Operana dances her way through high school

Nora Joy

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Abigail Culcasi

Operana poses in her Fillies uniform ahead of the 2021 dance season.

Senior and Captain Amanda Operana leads the DGS fillies, to their return dancing under the Friday night lights. Operana shared her experience of beginning her dance career in eighth grade to ultimately becoming captain of the varsity dance team at DGS and performing at her first football game since the pandemic began.

“I started dancing only when I was in eighth grade and the first style I learned was pom…I’ve never danced at a studio, I’ve taken classes there but I think I wanted to dance with my school because I wanted to be more involved and I knew it was a great opportunity to make new friends,” Operana said.

Operana’s coach Dawn Jovic weighed in on how coaching Operana is unique from other dancers she had coached in the past.

“Unlike many of my captains over the years, Operana does not have a lot of prior dance training. It has been my pleasure to watch her grow in talent, ability and confidence. I have enjoyed watching her push herself to the next level and am honored to have been a part of that process,” Jovic said.

Junior Hannah Rodeck spoke about how Operana’s limited dance experience before coming into high school has helped her be a more effective captain on their dance team.

“I definitely think that Amanda’s technique is something that sets her apart from the rest. You can tell that it’s not a studio technique, it’s more conditioned to the high school dance team technique which I think is really beneficial for her as a captain because she understands what we’re looking for as a high school team rather than a studio team,” Rodeck said.

Like many other athletes at DGS, Operana’s dance practices this year have brought new challenges due to state mask mandates. Operana shared how she has worked to overcome dancing with these new mandates.

“Obviously this year we have to wear masks during practice which can make it a little tricky especially since a lot of dancing comes through in your face and how you show that so we just have to show a lot more expression through our eyes,” Operana said.

Despite the continued challenges of mask mandates, this year marks the Fillies return to the Friday night lights after a year of the fillies filming their dances due to the pandemic. Operana vocalizes what her emotions were performing at her first football game since her sophomore year.

“It was amazing, I totally forgot how much I loved football season and especially seeing people in the crowds, like I know last year we filmed videos but obviously it isn’t the same because the crowd really cheers me up and gets me pumped to keep dancing,” Operana said.