Punctuating their performances with straddles in the air, C-jumps and turns as if they were dancing on ice, the Mirage Dance Team from Moriarty High School has been performing for audiences across the state. Mirage competed in the State Dance and Cheer Spirit Competition at the Pit on April 1-2 and three other performances before that.

“Really though, everything we do during year counts for much more than our two minutes and thirty seconds on the competition floor,” said the team’s coach, Tana Chavez. “I am so proud of this team and all the ways they have grown, both in dance and as people.”

Linda Apodoca, the MHS administrative assistant in Athletics, sees the Mirage team as a valuable asset both to the school and the community.

“Other sports teams have seasons that last about three months, but our dance team works all year long and supports every other team on campus,” Apodoca said. “They perform at all home games for football, volleyball and basketball as well as at every open house and pep rally. They clean up the gym after games and have a great work ethic. They have performed at community events whenever they are asked.”

legs

Back row, Coach Tana Chavez, dancer J.P. Griego, and assistant coach Megan Trujillo; front row, Brigit Brown, Selena West, Capt. Michaela Gonzales, Marilyn Upchurch, Alexis Flores, Courtney Young. The team relaxing after performing at the Pit April 2. Photo by Judith Costello.

J.P. Griego, a junior, became the first male dancer in the team’s 14 year history under Chavez. He said the state jazz routine was a big highlight for him. That routine was choreographed by former Mirage Dancer, Tyla London, who went on from Mirage to become a semi-pro dancer. The routine tells the story of strained relationships and coming together again.

The four veteran performers are Marilyn Upchurch, a sophomore, Selena West and Brigit Brown, who are juniors, and Michaela Gonzales, who will graduate this year. Alexis Flores, a freshman, is the seventh member of the team. Team Captain Gonzales said, “The highlight for me has been that we have challenged ourselves to learn new skills and make the most of only having seven members this year.”

Their effort paid off. Mirage took first place at the University of New Mexico Invitational Competition in February for the Small Team Pom Routine, and first place at the Española Dance Competition in March.

The team also performed at the state basketball Halftime Hoorah Competition, taking fifth place while competing against 5A and 6A schools. At the state competition Mirage was ranked eighth.

“We have a small and fairly young team, with some who were new to dance when they joined. So their work, to be able to compete effectively against big, studio-trained teams, is truly remarkable,” Chavez said.

The Mirage dance year now begins again with open gym times for new members to come and test out their interest. Alexis Flores had no previous dance experience when she came to the team. She said, “It was a bit overwhelming when I started, but the team is very supportive and we bonded quickly. Now I know how important this is to me.”

Questions about joining the team can be addressed to Tana Chavez at 505-220-6023.

Leota Harriman
Leota Harriman

Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at news.ind.editor@gmail.com.