Senior Bailey Riecker struts into the hip-hop room lined with wooden bars and mirrors and begins to play “Surrender” by Cash Cash.
“5…6…7…,” Riecker says to a group of pre-tween, third grade girls wearing slicked-back low-ponies and size 4 black tap shoes.
During her time on competition team, Riecker was a substitute teacher for hip-hop, lyrical and jazz at Dancerz Unlimited. This is the first year she has had the opportunity to step into her big-girl pointe shoes and teach a class, continuing her dance career after being cut from drill team last year.
Typically, if a girl is cut from drill team, the dancer doesn’t pursue dance after that, according to JV dancer Sarah Grimm. But Riecker still wanted to take part in her life-long passion. For Riecker, teaching is a way she can still dance, but not have the pressure and competitive edge Lancer Dancers brought.
“My favorite part of dance is being able to tell a story,” Riecker said. “And I feel like I don’t need drill team to give me that.”
Since she was three years old, Riecker has always had a passion for the dance floor. After falling in love with ballet and tap, Riecker expanded to other genres such as lyrical and hip-hop. Riecker attributes this love to her mother, Melissa, who danced throughout her childhood and into college.
“I wanted [Bailey] to dance because I know how much I loved it,” Melissa said. “It was always a part of the plan for all of my children to pursue [dance].”
Coming up with choreography, choosing a song and teaching when to point or flex a foot makes Riecker feel like she’s impacting another girl positively. She never wants her students to fall short of their goals.
After having danced for eleven years, Riecker decided to try out for the Lancer Dancer drill team her freshman year. Butterflies flying throughout her entire body, Riecker was determined to show her ability. However, with the amount of girls trying out, Riecker wasn’t able to make the team.
“When I was in middle school, I saw how much the students loved the team,” Riecker said. “I knew I wanted to be cheered on like that one day.”
Even though she couldn’t pursue her dream for the first year of high school, Riecker decided to try out again her sophomore year. Having competed in four years on another competition team, Riecker felt prepared for the challenge. But once again, Riecker was unable to show off the Lancer Dancer uniform.
Even after having her aspirations crushed twice, Riecker decided to try out again for what had been her goal since middle school. The title of being a “Lancer Dancer” was something that she wanted to identify with. After a third round of auditioning, Riecker met her goal of being a Lancer Dancer. Even though she didn’t make the varsity team, Riecker performed on the JV team as the only junior.
The sisterhood of the team is what drove her motivation to audition for her final year of high school. After scanning the list, trying to find her name, Riecker came to discover her name wasn’t on the sheet. She was cut.
“She was a great teammate who was always willing to help and such a fun person to be around,” JV Lancer Dancer Sarah Grimm said. “Dancing is such a huge part of her life, and she realized there is more to dance than drill team.”
For Riecker, teaching youth has given her much more of a sense of accomplishment than the moment she made the drill team. Teaching the girls has been something that has brought her what dance brings her every day – pure joy.
After being cheered on at basketball games and pep assemblies, Riecker fulfilled her dream since middle school. But instead of being cheered on by fellow classmates, she’s being cheered on by parents of the girls she teaches. And for Riecker, that’s more rewarding than any standing ovation in a Lancer Dancer uniform.