Hillside High School Dancers prep for new season

Band season is in full swing for many high schools and colleges nationwide, and one Durham band is particularly anxious for the upcoming season. The Hillside High School Marching Band Dancers (“Sparkle”) are ready for the Friday night lights.

Coach Wynn demonstrates movement for the team.

Coach Wynn demonstrates movement for the team. (Staff  photo by Quiani Nzazi)

Students practice about three to four times a week. There’s stand practice where the ladies perform in the bleachers as the football game takes place. There’s also field practice for the halftime performance.

“Practice doesn’t affect my school work at all,” Jazlin Gibson, one of four captains for the squad said. “I get my school work done before practice, we have study hall.”

Practice begins at 4:30 p.m., giving the students two hours to complete assignments.

“I’ve been dancing since I was three years old,” Gibson said. “It’s weird but if I wasn’t dancing I’d be playing basketball.” She laughed.

Dajah Stallings, a sophomore, said she practices every day.

“This is my first marching season,” she said. “It is tough being the only majorette, but I am up for the challenge. I feel like I am obligated to be perfect because I am the only one.”

Captains face more pressure for the game since they lead and must think quickly in order to keep up with the rest of the band.

“We have to practice a lot more than the rest of the squad does,” Gibson said. “We have to make sure we know everything more than they do, so that they can be on top of their game.”

The Sparkle auxiliary squad presents dancers, flag girls, and majorette during each game.

“I never twirled before, and they actually assigned me to majorette two weeks before the first game,” Stalling said. “The pressure was really on.”

Kimberly Wynn is the auxiliary coordinator for the marching band. She is in charge of all three groups and also coaches the dance squad. Wynn is a graduate of Hillside High School. After graduation she attended Winston-Salem State University and became captain of their dance line. She also marched all four years.

“I’ve been dancing since I was about four or five in various studios here in Durham,” Wynn said. “I also danced with the Association of Rhythmic Talent, which is a dance company in Winston-Salem, I did arena football for the Greensboro Revolution. I did semi-pro after that, and from there I danced with the Bellan Contemporary Dance Theater, which is a dance company in Durham.”

The dance line was added to the band in 2008; Wynn began coaching the squad the following year.

“We have great girls and we push them hard,” she said. “I push them to be better than they were yesterday. I’m excited about the upcoming season overall, and I’m looking forward to competition and coming home with those trophies!”