Steamboat Springs Anyone who frequents Steamboat Springs High School athletic events has seen them.
At halftime during football and basketball games, they perform dance routines for the audience. In fact, they could be one of the most prolific dance groups in town. They are the members of the Steamboat Springs High School Dance Team.
Two aspects of the Steamboat squad make it unique among dance teams. First, during the fall and winter, members perform during almost every home football and basketball game. Second, they never do the same dance routine twice.
"We are the only (high school) team in Colorado that performs a different one for every game," senior dancer Marissa Bucci said.
Dance team is serious business. The Colorado High School Activities Association views the dance team as a sport.
Many high school dance teams on the Front Range -- schools Steamboat competes against during the state tournament in December -- just work on one routine, which they practice all year and then perform at the state competition, Steamboat dance team coach Kim Bates said.
Some Front Range schools can also afford to hire professional cheerleaders from the Broncos and the Nuggets to choreograph routines, she said.
Steamboat dancers don't have those opportunities, she said.
So, the Steamboat team prides itself not only on the fact that every performance is original but also on the fact that the girls choreograph each one themselves.
"I don't just say, 'Here is the song and here is the dance and let's go,'" Bates said. "I just think they enjoy the responsibility of doing it themselves."
She also wants to give the girls a chance to say they have choreography experience.
Often, when putting together the routines, Bates will have each dancer come up with a different dance for one particular section of a song. After performing each option together at the next rehearsal, the dancers pick which ones they like the best. The process means it's feasible each dancer will have choreographed a part of any one dance routine.
"Everybody has their own unique style. It just gives them a chance to partake in the process," Bates said.
But staying original all the time isn't easy.
"There are times that we learn it all in two days and perform it on the third," Bucci said.
Senior dancer Elizabeth Salzgever said she has been in the situation of learning a dance routine in a day and performing it that night.
"It was harder than I expected," Salzgever said when she started on the team two years ago. "I didn't expect to have to put so much work into it. But that's what you have to do."
To achieve the heady goal of choreographing and performing so many different routines in the team's season, a few timesaving techniques are used.
The biggest one, as Bucci explained, is basically cutting and pasting from different routines. They take small parts of other dances they've performed and fit them into new -- usually hip-hop -- music.
It takes a lot of work and cooperation.
Salzgever said working together and helping out is what she likes about the team.
"I like working with the other girls. Especially, being older, I like working with the younger girls," she said.
Bates keeps things flexible, allowing the girls to participate in other activities. At any given time, the team can have as many as 15 girls or have fewer than 10.
The Steamboat Springs High School Dance Team's next performance is on Jan. 17 at the home basketball game.