Stolen costumes don’t stop Cleveland High dancers

When the car in which the costumes were stored was stolen, just before the state competition, the dance team’s coaches and parents got busy. Learn the rest of the story, here …

The Cleveland dancers show they are “on a mission” to win their championship, by rehearsing for hours on March 13, the day before their competition.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Just a few days before the Cleveland High School dance team’s entry into the state dance competitions, it looked like petty criminals might sink their spirits by stealing some of their costumes.

“My car was stolen,” said the team’s long-time coach and supporter, Ms. Chris Burgess, “right out of my driveway at my home in Gresham. It’s the third time it’s been stolen.”

Gone with her red Toyota Camry hatchback, were 30 ornate dance team headdresses, Burgess reported.

Instead of giving up, parents, sponsors, and coaches worked to reproduce the headgear in a day-long sewing bee on March 8.

Because of their dedicated rehearsal, their dancers placed well in the state dance competitions.

Found: Box of green glittery stuff
But on March 12, Burgess said she got a call from the police saying they had found her car. To make sure it was hers, officers asked her on the phone, “Did you have a box with a lot of green, glittery stuff in it? There’s glitter all over the back.”

Although her car was found a couple of miles from her house relatively undamaged, all of Burgess’ personal items were missing, as was a box containing four brand-new costumes.

“The headdresses added a lot to our intricate dance routine,” Burgess told us just hours before the team headed to the competition being held at Memorial Coliseum on March 14. “We’re going into the competition with two sets of headdresses.”

The situation didn’t seem to faze the dancers as we watched them rehearse their elaborate routine in the Cleveland High gym.

Focusing on their routines, dance coach Chris Burgess gives team members tips on tuning up one of their intricate routines.

‘On a mission’
After the competition, the team’s head coach, Nicole Narong, told us, “We felt great about the performance. We were on a mission to dance and represent our school well. We worked real hard, and all the girls are excited and happy to place in the state competition.”

Three Cleveland high students were among the six finalists in the drill-down, reported Cleveland High’s Assistant to the Principal, Sandee Dressel.

“In the 2008 Dance State Competition, Eilise Ward took first place, Lauren McLeron came in fourth and Brynn Opsahl placed fifth,” Dressel said. “Kendall Udoutch was selected to the 5A All-State team. Cleveland placed 5th in the 5A All-State Large School division.”

“Did the stolen costumes hinder the team?” we asked the coach.

“It was harder on the parents and coaches than on our dancers,” Narong said. “I’m so proud of our dancers. And, I’m thankful to our supporters, who helped out when we really needed them.”

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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