- Cleburne High School
Showstoppers Take It All in Dance Competition
Confidence is high among members of the Cleburne High School Showstoppers Dance Team as they travel to Midlothian Saturday for their final contest of the season.
The team lived up to its name, as they stopped the show at the recent Crowd Pleasers Dance Competition, in which they came away with top honors in every category and were named Overall Grand Champions.
Breaking it down, the Showstoppers received 1st place performance honors in Jazz, Kick/Pom and Team Novelty and were the winner in the Medium Team division, and ultimately Overall Grand Champion. In a separate competition for team officers, Cleburne shined just as bright in taking the win in Jazz, Lyrical and Prop performances, Medium Officer division, resulting in Overall Officers Grand Champion.
The 24-member Showstoppers team includes Captain Leslie Armendariz, 1st Lt. Jazmine Martin, Lieutenants Chrysta Hames, Izamar Gomez, Lynetta House and Aida Biden, Chiara Manconi, Chloe Bias, Christi Hames, Cloey Jordan, Emma Dudley, Hailey Iannone, Hallie Fiola, Isabella Fisher, Ja’Kirea Kelley, Jessie May Faulk, Journey Harris, Kaitlyn Tucker, Kenya Johnson, Leighla Diaz, Leslie Martinez, Lexis Brown, Morgan Lanum and Paige Cook.
“I’m still on cloud nine, but the work hasn’t stopped with one more contest to go,” Dance Coach Kayla Bruner said. “However, you have to take time for celebration, and we have done that. Watching them compete, regardless of the outcome, I knew what they did at the Crowd Pleasers contest was the best they had done all year.”
“They gave their all,” Bruner said. “And the judges saw that. It was apparent on the floor. I feel in our performance circle within 8-5A, we’ve been able to hold our own. But to get these honors at this level of competition, including teams larger than ours from larger school districts, is amazing. It feels so good to see this team come together, following the highs and lows and the blood, sweat and tears, and achieve all this.”
Armendariz, who is a four-year member of Showstoppers, said there was some nervousness among team members, in losing two days of practice going into the February 5 contest, due to the cancelation of school because of extreme weather conditions.
“We weren’t sure we were ready,” she said. “You could feel that when we arrived at the competition. But then everyone seemed to settle down. As officers, we went first, and among ourselves, we didn’t feel it was our best performance. But we pushed through to keep team morale and confidence up. Despite our doubts, we were prepared. We stayed together and motivated each other.”
The team captain and CHS senior said energy was high among the Showstoppers as they performed all together, then waited for the final results from judges.
“We felt good about our presentations and everything in general,” she said. “As they began calling out the placement and awards for officers, it seemed they were announcing everyone but us. Then they did call our names and we realized we had won everything in our division and overall. That was exciting, but even more so when we went through the same thing all over again for the team recognition.”
“We knew we had high scores in our routines, but to hear we were Grand Champions as officers and a team—honestly it was so exciting,” Armendariz said. “We’ve never won overall before. I’ve been on the team for four years and this has never happened. We cried and we laughed. It was so nice because everyone else was also excited for us.”
Both the Showstoppers captain and their coach credit the bond within the team as a major factor in the level of performance they have achieved this year—and the accolades that have come with that.
“I feel like what we have been able to achieve is because of the great bond we have as a team,” Armendariz said. “We have all worked at creating relationships as a team, and with each other. Because of that, it has put confidence in everyone—we encourage each other and push each other. We dance strong and constantly remind each other, ‘you’ve got this.’ We do that in practice, in the classes we have together and before we compete. “
“I would have told you, even before we began in August, that this is where we would be,” Bruner said. “They came in ready to work—and ready to raise the bar. This is my sixth year as Showstoppers coach and this group is unlike any other. They have the utmost respect for each other. They support one another so much and are constantly encouraging each other. As a coach I can’t make that happen—it’s all internal.”
She also gives tribute to the leadership of the officers in setting a new standard in performance for the Showstoppers, reflected in the honors they have just received.
“Our officers never rested on who they are as dancers and leaders,” Bruner said. “The team has seen how driven they are to be great dancers, but even more so, to be great people. It’s all been pretty amazing.”