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Pride of the Tide uses tryouts to choose best talent

The Picayune Pride of the Tide dance team held tryouts last week in a multi-day process that honed in on which talented dancers will make the squad.

The team held clinics on May 10, May 11 and May 12 where the attendees were taught several routines.

Then three judges came in from the American All-Star Company to serve as an unbiased panel to observe and evaluate routines and technique.

Each dancer was given an individual score by the judges, then the results were given to the Pride of the Tide Director Mandy Feeley and her staff who were not part of the evaluation process to avoid favoritism.

The group then set about finding where the biggest break in scores were, indicating which dancers were the best, and ended the process with a 16 person squad filled to the brim with talent and experience.

Now that the process is over, the group will have a slight break before summer workouts begin June 1.

The physically taxing nature of dance means that while the training sessions aren’t mandatory, Feeley makes sure her dancers understand the importance of staying in shape in order to perform at the highest level.

The end of June will see the team begin preparing for its December competition when a hired choreographer will come in and teach the squad their competition routine.

Once the dancers have had plenty of time to perfect the choreography, band camp will roll around in late July where the Pride of the Tide will partner up with the color guard and marching band to create an entertaining halftime show for the upcoming football season.

The hectic schedule means there won’t be a lot of down time for the dancers, but after dealing with all of the uncertainty that came with COVID-19 last year, the group is isn’t taking anything for granted.

“Last year we couldn’t set out real expectations for the girls because you may have had some quarantined, or the school may have shut down. There was so much unknown last year, which is what is so exciting about this year. We know competition is on this date and we can set practice schedules right now.”

“They’re still teenagers. They need set schedules and they need to know the coach’s expectations, and for us as adults, we want the same,” Feeley said.

As the unknowns start to fade, the anticipation builds for Feeley and her program.

“I’m very excited about this new team and their dancing abilities. They are very talented young ladies. From 1-16 we have a lot going on. Going forward we can be just as ready as the rest of (the state’s dance teams),” Feeley said.