by Dennis Dalman
A mass protest by dancers Feb. 14 at Minneapolis Target Center stunned many members of the audience, disqualifying the second- and third-place winners and raising questions of sports etiquette and sportsmanship.
The incident occurred after all the high school teams had competed in the high-kick competition, when five teams in the Class AAA contest refused to take their assigned places on the gym floor. Instead they gathered at one end of the gym and held hands.
They were protesting the Faribault Emeralds dance team, claiming its coach and members had “stolen” its dance routine from a team at Copper Hills High School in West Jordan, Utah.
Although the Wayzata team scored second place with judges, and the Eastview team placed third, they were disqualified and did not receive those honors because of their behavior. The announcer told the five teams to assemble, as they’d been told, at the center of the gym, along with the Faribault team. After two requests, the five teams refused and were disqualified.
The other teams which joined the protest were Chaska, Eden Prairie and Lakeville South.
What sparked the protest was a contention the Faribault Emeralds’ high-kick performance was “plagiarized” from the Utah team. Like the Copper Hills High School’s Azurettes team, the Faribault team performed to a song named Aliens and, like the Azurettes, their costumes consisted of black leotards, dark-green tops, pale faces with dark splotches of makeup around their eyes and their hair done up into “knobs” at the tops of their heads. The dancers were supposed to resemble spooky aliens. The Faribault team was also accused of copying the Utah team’s choreography too closely. Therefore, the other five high-kick teams thought Faribault did not deserve to win, based on their lack of originality.
However, before the dance tournament, the Minnesota State High School League, which is in charge of the dance event, determined the Faribault team’s performance was not a case of copycat and sent letters to all participating coaches that the Faribault team should be able to compete honorably with all the other teams at Target Center. The judges obviously agreed, giving top high-kick honors in Class AAA to the Emeralds.
A review by the Sartell Newsleader of the two dance performances online (by the Azurettes and Emeralds) did indeed show similarities in some of the choreography, the costumes, the makeup and the same song (Aliens). The dance performances when considered overall, however, were not identical except for some movements here and there.
Faribault’s team coach, Lois Krinke, was quoted widely in the media as saying, “We’re the top team in the state, and if they (Wayzata, Eastview dancers) don’t want their second- and third-place medals, I couldn’t care less. We got the first-place medal.”
Krinke acknowledged the Faribault team had been inspired by the Utah team’s dance number and had even imitated some of the moves but not identically and only for a few seconds here and there during the total performance.
The MSHSL is continuing an investigation into the Target Center protest and will announce its results later.