“One. Two. Three. Four.” Danique Silva taps her foot on the gymnasium floor.
“One. Two. Three. Four.” It echoes with a steady beat.
“One. Two. Three. Four.” Concentration creases her forehead above her mask as she closely examines each move of her dance squad.
The first-year head coach of the Taos High School Tigers dance team, Silva knows she has a large task ahead of her, but she is determined to create a new story for the proud program.
Taos High School traditionally does well in state championship dance competitions. They took home the 4A title in 2021 (March 2021), 2019 (2020 was cancelled) and 2018. But COVID hit the program hard, with larger concerns derailing the team’s progress.
Silva has been with the team for their recent success — she was the assistant coach for the two seasons prior to taking the helm — so she knows what a state champ looks like, and she believes the team has some ground to make up to get back to their former glory.
“The team as a whole is really excited about trying to change the dynamic that has always surrounded the team,” said Coach Silva. “And they are working really hard to make that happen. Our goal is to be the team that people talk about, the team that little girls and boys want to be on.”
A major component of the program overhaul is a shift in the style of competition the Tigers take part in. In New Mexico state competitions, there are typically four categories: Pom, Military, Hip Hop, and Jazz. All teams must compete in the Pom category for their first routine. The second routine is up to the team. Silva says THS has always had a hip-hop dance background. Since coming on, she has shifted the team’s focus to the Military category.
“We are really excited,” Silva says of the team’s reaction to the change in direction. “It’s really different. We had a background in ‘Hip Hop’, so I am driving the team in a direction that they’ve not been in. And I think that us going the direction of ‘Military’ is just showing how strong we can be and how hard we work on technique.”
To make the change happen, Silva brought in an assistant coach who can help with the transition in Alyssa Romero. Silva believes Romero can bring experience and a fresh set of eyes to the squad. After all, that’s exactly how Silva got into coaching.
“I was a cheerleader for a long time,” she says of her background in competitive dance. “The coach [of the dance team when I started] was my [cheer] coach from high school and she asked me to come aboard, and that was that.”
Coach Silva and her Tiger dance team head to Rio Rancho on Dec. 6 to take part in the opening competition of the season.