CR Drill Team members journey to the Citrus Bowl

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Clayton Ridge Drill Team members, from left, Brianna Miller, Grace Meier, Emily Schaefers, and Kaitlyn Kuehl-Berns performed as members of the All American Dance Team during the half-time show at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

This year, Clayton Ridge Drill team members Brianna Miller, Emily Schaefers, Kaitlyn Kuehl-Berns and Grace Meier were invited to participate in the half-time show at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

The competition for an invitation to the Citrus bowl starts in July at the Marching Auxiliary summer dance camp.

Each year the entire drill team attends the M.A. camp in Des Moines. M.A. Camps are widespread, covering the entire United States. The camp invites performers starting in the eighth grade through age 21 to participate in the  program.

Beginning in 1984, with the creation of the All American Performance Team, Marching Auxiliaries have received national and international accolades. The M.A. company has provided half-time entertainment at many college bowl games and marched in several prestigious parades.  

"At M.A. Camp we work hard and learn different routines. We each get an opportunity for a solo performance to showcase what we learned. The judges award ribbons; if you are awarded a white ribbon you receive the honor of performing at the Citrus Bowl or the Macy's Day Parade," stated Brianna Miller. 

"It has always been the drill team's tradition to attend the Citrus Bowl. The Macy's Day Parade interferes with our  pre-state performance schedule," said Kaitlyn Kuehl-Berns. 

These energetic girls, chaperoned by their parents and parents' companions, enjoyed a whirlwind trip to Florida. 

The girls were able to enjoy the warm temperatures and a quick trip to Disney World and Universal Studios before the performance practice began. 

All participants were housed at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando. Practices were held in a large ballroom onsite.

Young women and three young men from all across the United States gathered together to learn the routines.  This year’s routine had a disco theme with a tribute to Aretha Franklin, "Queen of Soul." 

"We danced to Respect and Think, and singer CeCe Teneal accompanied us with vocals. The routine was super fun and easy to have fun with," said Miller. 

"There were 400 participants on the team, this included flags and twirlers," said Kuehl-Berns.

Kuehl-Berns went on to say, "It was really cool to work with the staff and successful people in the dance industry."

The girls were positioned in the front row between the 30- and 40- yard line. 

Then asked how their position was determined, the girls replied, "When we got to the hotel the first thing we did was sign up for an assigned position. After that you earn your position. They were not afraid to move you from your position according to your performance." 

Measurements were sent in prior to the event to ensure that each disco-theme uniform was tailor made to fit the individual performer. 

Kaylie Boyd was the group's choreographer. "There were also state judges on hand to help out," said Kuehl-Berns. 

"Once you receive an invitation to perform in the Citrus Bowl you are invited back each year. Two of the participants from another state had danced in the event eight years in a row," said Miller. 

The girls expressed thanks to the Clayton Ridge School board for giving them permission to use the school Suburban for travel and providing money to offset travel costs. 

(Due to scheduling difficulties,  Grace Meier and Emily Schaefers were not able to attend the interview.)

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