BFA’s Dance Team Turns Up the Music

BFAs Dance Team performs.
Photo credit:

BFA’s Dance Team performs. Photo credit:

River Dalley, Writer

Bellows Free Academy’s Dance team is in the middle of its 2022-2023 season.  The Mercury sat down with Colleen McHugh, BFA’s dance teacher and the team’s coach, to discuss the details of her coaching, what the dance team has to face during practices and competitions and how dance as a sport can impact its participants.

While this is McHugh’s first season as the BFA dance team coach, this isn’t her first rodeo with coaching; she said that she previously coached for Purnell Swett High School  in Maxton, N.C. for two years. 

According to McHugh, she is not only in charge of coaching, but also music, choreography and competition organizing for the team.

McHugh explained that a standard competition for the team has them choose from three styles of dance: hip Hop, a street style of dance that has evolved as a part of hip hop culture and is generally danced to hip hop music, jazz, a technical and influenced style of dance that is usually performed to modern pop music and pom, which McHugh said is “similar to cheerleading, but without the tumbling and stumbling.”

McHugh said that BFA typically competes in hip hop and jazz.

BFA’s dance team has already competed in multiple meets.

According to McHugh, at the Richford Junior Senior High School and Colchester High School meets, they placed second in jazz and third in hip hop. At the North Country Union High School meet, BFA placed third in hip hop and fourth in jazz.

On Feb 4, McHugh said that BFA will be traveling to Lamoille High School to compete against Lamoille, Richford, North Country and South Burlington. The following weekend, BFA will be hosting its own meet with seven teams attending. The state competition, with ten teams in attendance, will be held on Feb. 18. 

“It’s always exciting to go to the competitions to see the other teams and the progress they’ve made and to see how my team does and how much progress they’ve made,” McHugh said.

McHugh said that her drive to coach comes from her love of dance.

“I love dance, and I love teaching dance,”  McHugh said. “I love it when…our students make progress in their skills. It’s really inspiring to see them…some of them have never competed in dance before, and now by the end of the season are doing skills that take some people twice as long to learn. So it’s really cool to see how people put in effort…and to put together their routines and watch them perform. I love it.”

McHugh believes that this love of dance carries over to her athletes as well. 

“I think they’re all enjoying it,”McHugh said. “They have a lot of fun, especially on competition days, because they can be silly while we’re getting ready, and have fun with each other. We’re always laughing during practice…they’re also definitely learning a lot, so there’s a good balance.”