Belton dance team growing bigger as it racks up awards

Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 7:32 PM CDT
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BELTON, Texas (KWTX) - A local elementary school is racking up the awards in competitive dance after a dance team was offered for free to students thanks to the help of teachers volunteering their time after school.

The Pirtle Dance Team at Pirtle Elementary in Belton ISD consists of first through fifth graders who stay after school once a week to practice routines.

It started five years ago with just a handful of students, and has grown this year to a squad of 90 students with 32 on the waiting list.

“I wanted to start the dance team here at Pirtle Elementary because of my love of dance,” said Teacher Amy Martinson is the team’s director and founder.

“I wanted to give this opportunity to kids, so not only they could learn about dance, but also be part of a team, develop friendships while they were here, and also be able to work toward a common goal.”

The team wouldn’t be possible without volunteers leading the charge. The squad has seven volunteer coaches, six of whom are teachers. The other is the daughter of an educator.

Teacher Katie Bastianelli is one of them and says watching the young kids’ progress is fulfilling.

“It’s a pretty amazing thing. Alot of these kids have never danced before in their lives and in the 45 minutes we spend after school they learn this, you would think they are some private dance company when they show up out there,” she said.

And judges are taking note.

The team just competed in the Ascension Dance Competition at Lake Belton High School last week, where it brought home nine awards, including Superior Performance, Best in Class and Judge’s Choice.

“The judges picked only four routines from the entire day!” Bastianelli said.

Student Camille Guilez said she loves being a part of something with her friends.

“I like Pirtle Dance because you get to have fun and compete with your friends,” she said.

“I’ve been in Pirtle Dance team for 3 years,” student Tanner Yandell added. “I’ve never been in a dance group of out school, and I think it’s a really fun opportunity to be with your friends and dance.”

“I’ve been on the Pirtle Dance team for four years and I think it’s just a really fun opportunity to do,” dance member Lucy Gildon said.

The dance group has become so popular that the 90 available spots for the team filled up in the first three minutes of online registration at 7 a.m. this year.

The team is done competing for the season but will have sign ups again at the beginning of next school year.