talk every year about how the bubble will burst eventually. We compete against talented teams."

She added, "It's hard to imagine, but some of these dancers have only ever won first place. It could be pretty emotional if they don't win first, but it won't change how proud we are of them."

COURTESY PHOTO: JENNIFER CHAFFEE - Canby Cougar dancers celebrate first in show at Liberty High School earlier this month.

The team's routine is titled "Together. Alone."

"The dance is about the idea of being together, in a room full of people, and still feeling alone," Chaffee said. "This was something the dancers could relate to."

The routine was built around a couple of sayings: "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones," and "The grass is always greener on the other side." With that in mind, they created a glass house with grass inside to combine the ideas.

It starts with just one dancer in the glass house, wearing yellow. All of the other dancers are outside of the box, wearing blue. Per Chaffee, as the dance progresses, the dancers in blue want to get into the glass house and into yellow. Toward the end, the glass house gets crowded, and one dancer decides that is not where they want to be.

For the first time this year, the music was created exclusively for Canby's team.

"We contacted a music producer in Utah, pitched him our concept and he created an original piece of music just for us," Chaffee said. "It's been an exciting process."

The team performed "Together. Alone." for the first time in-full at a send-off event at Canby High School on March 13, to wild applause and cheers.

In addition to seeking another win in the show division, Chaffee said the team has more to look forward to at state.

"It's an exciting year because our coach and choreographer James Healey has been nominated for the 6A coach of the year and we find out at state if he is the winner of that award," Chaffee said. "We have a dancer receiving a special award from the OSAA and NFHS. So many things to be excited about."

The team is also sending eight dancers to compete in the individual drill down.

Tickets for the state championships can be purchased online, and the event can also be streamed live online from Oregon School Activities Association's website.

Kristen Wohlers
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