Photo archive (partial)

Buy prints, downloads, or license images from our archives:

OSAA State Dance Competition Saturday, March 17, 2007

Kara Burns of Hermiston's Stardust dance team applies false eyelashes in preparation for the state dance competition Friday night in Portland. The team qualified for Saturday night's final round.

Ahhh, the wonderful life of a photographer. What could be better than watching clutches of nubile young girls in skin-tight outfits through a telephoto lens, as they shimmy and shake in sync on the hardwood?

That's the good part. But remember that at least half of t
he job is completed backstage.

Backstage at Memorial Coliseum is your typical web of unadorned concrete hallways. Remember, again, that these are teenage girls.* When they are excited—or trying to get themselves excited—they scream. They scream when they are psyching themselves up for their perform
ance. They scream when they finish their performance. They scream when they finish screaming. And the bunker below the stands seems specifically designed to focus and amplify high-frequency sound waves.

I got used to it after a while, but perhaps I just went deaf.

Amanda Rinehart (center) gives a pep talk to the members of Pendleton's Rhythmic Mode dance team before their preliminary performance at the state dance competition Mar. 16, 2007, in Portland. "This is the second-last time we perform this routine," she said. The team qualified for the final round of competition Mar. 17.

I photographed the Hermiston and Pendleton teams for the East Oregonian (again tonight, too). They were looking for action shots of the performances, but—aural assaults notwithstanding—I think my best shots of the night came from backstage.

Pendleton faced some serious challenges coming into the competition. In separate incidents, two of their senior dancers had emergency surgery in the last week—one gall bladder and one appendix. The remaining girls had to adjust their routine to fill in the holes. Emily Umbarger (right) had her gall bladder removed on Wednesday, then boarded the team bus Thursday for the 200-mile journey to Portland. I'm not sure whether Heidi Cupp, who had her appendix removed last Saturday, made the trip.

*(Yes, there are a handful of male participants, but something less than 2% of the hundreds of dancers.)

(below) The girls are more flexible than the average North American, even me.


Anonymous said...

Heidi was able to attend the competition both nights, and she also rode the bus with the team.