Meet the Richfield Tapaires, a story six decades in the making.

Meet the Richfield Tapaires, a team that won the first State Dance Team Tournament (according to the MSHSL records) and is back in the tournament after 20 years.

The 2018 Richfield Tapaires earn a spot at the State Tournament dancing to "Fire". Photo by Rick Corwine.

Minnesota Dance has a long and storied history.  While there are teams who seem to be always in the mix come the end of the season, there are others who do not have a less consistent record of landing in the big event.  This is a brief story about one such team, a team that won the first state tournament, won a national title in the 1980’s and has not been back to the state tournament in two decades.

For one Metro-West Conference team this has been especially true.  The Richfield Tapaires dance team is one of those teams who helped build Minnesota Dance, but has been absent from the State Tournament for over 20 years.

We caught up with the Tapaires head coach, Arianna Stotz, who filled in some gaps in this great story.

The earliest mention of the team (slide 1), on the Richfield High School site, talks of the team “consisting of some twenty girls” and being organized by Mr. Wesley Kohl (no date).  A few slides later we find, under “Dancing Darlings”, a history of the name “Tapaires is for girls with tap-dancing ability.” Later it mentions there being “11 new girls this year replacing the graduates of 1958.” This means that the Tapaires are celebrating at least their 60th year in existence in 2018!

The Richfield Dance Team won the first ever Minnesota State Dance Team Tournament over four decades ago in 1975.  They won back-to-back tournaments in 1987 and then their last state title in 1988.  Coach Stotz shared with us that the Richfield Dance Team even won the national title in high kick in 1988.

Friday, February 16, three decades after the last state & national titles, the six-member Jazz team is poised to break the drought. In 1992 the team took second place at the State Tournament with 14 members, but it has been more than two decades since the Tapaires qualified for the MSHSL State Dance Tournament.

Over the years the team’s numbers dwindled and in the 2013-14 season the team was ineligible to compete in the Jazz division due to there only being four members of the team.  In the 2017-18 season, their Jazz team consists of six members, captained by Phoebe McCartan.  One third of the team could be considered rookie dancers as far as high school dance is concerned and for just the third year, the Richfield dance team has had enough dancers to compete at two levels (JV and Varsity).

The Tapaires dance to the song Fire, and bright red, rhinestone studded costumes fit the part.  You can see the Richfield Dance Team is scheduled to dance at 12:26 at the State Tournament on, Friday, February 16.

Stay tuned to Minnesota Dance News for more stories and photos from the 2018 MSHSL State Dance Team Tournament.