Bonac Dance Force Has Strong 1st Showing at Dance Competition

A team of 29 years took part in the Long Island Kickline Association competition for the first time on Sunday.

The Bonac Dance Force after competing over the weekend. Credit: Courtesy of EHHS
The Bonac Dance Force after competing over the weekend. Credit: Courtesy of EHHS
For its first competition, East Hampton High School's Bonac Dance Force showed dancers across Long Island that they can pirouette with the best of them.

The 29-girl team, which only recently formed, placed third in the Long Island Kickline Association show on Sunday at Uniondale High School. They performed a jazz piece in the dance category.

Tracee Van Brunt, a Spanish and English As a Second Language teacher at middle and high schools, said she was the most proud coach on the sidelines because the girls danced so well their first time out on a competitive dance floor.

"This was the first time we ever went to the L.I.K.A. dance competition," Van Brunt said. For many of the girls, this was also their first year dancing at all. 

However, the Bonac Dance Force formed out of the longstanding Bonac Dance Company, which consists of 60 students — both boys and girls — at the high school, taught by Andrea Hernedez and Lea Bryant. Other than a showcase at the end of the year, the company did not compete.

"Basically, we just wanted to take the kids to the next level," Van Brunt said. "We wanted to show other schools on Long Island that we have a strong program and we thought the girls were ready." 

While the Bonac Dance Force previously went to a studio-based competition, StarQuest, their coach said it didn't suit them because it is geared more for those who dance more frequently than school groups do.

"L.I.K.A. is definitely a better fit for us," she said. According to its website, the Kickline Association is a non-profit organization that offers competition experience for kick, dance, pom and hip-hop dancers.

The Bonac Dance Force, which is considered a club, practices three to six times a week. "We put in a lot more time than a normal club would," she said. 

The team has two more competitions coming up, both in January. Championships are held in February, though Van Brunt, a lifelong dancer who also teaches at dancehampton in East Hampton, said it could be "a long reach" given the infancy of the competition program. "But, we'd be happy to compete in it!"

Van Brunt said the popularity at the high school has grown in recent years. Four years ago, soon after she joined the district, a dance group at the middle school began. "It's been a great filter program for the high school."

"We let everybody join," she said, adding that some students receive Special Ed services and some have even come with translators. "We have a great group of students." 
Valerie Bates December 18, 2013 at 03:27 PM
So proud of you all!


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