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After a gut-wrenching two-year wait, the five-time defending state champion Canby Cougar dance team returned to the bright spotlights of the OSAA state championships Friday night, claiming third place in fierce competition.
To no one’s surprise, the Cougs performed well at the state showcase at Oregon City High School, earning a standing ovation for their 2022 routine “Listen,” which drew inspiration from the team’s experiences of isolation, darkness and silence, as well as the joys of real connection.
For the first time ever, the team incorporated the famed Canby High School Cantalinas choir into their finale, as the stage walls literally fell to the ground and the singers’ beautiful voices joined with the music to evoke a powerful image of breaking the silence.
The idea to include the Cantalinas came from senior captain Abigail Chaffee, who is also a choir member.
Despite the impressive performance, a penalty on one of their lifts knocked the Cougars from first place, a spot that instead went to Clackamas with a score of 17.08. Sprague, at 17.03, was a very close second, and the Cougs in third with a score of 16.33.
While the third-place finish was not what they’d hoped for, the team did have some additional accolades to celebrate. Maria VanHoose placed fifth in state drill down, while Chaffee was named to the 2022 6A All-State Dance Team earlier this month.
Olivia Coleman was one of two recipients of an academic scholarship awarded at the state meet, and plans to continue dancing at George Fox University next year.
Though the Cougs may not have captured the title this year, one thing is always certain with this Canby dance Squad: They’ll be back next year, better than ever and ready to compete.
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