Five years ago Prairie High School didn’t have a dance team; last weekend they competed in two events at the Dance/Drill State Championship in Yakima after fielding a team of 30 girls.
The program’s rise to relevance is thanks to coach Jessica Brown.
Brown was once a Falcon dancer herself, graduating from Prairie High School 11 years ago. When she moved back after college she discovered that the program folded a few years after she left.
That didn’t sit well with her.
Brown, who teaches in the Battle Ground school district, approached the administration and they gave her the green light to fire the program back up.
Things didn’t exactly pick up right where Brown had left them a decade ago. For the first two years, she had less than 10 students participate in each season. But she kept plugging away and by the third year, her dance team began to pick up momentum. Last year they began participating in competitions and took a team to state.
“Our program is still very much in the building stages, but in the last two years we’ve seen a huge turnaround,” Brown said.
WIAA modified the scoring system this year, making it more difficult to qualify for state. The Falcons still managed to qualify in two categories, with mostly freshman nonetheless. Among 3A schools, the Falcons placed 6th in the “Dance” category, a more contemporary style, and 11th in “Hip Hop.” The Falcons’ hip hop routine was set to a Bruno Mars mashup and their contemporary dance to OneRepublic’s “I Lived.”
Although she admittedly had some doubts over the last four years, Brown said she feels “fantastic” about what the program has become and attributes much of its success to the dancers being ambassadors at school every day.
“Really, it comes from the dancers that are on the team,” she said. “They’re the ones that have to speak out and tell people about their experience and tell people what we stand for. I’m definitely super proud of the direction it has gone and I can only see us going up, and up and up.”
As an all-encompassing experience, Brown said students will carry fond memories away from their time as a Falcon dancer.
“We really promote a family-like atmosphere,” she explained. “So many of our dancers have said that they love the family that we’ve created. They love that they can depend on each other.”