Tualatin High MODAZ takes fourth at state dance championships

The team and coaches are thrilled with the highest ranking the dancers have ever achieved at state
by: Janet Johnson, LIGHT ON THEIR FEET – Members of Tualatin High School’s MODAZ dance team performing at the state championships include (from left) Richelle Olson, Brittany Scott, Casey Johnson, Megan Hutchinson and Elisabeth Kornberg.

The Tualatin High School MODAZ dance team is celebrating this week like no other time in its history - the dancers took fourth place Saturday in the 6A Large Division at the 2007 OSAA/US Bank/Les Schwab Tires Dance and Drill State Championships.

'This is the highest we've ever placed,' said assistant coach Christie Rivas. 'It's phenomenal.'

Based on the Phil Collins-off-Broadway version of 'Tarzan,' the group's theme obviously pleased the judges, who scored the dancers based in their performances to the lyrical 'You'll Be In My Heart,' the upbeat jazz 'Trashin' the Camp' and the jazzy 'Son of Man.'

The competition didn't start off well for the MODAZ dancers on Friday, as some of their parents and their special guest, Kathleen Hatch Monteleone from the NBC reality show, 'Grease: You're the One That I Want,' didn't make it to Memorial Coliseum in Portland in time for their performance due to major tie-ups on the metro freeways.

Monteleone is the sister of MODAZ head coach Sarah Jakubowski, and together they choreographed the team's state competition routine and worked with the dancers in January when Monteleone was visiting Oregon for two weeks.

'The girls were devastated that their parents couldn't be there Friday,' Rivas said. 'It took some of them two hours to get there. Some of the grandparents had come into town just to see the dancing, and they missed it too.'

Luckily, MODAZ had pre-qualified for the finals on Saturday, although the judges did score their Friday night performance.

Everyone was there Saturday for the performance that really counted - performing for the state championship title.

'Kathleen was with us beforehand to inspire us,' Rivas said. 'Kathleen gave them a pep talk and hung out all day with the girls. And she helped them with their make-up and hair. It took us twice as long to get around, because everyone kept stopping her.

'When it came time for the performance, the girls were phenomenal. They put everything into it. They just shined. They looked gorgeous when they danced.'

Watching the routine was especially meaningful for Monteleone because of working with the team in January, according to Rivas.

'She started the routine rolling and was so impressed with how they had worked on it and improved on it and carried it out with Sarah,' she said. 'It was fun for her to see the competition and for her just to be there.'

Back at TuHS around midnight when the team returned and their excited parents were waiting to greet them, pandemonium broke loose.

'The parents were screaming and yelling and jumping,' Rivas said. 'It was a fun, long day.'

The exciting news was announced at TuHS on Monday, and plans were in the works for an all-school assembly for the trophy MODAZ won to be presented to the school.

At the state competition, Lincoln High School took first, Tigard High School took second, and Lake Oswego High School took third.

'Grease' performer helps MODAZ at state finals

When Kathleen Hatch Monteleone wakes up every morning, she has to remember which city she is in.

The 2001 Tigard High School graduate was a finalist on the NBC reality series, 'Grease: You're The One That I Want,' until she was recently voted off.

Monteleone and her husband Frank are based in New York City, where she graduated from Marymount Manhattan College in 2005.

During the time she was competing to be one of the six female finalists for the 'Grease' show and then appearing live on the program, the Monteleones settled in Los Angeles.

In January, Kathleen spent two weeks in Tualatin choreographing the state routine for Tualatin High School's MODAZ dance team with her sister, Sarah Jakubowski, who is the team's head coach.

And Kathleen was back this past weekend to cheer on MODAZ as the team took fourth place for the first time at the OSAA Dance and Drill State Championships.

'Now I'm figuring out the next step to take,' Kathleen said last week before the championships. 'Being on 'Grease' completely helped my career. I've been speaking with agents. I've feel like my career has moved forward years in the past couple months. And I've only been off the show for a week.'

Monteleone, 23, has taken years of voice, dance and acting lessons, and her ultimate goal is to perform on Broadway 'night in and night out.'

'I've auditioned for a Broadway show,' she said. 'Being on 'Grease' has opened doors for me. The show definitely helped me. I've been preparing for this for years.'

Monteleone earned her Actors' Equity card after appearing in the play, 'Into the Woods,' and her first audition was for the chorus of the revival of 'Grease' in September.

'Then they asked me to audition for the (lead role) of Sandy,' she said. 'The auditions were like being on 'American Idol,' and from there, things just kept rolling. They sent us to 'Grease Academy' in LA, which was an intensive week of training.'

The contestants were narrowed down to 24 and finally 12 - six women and six men - in January.

'When I came (to Tualatin) in January, I knew I was a finalist, but I couldn't say anything to anybody,' Kathleen said. 'But I was very excited to be coming.'

As for 'Grease,' Kathleen hinted that audiences haven't seen the last of her and may see her again in the show's finale, set for March 25.

'Being on the show and then leaving was actually good timing,' she said. 'The most valuable thing I got out of it was the relationships I've developed.'