The group is now preparing for state and national competitions

GRESHAM - The Tigerettes, Tigard High School's varsity dance team, took two first places and one second place at the Gresham Winter Dance Festival held Dec. 2.

The group took first place in jazz with 'Welcome to the Jungle,' first place in kick with 'Song 2' and second place in lyrical with 'Hiding Under Water' in the competition in which 17 teams competed in kick, jazz, lyrical, hip hop and novelty categories.

'I'm really proud of our improvement in projection this week in all three routines,' said coach Laurie Colletta. 'One third of the score sheet is based on projection, and we have struggled with it. We spent the last week and a half learning how to act, to project to an audience. They have a new confidence and ability to engage an audience.'

Out of the 48-member team, 17 Tigerettes were selected to compete for Tigard in an advanced jazz routine to 'Welcome to the Jungle.'

While Tigard does an advanced routine every fall, this year's focus is unique because 'Welcome to the Jungle' was put together to make Tigard competitive on a national level.

As coaches Colletta and Chase Gourley choreographed this routine, coach Dave McCall's roll was to step back and critique it to make sure it was advanced enough to be competitive at the national level.

There had to be enough in this routine to challenge those teams people see on ESPN. The coaches determined the result is ready for the national level.

This routine is very intense and fast paced with advanced moves all the way through, such as triple turns, C pops, straddle jumps, butterflies, ring toss leaps, a la second turns, kicks, leg extensions and shoulder stands.

There are multiple leap sequences and turn sequences including four a la second turns into a double.

'At Tigard we have girls who work and train hard,' said McCall. 'It is good to take them to nationals to recognize them.'

The Tigerettes will be traveling to Los Angeles in March to compete at USA Nationals.

The Gresham event marked the end of the fall dance competition season.

'We've had a lot of wins this fall, and it gives us confidence, but we can't settle where we are,' said senior team captain Lisa Yanagawa. 'We have the potential to do better. We need to work hard, especially on projection, to reach our potential heading to state.'

Head coach Linda Sheron added, 'It's been a great fall season for us. We improve each week and at each competition. We are in a good spot as we turn our attention to this year's state routine and the winter competition season.'

The Tigerettes invite all elementary school kids to come to the annual dance clinic Saturday, Dec. 9, from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the Tigard High small gym.

Girls can come experience the fun of dance with special one-on-one attention from the Tigerettes.

No dance experience is necessary, and people can register at the door. The cost is $15.

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