As the winter season begins, the Cougars state title winning dancers are in fine form

SUBMITTED PHOTO: JENNIFER CHAFFEE - Canby's dance team after their championship winning performance of 'La Foret Mystique,' a recreation of a 1992 routine performed by Grants Pass High School and now-Canby choreographer James Healy.
Coach: Jennifer Chaffee

2017-18: State Champions

Key losses: Amanda Stephens, Josephine Sheveland, Lauren Gerig, Taylor Smith

Key returners: Kaitlyn Sutherland, Kaitlyn VanHoose, Lauren Gile, Yesenia Hernandez Ramirez

Outlook: If past is prologue, Canby's dance team has nothing to worry about. The multiple time state champions began the school year with a plethora of victories at various competitions. Most recently, the team won the large contemporary category, modern, and novelty categories at the Dance and Drill Coaches Association Category Championships at West Linn High School on Saturday, Dec. 1.

In the large contemporary category, Canby performed a routine entitled 'Heaven's Dust,' choreographed by coach James Healy, and it was a performance head coach Jennifer Chaffee was beaming about afterwards.

"Canby danced fifth in the division and gave a solid performance," Chaffee said. "It was the best we have seen them dance this routine all season. They were beautiful and expressive and captivated the audience and judges from start to finish. At the end of round one they announced awards. Out of the eight teams, Canby earned first place and was awarded as the large contemporary champions with a score of 86, the highest score of the Championships overall."

Later that day, Canby also took part in the modern category competition with a routine called 'Pandora's Box' again choreographed by Healy. Canby took first place in that category with a score of 83.3.

"The routine features a black box that floated around the dance floor as the dancers performed, creating interest about what might be in Pandora's Box," Chaffee said. "At the end of the routine one of the dancers slides across the floor and into the box. The team performed this routine so well. It was the sharpest and cleanest we have seen it all season and the coaches were so proud of their performance."

The final category the team competed in was the novelty category, and this particular performance had a special connection to coach and choreographer Healy. The routine was actually a re-creation of a dance routine from 1992 called 'La Foret Mystique,' when Grants Pass High School used it. The routine involves a unicorn, wood nymphs, fire creatures, and a witch.

The connection to Healy? Well, back in 1992 at Grants Pass High School, he played the unicorn.

"To celebrate James' 10th year coaching at Canby we decided to bring this routine back to life," Chaffee said. "James reached out to the original choreographer, Kurt Jull, to ask permission to use his piece and he said yes. The recreation was so fun to do and the team made these characters and this story come to life."

Canby won the novelty category with a score of 82.23, marking the team's first championship in novelty.

Canby has now won first place in all three divisions at three local competitions, and at the championship level, which Chaffee equated to a 12-0 season. As the team begins working on its state routine, it's hard to picture the standout dancers doing anything but getting the gold.

Next Routine: Cougar dancers will be performing at halftime of the 12/19 Trail Blazers-Memphis Grizzlies basketball game.

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