<p></p><p>Synchronized moves mesmerized fans as the Grant Union dancers performed at halftime during the boys varsity game last Friday.</p>

JOHN DAY – Shannon Adair, in her 16th season of coaching the Grant Union Gold Dancers, has had record turnouts this year as the successful dance program continues to grow.

“I love to see the program growing,” said Adair. “I love to see so many kids join and compete at the state level.”

Once a Gold Dancer herself, Adair and her former student Lacey Powell are enjoying the challenge of training more than 20 dancers this season. Adair, who owns the Body Fitness and Dance Studio, and Powell create their own choreography, costumes and music.

“We do our best to treat each dancer individually – to meet their individual needs,” said Adair. “It takes a lot of prepartation time.”

With four seniors, many returning upperclassmen, and lots of new younger dancers, the program looks to grow even beyond the coaches’ expectations.

Learning five or six new routines a year, most of the Gold Dancers start practicing in September and compete until March.

With five state titles, three girls selected for the All-State Dance Team, and Adair nominated for Coach of the Year three times, the Gold Dancers are one of three teams selected from all of the schools in Oregon to compete in the State Dance Championships each year.

“Dance has drastically changed over the years,” said Adair. Adair said dance was less complex in the past, when most teams would copy a few popular moves from MTV, pick some random music, throw together a routine and put on their biggest smiles.

Today, she said, dance has evolved into a more creative and technically difficult sport.

Adair and Powell said dancers have layers leading to success. They not only have to be physically fit and smart, as in most sports, they also have to be able to connect to music and express a particular feeling or theme to an audience.

Aided by dramatic makeup and costumes, the dancers portray emotions through a variety of routines from sad and serious to energetic and contemporary themes.

At the state competitions at Memorial Collesium in Portland, the judges sit halfway up in the stands, so the dancers amplify their artistic talents with bold makeup to make sure their expressions are visible from afar.

The Gold Dancers will take the stage Jan. 25-26 at the Sheldon Competition in Eugene, starting at 9 a.m.

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