Minnesota’s high school competitive dance program is one of the best in the country. The dance team members from 14 Twin Cities metro area schools got their moment to shine when they were asked to take part in the Super Bowl LII halftime show put on by Justin Timberlake.
Many of the participants have been dancing their whole life, and Minnesota’s dance community has a great support system for bring these young dancers up. Minnesota has a long-standing tradition of not only considering dance for the art of it, but promoting dance as a sport, this culture dates back into the 1970’s, before dance many of the big dance competitions that we see today.
Larkin Dance Studios came to prominence in the summer of 2017 when Eva Igo, a 14 year old Larkin dancer blew the minds of the judges and placed second in the worldwide dance competition World of Dance. Later came Taylor Sieve, a recent high school graduate from Maple Grove, who placed fourth in So You Think You Can Dance.
Those connected to the Minnesota Dance community have all known about the athleticism and been wowed by the acrobatic feats of skillfully choreographed chaos that can be a high school dance team performance. These high school dancers were in the spotlight and fit right in alongside the Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders on the largest stage imaginable, the Super Bowl LII halftime show and were joined by local college and studio dancers on the field at halftime. Justin Timberlake, who headlined the Super Bowl LII halftime performance, was reportedly very impressed with the level of talent Minnesota’s dance community was able to pull together in a very short time.
So how does something like this come about? We reached out to the Alyse Iorio, a coach with the Wayzata Dance Team to get some background on the event. The short answer is that there were many who were instrumental in pulling a performance of this magnitude off, but one has been behind the scenes, pushing Minnesota Dance to be recognized as a sport for over four decades and wouldn’t you know, she had a hand in this great event coming together.
Have something to add to this story?
Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Wayzata head coach Leslie Swiggum, has been a fixture in the dance community for over 40 years, helping to start the Minnesota Association of Dance Team Coaches (MADT) and serving on their board until last year. She was also instrumental in the inclusion of competitive dance at the Minnesota State High School League, solidifying dance as an official sport in Minnesota.
Swiggum has been the head coach of the Wayzata Dance Team since 1975 and has led her team to the State Tournament in every year since 1978, that means she has had a team in the state high school tournament in five decades, the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 2000’s and 2010’s! Her legacy extends far beyond the Wayzata Dance Team record as many of her dancers are now coaching dance teams in Minnesota, including the co-head coach at Wayzata, Alyse Iorio, who came back to coach the Wayzata Dance Team after graduating (and dancing) from the University of Wisconsin.
Last May, Coach Swiggum reached out to a former dancer, Kristen Patterson “KP” Terry from Tall Orders Productions, to see if she would need any assistance with the Super Bowl shows. Terry, who has contributed to Olympic opening ceremonies and “nineteen Super Bowl Half-time shows” knew Coach Swiggum from her high school dancing years as well as several projects that the two have worked on several since the mid-1990’s.
The connection paid off with “the artist” (later revealed as Justin Timberlake) and his artistic crew, at the urging of Terry, agreed to review some tape from some of Minnesota’s high school dance teams…they was impressed. A list of groups fitting their requirements were arranged and invited, and the rest is history.
The three captains of the Wayzata Dance Team, along with representatives from Eastview and Lakeville North were also selected to participate in the pre-game ceremonies as flag holders. Kaitlyn Dipasupil, a captain for the Wayzata Dance Team said, “I am so thankful for the opportunity to perform in the SBLII Halftime Show! It was so fun to spend time with my teammates, other dance teams and of course, JT! Game day was crazy fun and I will never forget it!”
High School Teams
Click on a team name to see coverage of that team on Minnesota Dance News
|Lakeville North||Lakeville South||Maple Grove|
|Spring Lake Park||Wayzata|
Other teams participating
|Crash Dance Productions||Just For Kix Staff|
|Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders||QC Royals|
|University of Minnesota Premiere Dance Team|
|St. Thomas Dance Team||Shape Shifters|
|University of Minnesota Marching Band|
Stay tuned to learn the participating dancers’ schedules as they learned the formations and choreography required to support a production like the Super Bowl halftime show.
Our friend, Adam Bettcher from kindly shared some of his Super Bowl halftime photos with us. Please follow Adam on Instagram…you will not be disappointed, he is one of our favorite photographers and an awesome guy on top of it. Thank you Adam for sharing your photos.