String of Pearls claim championship at Nationals

The String of Pearls dance team had a trip to remember this weekend when they traveled to Arlington, Texas, for the annual American Dance/Drill Team Nationals competition.

The Pearls, led by director Kara Fleming, claimed a championship in Pom while placing first runner-up in both Jazz and Hip Hop.

Placing in three different events was especially rewarding after last year’s competition was changed to a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“To me the most amazing part is I saw half of this team get to the week we were leaving for nationals and then everything shut down because of COVID,” Fleming said. “They had worked so hard and didn’t get to make that trip. We competed virtually, but it was just a recording so they didn’t get to experience going to Nationals.

“The best part was the girls who essentially worked for two years finally got to go and compete and get that title.”

Heading into the competition, Fleming was optimistic the Pearls would do well but, of course, you never really know until it’s time to take the floor.

“You always feel that way but it’s hard because in dance you really don’t know what you’re up against until you get there,” she said. “Everybody keeps their routines hidden until you get there. You work hard on your skills, get there and hope you hit the mark.

“Once we won, the girls were so excited. We had about a 30-minute photo session afterwards where there was nothing but tears.”

Winning the pom category was especially rewarding.

“Pom is fast motion precision mixed with high-level skill like jumps, turns and leaps,” Fleming said. “It’s definitely one of the most difficult categories because it has a little bit of everything.”

Members of the 2020-21 String of Pearls are Catherine Authement, Ashanti Bullock, Aliciana Carter, Cara Davis, Ali Dore, Katelyn Everhart, Kaisley Kamlade, Harleigh Lafontaine, Sarah LeCompte, Ashley Miller, Jessica Mixon, Belle Moeller, Juliana Moore, Robyn Moss, Breanna Smoak, Kailee Spiers, Jolee White, Sarah Williams and Haley Vaughan.

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