BHS dance team captures third straight conference crown

By Mike Ramczyk


Winning conference is becoming a trend with the Burlington High School Dance team.

And the funny thing is that up until 2019, the Lady Demons had never even won a Southern Lakes Conference championship.

Those days are long gone, thanks to head coach Ashley Schilleman, senior captain Katie Rummler and a stellar group of girls that competes all over the state and has won either first or second place at all of their competitions this season.

According to Schilleman, every single girl on the floor matters, and all it takes is one slip up to lose points or fall down a place.

But on Saturday at Union Grove High School, Burlington was on fire with its routine and captured its third consecutive SLC championship.

Rummler won first place for her solo routine as well.

Rummler, Trishelle Iniguez, Hailey Hotvedt, Emily Duesing, Skylar Morelli, Mckenzie Wiginton, Bella Weis, Laney Mangold, Brianna Morelli, Sophie Stutzman, Kylee Zigler, Shelby Kail, Ella Reinholtz, Ella Koldeway and Olivia Lueck won Saturday, and they make up a “family,” not just teammates, according to Rummler.

Standard Press correspondent Mike Ramczyk caught up with Schilleman and Rummler to discuss Saturday’s accomplishment, and the dance program in general.


Mike Ramczyk: How significant is this conference championship?

Ashley Schilleman: This SLC Conference win is quite significant for our team because we had never won the competition before three years ago that we know of. This third consecutive win represents our growth and dedication as a team to this sport. Overall, this season we have competed at six competitions around the state, placing second at three of those and first at the other three.

At the competitions this season we have competed against as little as four other teams and as many as 15 teams from Wisconsin schools. Senior Katie Rummler also won first place with her solo routine this year, so that was a little extra special to have one of our soloists earn first at conference. If she qualifies for state again this year this will be her fourth time as an All-State dancer with the chance to make the All-State team for her individual routine all four years.

MR: Take me through the performance. What was key to victory?

AS: Dance performances are judged on a variety of criteria such as the content, execution, and effect like the visual effectiveness, creativity, complexity, skills, and synchronization. When it all comes together you have an engaging routine. It is not just the two-and-a-half minutes we performed there, it was the weeks and months of practice and dedication together leading up to that moment. There are components happening in the background that often go unrecognized, such as the conditioning coach that comes in to teach us valuable workouts for our specific sport and the choreographer that takes the elements from the scoresheet combined with what our team is capable of and creates magic. When it comes down to it, though, the victory is up to the girls. They must be accountable and do their part, whether they are in the back or the front. Every single girl on the floor matters and must perform to the fullest when competing.

MR: Why is it a special team?

Katie Rummler: This group of girls is so special because they are not only teammates, but they truly are a family. These girls are always willing to help each other inside and outside of practice with topics related or unrelated to dance. They have genuine friendships with everyone on the team and enjoy being around one another. They always know how to have a good time with each other and make competitions a fun experience with unforgettable memories.

Personally, I have never felt this close to a team before. I feel as though I could turn to any single one of my teammates for advice or help or just someone to talk to. I think that these girls are truly friends with everyone on the team. I have seen each girl joke around or have fun with every one of their teammates throughout our practices. This is the most supportive group of girls, and I feel so incredibly lucky to be a part of this team — this family.

MR: How much dedication does it take to be successful? What kind of work are you all putting in?

AS: Our team meets similar to other sports here at BHS 4 to 5 days a week after school. During those practices we work on the routine, which includes conditioning, cleaning the routine, and working on technique. It takes a great deal of time and effort to achieve a winning routine: hours of drilling different sections of the dance while also working on tricks and skills to showcase. Throughout the years girls on our team have had prior dance experience from area studios and others have had no experience at all.

      MR: Do you feel like your sport gets the recognition it deserves?

KR: I do not think most people understand how difficult this sport can actually be. Dancers have a million thoughts going through their minds as they perform – the toes must be pointed, the knees must be locked, the core should be engaged, extend all the way through the arms — and that could just be from one single movement in a routine with hundreds of different movements. The routines are quite rigorous, and just like any other sport, the girls get quite exhausted while performing. However, unlike other sports, dancers cannot show their fatigue. They must keep a smile on their face until the very end, otherwise their score is affected.

MR: What else is coming up? What can fans come and see?

AS: The SLC Conference competition was the closest competition to home. This Saturday we compete at the Falls Dance Invite up in Menomonee Falls. At the end of the month we compete at WACPC Southern Regionals in Watertown, and teams that qualify that weekend come together to compete against each other at state at the La Crosse Center the following weekend.