Finishing up business: A journey from setback to success


Caitlin Crome

The state dance team is nothing but smiles as the members and coaches pose with their two first place trophies.

Grace Halupnik, Lead Editor

With all eyes watching at the ISDTA state dance competition, the Platinum Dance Team took the stage with one unified thought on their minds: unfinished business. 

Each year, Pleasant Valley’s Platinum sets their sights on the highest achievement possible with the goal of obtaining state titles in both pom and jazz dance categories.  The past four years, however, they have fallen short of this accomplishment.

Last year’s state competition stung especially painfully when Platinum came home completely empty-handed of either dance title.  Worse, they were only short of both by less than a point. “Last year was a tough one to swallow. We were so proud of our performances, but sadly the judges disagreed,” said senior team captain Hannah Lederman.

But instead of letting the results deter their efforts, the disappointment fueled Platinum’s fire. 

“Last year’s results really motivated the team to work our hardest this season to try to accomplish our goal of being double state champs,” said senior Noel Pearson. For Lederman, Pearson and the other senior members, their motivation was all the more charged by the fact that this was their last chance to compete at state. 

This drive for victory manifested itself in the team’s motto for the season: unfinished business. With these two words echoing through each member’s mind, the phrase stood as a constant reminder that last year’s results were not indicative of this season’s. “Finished business to me means that, as a team, we worked as hard as we could to accomplish the goal we set at the beginning of the season,” said Pearson.

Platinum’s goal of success was not evident in just their motto; it was also demonstrated through the time and effort put into each practice. The team practiced and perfected their state dances each week, starting in July. As Lederman put it, “There are no breaks during state season.”

But what made their efforts even more noteworthy was how their motivation never plateaued as in years past. “During the season we normally reach a time where motivation drops, but we made sure to work past it this year,” said Pearson.

Lederman agreed. “It is always hard to stay motivated throughout the season, but we all were so determined this year to prove them wrong that we rose to the challenge and kept our motivation high,” she said. Lederman attributed her ambition to the fact that she had been working toward the goal of double state titles since her freshman year. 

Even the new faces on the team felt the unique energy and drive this season brought. Freshman and first-year varsity member Kylie Crome said, “Our team did not want to settle for just good, so we kept practicing and perfecting our dances.”

Despite the pressure and high expectations of the dancers, the extreme determination and energy put into preparing for the competition meant the team could go into the state performance with a sense of composed confidence. “I was surprised that the atmosphere was actually very calm backstage before we performed,” said Crome. “I could actually enjoy myself for my first experience at state instead of being stressed out.” This made the 2020 state dance competition all the more enjoyable. 

Yet in addition to confidence in their abilities, Platinum needed talent and skill in order to win two state titles. This year, Platinum possessed all three, and they were crowned 2020 Class VI State Champions in both pom and jazz. 

“I was speechless,” described Lederman.  “Accepting those trophies and bringing them back to my team was unimaginable–I am so lucky.” 

The whole team overflowed with emotions as they saw their hard work, effort, and talent come to tangible fruition in front of them. Pearson recalled being “in a state of shock because I couldn’t believe that it had come to the point where we actually accomplished our goal.” She was overwhelmed with the bittersweet feeling of making her last performance with her team her best one. 

The road to Platinum’s success the past four years was not easy, but it was well worth it. The memories and emotions will stay with members of Platinum as well as, more importantly, the lesson that failure is no excuse to quit and can instead be used to fuel success.