Marie Calcopietro, 17, stood in the middle of the Batavia High School gym Sunday surrounded by the South Elgin High School dance team. The girls were dressed in black glittery costumes with dark eye shadow and red lips. As they kicked and spun, their faces were full of emotion.
Calcopietro said their lyrical dance number was the team's strongest, and their performance Sunday was the best she had ever seen it. The hope, of course, is that their talent earns them a place at the state team dance competition, but Calcopietro said that's not the most important thing.
"Some teams are here to win," Calcopietro said. "I know our team is here to have fun and please the crowd."
Almost 800 high school performers packed the high school Sunday with parents, siblings and friends to cheer them on during the Batavia Dance Classic. The dance teams came from all over Illinois, performing in categories like pom, hip hop, flag, lyrical, kick, winterguard and open dance.
Lyndsay Meyer graduated from Cary Grove High School in 2007, the first year TEAMDance Illinois got started. She sat in the Batavia gymnasium bleachers Sunday as a judge, using her own performing experience to score the latest generation of dancers.
Meyer said the competitions in January and February are the best to watch because the teams are more polished.
"The teams have really started to buckle down," Meyer said. "They're more clean and bringing more energy."
Two artistic judges and two technical judges scored each performance with an award ceremony ending the competition. The highest ranked teams secured their spaces for the state competition, scheduled for March 4 in Peoria. The rest of the teams will have several more opportunities to qualify in the coming months.
The Geneva High School team won the state competition the last three years. The team performed a lyrical piece as well as one in the open dance category Sunday.
With six new girls on the team and only two who left last year, Amanda Cushnie, 17, said she thinks they have a good shot of keeping to their streak.
"We moved up a division so it's a little bit harder this year but we're hoping," Cushnie said.