The Mahomet-Seymour High School dance team has ridden an incredible two-year wave of success that started with the program’s first-ever IHSA state championship a year ago.
“We are very fortunate to have had two consecutive years of success,” said head coach Mahomet-Seymour dance coach Margaret Miller. “The difference between this year and last year is that last year was so rewarding for our team and our community, while this year we get to share the joy with millions.”
In 2016, the team was strong once again, but fell short of a repeat state title after placing eighth in the IHSA’s Small Division. However, the routine that they used to capture that Top 10 finish has struck a chord with viewers around the world, achieving viral status on the internet.
The dance is unique in that it is not set to music, but rather to a speech entitled "What Are You Afraid Of
" by speaker and author Jon Jorgenson. Team members brought the idea to dance to the speech to Miller, who recognized that merging the speech into a dance would pose several problems (permission from Jorgenson, permission from the musician who provided the soundtrack, editing the speech into the allowable three minute competition timeframe, and choreographing a dance to a piece that has almost no music). However, each potential setback was overcome and the end result was a moving performance.
“The choreography probably took two to three times as long as it normally does,” said Miller. “We wanted every single movement to have meaning because this message really means a lot to my girls and I. We were so honored to dance to it and share it with other people.”
The dance builds to a literal transformation, as the team symbolically switches from black outfits to white outfits mid-performance, and the internal fight that represents fear by two two members in its opening moments is replaced with a hug (start and finish photo above from the team’s state final performance)
by the conclusion.
“It is about how fear holds you down and holds you back. Eliminate fear and it can change your life”, said Miller.
The viral version of the dance from a basketball game performance this season is below: