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Kentucky dance championships mix the aggressive, artistic

Local dance teams compete at the KHSAA state championship

The 2018 KHSAA State Dance Championships took place at Frederick Douglass High School. Watch Henry Clay perform.
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The 2018 KHSAA State Dance Championships took place at Frederick Douglass High School. Watch Henry Clay perform.

If you’ve ever doubted that dance is a sport, the athletes at the Kentucky State High School Dance Championships would like to dispel that notion.

For the hip hop division dancers, it’s something to be attacked aggressively, precisely and sometimes even with bared teeth, face paint and black lipstick — like the movie “Braveheart,” but with a lot more agility.

The jazz dancers are generally more lyrical and fluid, but listening to their battle cries outside the gym at Frederick Douglass High School, they’re also in it to do battle.

The KHSAA classifies dance as a “sports activity,” not a sport, along with archery, bass fishing, bowling and competitive cheer. But tell that to the dancers who hurtle themselves through the air powered only by their abdominal muscles and personal grit.

For West Jessamine High School coach Erica Pinney, it’s her first year coaching dance. Her teams — she coaches jazz and pom — include her daughter Bethany, a junior.

Pinney was a cheerleader for Lincoln County High School during her high school days. Now, with the help of a choreographer, she’s in charge of the West Jessamine dancers. The 16-member team’s performance season extends from November through February and includes basketball and football games.

“All of a sudden, I was in charge of everything,” Erica Pinney said. “ ... It’s challenging. It’s a lot of time. But the girls are a lot of fun.”

The challenge, she said, is “not to put too much pressure on your daughter because you’re the coach.”

Bethany Pinney said she knew her mom-coach “was going to be hard on me ... but it’s pushed me to be the best version of me as a dancer.”

For final results of the competition, check the Twitter feed at KHSAA.org.

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