Jamestown Sophistikix welcoming, developing all levels of talent
The Sophistikix has graduated three to the collegiate dance level. They also welcome back 20 dancers to the team this year.
JAMESTOWN — How long does it take to learn a 2-minute dance routine?
For Julia Freiz and the Jamestown High School Sophistikix Dance Team, it only takes a modest 8 hours.
"It's kind of crazy," Freiz said. "It's a 1-minute, 58-second jam-packed routine that we learn in one day."
While the season does not officially begin until November, the Sophistikix start practicing as early as July.
The preseason then lasts from July to November, during which time the team will perform at pep rallies, football games, basketball games and assemblies in an effort to perfect their routines as best as they can.
Freiz has been coaching and dancing competitively for the past 15 years. She attended Southern Utah University where she earned a degree in dance education, kick-starting her career of teaching dance at various studios in Southern Utah.
Freiz then moved to the East Coast, where she taught for about two years before she and her husband moved to North Dakota. Freiz is entering her second year of coaching the Sophistikix team.
"I love it here, it is so much fun," Freiz said. "It's a really nice community — everyone is really supportive and inclusive. I've noticed that when we've had our invites and asked for sponsors. It's really nice to have that community support as well."
The sport of competitive dance is not sanctioned by the North Dakota High School Activities Association but the team competes under the North Dakota Dance and Drill Association.
"We're still considered the high school team so we represent Jamestown High School and the athletics department but our competitions go through NDDDA," Freiz said. "We compete against other Class A high schools like Bismarck High, Century, Legacy, Fargo and Williston."
Freiz said the Sophistikix's season runs from November through January and within that span of eight to nine weeks, the team usually attends around seven competitions.
"They last pretty much all day," Freiz said of the competitions. "There are four categories — jazz, kick, pom and hip-hop and we compete in all four."
Practice sessions following the learning of the routine usually last 90 minutes to 2 hours five days per week. The squad practices in the space over Club 1883.
In past seasons, Freiz said the Sophistikix have had anywhere from 12 to 15 girls on the roster at one time. This preseason, there are 20 dancers who have come out for the team — 10 who make up the junior varsity team while the other 10 are on the varsity squad.
While the team has historically been made up of women dancers, Freiz said this year the team has welcomed two male dancers to the varsity team.
Typically, those who have joined the Sophistikix have been dancing at some level most of their lives, but Freiz said she has welcomed a number of dancers who have not had any prior experience.
"This program has so much potential," Freiz said. "I just want the love of the art of dance to grow. That's my biggest goal.
"The fact that I have new dancers this year who have never danced before, who have no background but they are willing to take a chance is just awesome," she said. "They are eager to learn and I am eager to teach."
While Freiz is busy teaching the Sophistikix newbies the basics, three former dancers have gone on to commit to collegiate level dancing.
Mya Henderson was chosen as an All-American by the Universal Dance Association (UDA). The former Sophistikix captain is moving on to dance at North Dakota State University to continue her career.
Henderson has been dancing since she was 3 years old and began dancing with the Sophistikix when she was in eighth grade.
"The best part about competing in high school was seeing how much improvement we could make in short periods of time," Henderson said. "It brought all of us girls closer together since we all had the same goals in mind. I am very thankful that I got to be a part of the Sophistikix dance team for the past five years and I will always cheer them on."
Adele Kennison was co-captain with Henderson. She was also chosen as an All-American and is planning to go on to dance at the Minnesota State University Moorhead this fall. She will move to Moorhead State on Aug. 18, and the team will begin competing Jan. 5.
"The reason I decided to pursue dance in college is because I love to perform and I wanted to continue doing that and the Moorhead dance team is a great place to continue learning," Kennison said. "As for the future I'm super excited to see where the Dragon dance team takes me and to go with them to nationals for the first time and hopefully get to compete."
Emily Ament is the third former member of the Sophistikixs to take her talents to the collegiate level. Ament is planning on dancing at the University of North Dakota.
"Two out of the three of them were like, 'I'm not dancing in college,' and then as the season progressed and they made more connections, they kind of found a new love for it," Freiz said. "At the end of the season, they kind of surprised us all and told us they were going to audition."
Freiz said the three JHS grads asked her to help them out with some techniques and one-on-one coaching to get them prepared for the audition.
All three then took an open workshop with their school of choice where they dedicated 8 hours of time to learning how the collegiate team works, what game-day routines look like, the fight-song routine, technique and different genres of dance.
After the open workshop, all three went back and auditioned for the team privately.
"I knew that I wasn’t quite ready to be done dancing and NDSU has an amazing dance program," Henderson said. "I am most excited to make new friendships and really see how much I can grow as an individual when competing at a much higher level."
During Henderson's audition, she said the team learned many different dances and skills. After the skills portion, Henderson said there was an interview with the coaches so they could ask her questions and talk about what the team is like.
Henderson is already in Fargo as the team has summer practices. On Aug. 3, the Bison took off for a UDA camp in Wisconsin Dells. Many of of the team's competitions are in December and January which leads up to the UDA national competition in Orlando, Florida.
While those three are making their way to their respective colleges, Freiz and the Sophistikix team will be practicing through the summer and fall months to be fully prepared to better their top five finish at the 2022 State Dance Competition.
But that can only be done through the support of the community.
Friez said the Sophistikix are always looking for ways to be involved in supporting the community and hope they can garner some more support for the program in return this season.
"Please come watch us, come support us, come watch us dance at our invites and at football games," Freiz said. "Please help this program continue to grow."