GHS dancers earn landmark honors

Published 5:28 pm Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Even after the conclusion of the school year, the hits just keep coming for the esteemed Greenville High School Marching Band.

Three of its dancers have achieved All-American status courtesy of the Universal Dance Association (UDA).

Hannah Nichols, Erykah Perdue and Qui’ondra Thomas, all of whom will be senior dancers in the fall for Greenville High School, were bestowed All-American status at the conclusion of a rigorous two-day session of performances and routine work.

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Brett Johnson, band director of the Greenville High School Marching Band and founder of the school’s dance program, said that the trio has played a pivotal role in the dance program since he incorporated it into the marching band four years ago.

He added that dancers play an important, if underappreciated, role in reinforcing what the audience hears during a performance. It’s a luxury that viewers of halftime shows take for granted, though it’s an absence that would perhaps be strongly felt if it were to go missing.

If a band’s instruments produce its script, then the dancers are like closed captioning.

“Dancers play a vital role in the imagery of the marching band,” Johnson said. “During our field show, they put the spark in the show, per se.  Their dance moves help portray what the music is trying to be.  It adds a little flavor to the show.  It’s hard to explain, really, but they’re kind of the visual aid for the show.

“In the stands, they’re a visual aid to the band, as well as all of the other auxiliary positions such as the majorettes and the color guard.  They’re all one big, vital part of the marching band.  And every little piece plays an important role in the overall band.”

Nichols, Perdue and Thomas were each chosen based on an assessment conducted by a UDA instructor who traveled to Greenville from Birmingham to teach GHS’s dancers some basic techniques and a pep rally routine.

All-American status is granted based on the instructor’s determination after a pair of grueling days full of work.

“These kids were here for two full days straight learning routines and basics,” Johnson said.  “At the end of those two days, they have a chance to show off what they learned to the UDA teacher who comes in. And then she grades them and makes a determination of All-American status, if there are any who meet those requirements, and we were lucky enough to have three this year.”

For the dancers themselves, the distinction of All-American means much more than a medal.  It represents a lifelong dream.

“Achieving All-American was always a goal of mine since I was in middle school,” said Hannah Nichols.

“Dancing has been a passion of mine since I was a little girl. I will always strive to do better every time I perform on the field along with my wonderful team. I’m so honored to represent GHS along with the two other girls selected to receive this honor.”

Qui’ondra Thomas echoed her band mate’s sentiments, remarking on the fact that the three dancers are the first to achieve such recognition in Greenville High School’s history.

“Ever since I got into dance it has been my dream to attend a UDA Camp and tryout for All American,” Thomas said.

“It is an absolute honor to be a 2017-18 All American Dancer and it is also honor to be part of an amazing team that made history.”