Program prepares kids for high school dance teams

Builds skill, character and a sense of team pride

BY Chris Dillmann – SUN NEWSPAPERS

A new program is coming to the South Lake area for those interested in competitive dance. It is designed to improve skills, confidence and self-worth when students are preparing for competition dance at the high school level and beyond.

The Just for Kix dance program is being offered at the Southshore Community Center in Shorewood by Minnetonka Performance Dance coach Kelsey Vercruysse. The program is for girls and boys three-years-old through high school seniors and specifically focuses on High Kick dance.

“It’s to help them learn the skills the need for high school dance teams,” Vercruysse said.

Classes begin Oct. 1, and an open house is 4-7 p.m., Sept. 27, offering an opportunity to meet Vercruysse and learn about the programs. Just for Kix welcomes any skill levels with no tryouts. Yet, Vercruysse says it is designed for those interested in pursuing the sport of dance.

“It’s very time-consumed with skills they need to succeed in high school,” Vercruysse said. “I don’t waste a minute of their time.”

To prepare them for high school dance by working close with Competition Dance at Minnetonka, the program is a feeder program to help give the skills at an early age so they are ready to compete at a high level in high school.

“I’ve done my research with the need for a high kick program and work really well with the competitive coach for the need to get that feeder program established in Minnetonka.” Vercruysse said. “We want to make it full-circle and build the program.”

Minnetonka Competition dance coach Mary Susan Gerber says a program like this will help establish a sense of unity on what the students learn to better benefit them in high school.

“It has the potential to be a very strong feeder program for the Minnetonka dance teams,” Gerber said.

The two have been working together to make sure the two school teams are cohesive and work together so both teams can build on each other, Gerber said.

Along with building strength, cardio and flexibility, the program also helps build a sense of character, self-esteem and the ability to work well as a team by making new friends.

“It helps them just be active as young kids,” Vercruysse said. “Dance in general as I’ve seen it throughout the years really helps girls stay focused.”

Helping with time management and keeping kids out of trouble, the programs are demanding, but the rewards are high.

“If you’re a part of it you have to stick to it, practice and get good grades,” Vercruysse said. “We can start teaching that from a very young age.”

It also helps build a sense of community.

“It’s a great way to get established with the dancers and their families, and teach them the understanding of what it takes to go on to high school and college dance teams,” Vercruysse said.

The coaches agree that starting kids in a youth program strengthens the concept of working together and building a unified dance team. Getting youth into an activity that focuses them and having the extra responsibility that comes with will help in the overall development of their character, builds pride in their team and a sense of community.

For Minnetonka High School senior and captain of the competition dance team, Alexa Boderman, who has participated in Just for Kix, it was a learning experience.

“You learn a lot of techniques and really focus on the problems to see where your weak spot is and really focus on what to work on,” Boderman said. “It really helps bring ideas to the team to help you grow as a personal dancer, and as a team.”

By building that sense of team pride, Boderman says it helped her learn different ways to help motivate some of the younger girls to build the team stronger.

“They (younger team members) look to us, and leaving a legacy is really important,” Boderman said. “I really love helping out the team.”

Parent of two dancers who have gone through the program and been part of Minnetonka’s teams, Lizz Trach of Minnetonka, says it comes down to who is teaching the kids.

“The way Kelsey teaches kids is unique, so it’s not about you’re doing things wrong but how to improve the things you’re already doing,” Trach said.

By showing instead of simply instructing, Trach says the program really helps the kids succeed.

“It allows new dancers to succeed and existing dancers, particularly captains, to showcase their leadership,” Trach said.

Also recognizing it as a phenomenal feeder system she says, as the program becomes more established in the area the talent pool will be brought up considerably.

“It will better enhance the dance team because they already have the skills already built,” Trach said. “What she is doing is she is helping build the foundation for all the western suburb dance teams.”

For more information, visit and find Minnetonka’s programs.