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April 12, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Kylee Tarbox spins around her kitchen island while her four dogs run after her. Her older sister, Leia, looks up from the kitchen table where she is doing homework and smiles. Both are lounging in shorts, tank tops and sweatshirts from dance practice, their hair pulled into clean ponytails.
Leia, 16, is currently a junior at Rock Bridge High School and was one of three captains last year for the dance team, the Bruin Girls. On April 9, 27 girls, including Leia and Kylee, began a three-day clinic to polish their technique. Today, they will perform a pom routine to “Starship” by Nicki Minaj and a jazz routine to “Turn Up The Music” by Chris Brown in front of a panel of judges.
Juniors don’t usually get to serve as team captains, but when Leia auditioned for her second year on the team in 2011, she was nominated for the position by her fellow teammates because of her natural leadership.
Her 14-year-old sister, Kylee, an eighth-grader at Jefferson Junior High School, auditioned for her first time today.
It was easy to spot the 12 newcomers to the process. They were quiet, and their
faces showed their nerves. One of these girls was Rachel Forrest, also an eighth-grader at Jefferson and Kylee’s good friend.
Forrest takes three classes a week at Columbia Performing Arts Centre: tap, jazz and ballet. She has been dancing since she was 5 years old but says she knew dancing was something she wanted to pursue at 7 years old when she found herself constantly excited for the start of class and reluctant to leave once it was finished.
The troupe’s routines incorporate three different kinds of dance, including hip-hop, pom and jazz. Forrest says jazz is her preferred style because of the variety in that style. Some of the team’s dances also include Rockette-style kicklines.
The Tarbox girls also have their favorites. Leia prefers pom, which is when the girls use green and gold sparkly pompoms because it’s a sharper style and every movement has a place and purpose. Kylee prefers hip-hop because it allows for freer movement so she can be expressive.
They agree with good-natured jabs that their favorite styles mirror their personalities. “I’m probably cooler than her,” Kylee says with a laugh.
Members of the squad aren’t allowed to be on the cheerleading team or in any other group that might interfere with the practice schedule. They must attend three to four practices every week in addition to performing at football games, basketball games and their own dance competitions. Leia says the requirements are strict but
“You’re only as strong as your weakest link,” Leia says. “If one person’s missing, you don’t know what the formations look like.”
Tomorrow afternoon, a list will be posted with the names of the girls who will get to wear the Bruin Girls’ green and gold uniforms and be part of next year’s dance
“Everyone is there to support each other,” Kylee says. “If you mess up, they’re there to lift you up.”