Columbus High School is hosting its annual “Jam the Gym” event from 2-4 p.m. Sunday in its gymnasium.
The event is designed to showcase local dance talent, from the homestanding Columbus High School Diamond Dancers and other local high school dance teams like Lakeview, Osceola, Shelby-Rising City and Clarkson-Leigh, to college teams like Midland and Doane, to the local dance studios like iDance Project, Lynette’s Dance Studio and Barb’s School of Dance. Admission is $5 for adults and $4 for students.
Kassie Neujahr, coach of the Diamond Dancers, said that the event is a good way to show off what dancers have been learning during the past year. With the state competition coming up for high schools, it can be used as a way to perfect skills just in time.
“It’s a good opportunity for them to perform in front of a large crowd before they go and compete with those routines at the state level,” Neujahr said. “We perform at basketball games, so we use basketball games in order to perform and get ready, but this event has all these people and they’re there to watch us dance. It’s a good opportunity to show these people what we’ve been working on and iron out the kinks.”
Many of the dancers will have a busy day, from the four performances that the Diamond Dancers will participate in, to the other performances that some of them will do with their respective dance studios. Through it all, Neujahr said that they support each other through thick and thin, keeping the team atmosphere even when they perform with rival studios.
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“It’s really cool to see,” Neujahr said. “Even all the other girls and guys on other teams also support each other and cheer each other on. That’s really awesome to see.”
The day will also be a busy one for other CHS groups, as the drumline will do a performance with the Diamond Dancers and a girl/guy dance will close it out. The Diamond Dancers will also host a dance clinic for elementary-aged children that Saturday that will give youngsters a chance to learn dance skills before performing at the event Sunday.
“They come in and they learn a dance routine,” Neujahr said. “They come in, it’s three hours, they dance, they have fun and they get to perform that dance at the very start of the show on Sunday.”
Having been the coach of the Diamond Dancers for the past four years, Neujahr knows that the event is a high-energy experience for those, like her, who love to watch dance. At other competitions, she loves to watch other teams perform, and this event is a good way for her and others to do so without the pressure of having to compete against each other.
“The biggest thing that we want them to take away is just to enjoy the day,” Neujahr said. “I love days where I can just sit and enjoy dance. That’s the thing that I enjoy about watching competitions; it’s seeing what they’ve been working on. The people who come to the event are people who are there supporting their dancers and who enjoy watching dance.”