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HighSteppers take the city

Drill team travels to New York City

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Submitted photo.

Submitted photo.

Story by Emily McMaster, staff writer

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In August of last year, the Texas HighSteppers received the news that they would be traveling to New York City on Jan. 13-16 during Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. This would be the first large trip the group has ever taken.

There was a small catch however; each member would be required to be selected by Danceline Elite through an audition process. During the annual line camp in August, members learned and auditioned for a dance in front of two Danceline teachers. Those who were unable to audition submitted an audition video.

Through the process, each member was eventually accepted. Anticipation of the trip soon sparked excitement and planning began. The trip included two dance classes, two broadway shows (“Cats” and “Aladdin: The Musical”) and the rest consisted of completing personal “NYC bucket lists.”

“The main thing on my NYC bucket list was to go view the Statue of Liberty,” sophomore Imari Kelly said. “It is a very famous tourist attraction with many different beautiful stories behind it.”

As the excitement increased, so did the nerves. For many HighSteppers, traveling brought anxiety. For some members, this would not only be their first trip outside Texas and Arkansas, but also be their first airplane ride.

“I was nervous prior to my first plane ride because, unlike a car where you can get out at any time, I was stuck in the air until we landed,” junior Amber Savage said. “It was not an awful experience because of the smooth ride and the nice people, but it did take me some time to get over my anxiety.”

Upon arriving to New York, the team took a bus tour around Manhattan. The ride consisted of learning the history of New York, including the general map and taking quick stops at key locations such as the Statue of Liberty and Times Square.

“Our tour guide was really enthusiastic, knew a lot about New York and gave us great advice such as to never take pictures with the creepy characters along the streets,” junior Sarah Stark said. “I also loved how she came to New York to be an actress, but she had found happiness in showing tourists around the city that she loved.”

After the city tour, the team split into chaperone groups for free time. The goal to mark off everything on each bucket list was started. Broadway shows, carriage rides and the search for the best New York treats were among day one activities.

“The first day my group went shopping in Times Square, and it was really fun because we don’t have most of the stores they have in New York in Texarkana,” freshman Raven Ivory said. “ It is nice getting to go in stores and find quality items that would be hard to find anywhere elsewhere.”

The next two mornings, the HighSteppers attended two Broadway Dance Center master classes. They were taught by multiple teachers who work in the dance industry in New York. The classes allowed the members to strengthen their skills, learn varying dance styles and experience a new environment.

“The dance classes were my favorite part because I love dancing and we got to work with professionals,” sophomore Isabelle Robertson said. “We learned small combinations that taught me how to control my body more, improved my dancing and allowed me to have fun.”

The team also toured Radio City Music Hall on the second day. Personal tour guides gave the history behind the building and a complete rundown of how the stage settings worked. At the conclusion of the tour, a Radio City Rockette took questions from the group.

“For me, the highlight of the Radio City Music Hall tour was seeing the stage,” freshman Madison Bowers said. “I have always tried picturing how big and amazing it is, but until you actually see it, you can never imagine how huge and breathtaking it is.”  

At the end of the second and third days, the HighSteppers went to a group dinner and two Broadway shows. These were one of the most anticipated parts of the trip. A majority of the HighSteppers had never attended a Broadway show.

“Broadway did meet up to my expectations because they were both very impressive and well put together,” senior Leighton Weber said. “In “Cats,” the dancing and costumes were amazing and “Aladdin” consisted of multiple great production numbers.”

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the final destination was the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Nearly half of the HighSteppers were not born during this life-changing event, so hearing the stories of survivors and victims of lost loved ones brought the tragedy to life for many.

“Although I was not alive during 9/11, I could definitely feel the pain and confusion that people around the nation were feeling at that time because of the hands-on experiences throughout the museum, such as the telephones along the walls and the national news playing in the background,” freshman Allie Graves said. “I gained a lot of respect and understanding of 9/11 as I walked through the artifacts left behind from the Twin Towers and of all the ordinary people who passed away.”

Dread of leaving the Big Apple overcame everyone as they boarded the plane back home. After planning the trip for over a year, it was almost over. Although the trip was short, the memories would last a lifetime.

“The memories that we made in this trip will last forever; it’s not everyday that people get to say they went to New York City with over 30 of their best friends,” junior Sophie Lower said. “I was blessed to be able to go and loved growing closer to my sisters on our team.”

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