The Valkyries leap into a new season in second semester


Graphic illustration by Melissa Chen

This school year, despite the lack of performance opportunities during the pandemic and the departure of their coach in July, the Valkyries are entering the second semester optimistic for their new season.

Melissa Chen, Writer

Lynbrook’s competitive dance team, the Valkyries, has always been a widely-anticipated highlight of many Lynbrook rallies and football games. This school year, despite the lack of performance opportunities during the pandemic and the departure of their coach in July, the Valkyries are entering the second semester optimistic for their new season.

Typically, both newcomers and returning dancers audition in April. The team begins practicing for public and school performances over the summer and prepares for competitions as early as October. After finding a coach toward the end of first semester, the Valkyries conducted auditions in late January, many months after their usual starting time. The officers, appointed in July, worked with their new coach, Katherine Labosky, to design a remote audition process. Labosky, a San Jose native, was excited to take an open coaching position in the local area.

“[The officer team has] been so wonderful with helping me transition into the position and maneuver how we can make what the team was prior to COVID safely, going through the different regulations,” Labosky said. 

Typically dancers spend a week auditioning in person for the Valkyries team. This year, however, dancers demonstrated skills, such as leaps and extensions, through video submissions. The January auditions determined the team for this school’s year shorter season, as well as next year’s season.

Even without a team in the first semester, the Valkyries officers found ways to stay active. From September to October, Cupertino High School’s dance team, the Golden Spurs, invited the Valkyries officers and dancers from the previous school year to practice and take master classes with them. These activities were held over Zoom roughly three times a week for about a month, with officers from both teams taking turns leading and teaching dances.

“I decided to participate because I didn’t want to lose my technique, and I thought the practices were a great way to meet other dancers and interact with them a little bit more,” said sophomore Sydney Chao. “These practices were definitely helpful because I got to use my brain again to memorize choreography quickly and get into that habit of dancing again.”

In November, the Valkyries also hosted a virtual dance workshop in which they taught participants one of the team’s favorite routines, “Man’s Not Hot.”

“Dance is a large part of Lynbrook culture, especially with Homecoming being so popular,” Valkyries officer Megan Hong said. “A lot of people who aren’t super serious dancers missed out on an opportunity to just have fun. [The workshop] was a way to advertise for the team and for people who wanted to dance more casually to have the opportunity to.”

Due to the pandemic and the much shorter season, the second semester schedule of  competitions and events is highly tentative. As a result, the Valkyries are taking the opportunity to focus on practices instead. In previous years, practices were often 3 or 4 hours long and consisted of warming up; drilling technique and combinations, with officers offering helpful corrections; and learning and cleaning routines. This year’s online practices will be an hour and a half long, twice a week, and will place more emphasis on conditioning and dancing technique.

 As with most collaborative activities during the pandemic, dancing virtually will be far from normal.

“For the performance aspect [in person], a lot of the energy you get is from the crowd yelling at you and cheering,” Hong said. “I don’t think you can really recreate that at home. I would say the main benefit of dancing in person was the other people. You feel each others’ energy and push each other, even when you’re just practicing.”

Other challenges will include lagging technology, which can make it difficult for dancers to stay in sync with each others’ movements, and the absence of team-bonding time. Traditionally, when the Valkyries team arrived early for practices, they spent time on the balcony outside the studios to talk and get to know each other. However, practicing remotely can come with its own set of benefits, perhaps the greatest being the opportunity for the Valkyries to pursue their passion for dance in whatever capacity they can. 

“In my experience, being able to dance by myself has allowed me to explore my own personal dance style,” Hong said.

The Valkyries are also hoping to hold team bonding activities like virtual escape rooms and are determined to continue adapting in other ways going forward. 

“The team’s been really great about being patient and flexible as we maneuver the changing conditions that surround this season and [that] we’ll have to face in the next season,” Labosky said.