The Westerville North High School community has caught glimpses of the Warriorettes, a new dance drill team that launched last spring.
They have brought their energetic, hyper-athletic style of dancing known as “bucking” to the Westerville Independence Day parade, the Meet the Team event that introduces fall sports teams to the community, and the first home football game.
For the Warriorettes, last month’s pep rally served as their official debut party to their school community — and many members were touched by the warm reception from their peers.
“I was shocked,” junior and Warriorettes captain DeStiny Adkins said. “For a second, I couldn’t hear the music because they were screaming. It made me feel welcome.”
With the Warriorettes, the high school adds another offering in its variety of dance options for students that include sideline, competitive and pom cheer, as well as dance club. WNHS, which has a rich history of dance programs, once hosted a competitive dance drill team during the ‘90s that won national championships in line dancing and featured students who earned state dancing titles.
Dance drill teams are similar to military drill teams as they move with precision and as a unit. However, many dance drill teams use modern, ballet, folk, tap, and hip hop moves in their routines. Their precision routines complement the event at which they are performing with music and costumes that align with the occasion.
The Warriorettes blend the expressive, strong movements from bucking with the majorette-style dance — a combination of the energetic high-step marching style of Black college bands and West African, jazz, modern and hip-hop choreography. The majorette style originated with the dance drill squads at historically Black colleges and universities.
“When I was in high school, the drill team was the thing to be on,” said parent Shaunita Farmer, who coaches the Warriorettes and served as captain of her drill team at Linden-McKinley High School. “I wanted to bring that same energy to Westerville and give the girls something to look forward to.”
Farmer previously coached The Prancing Buckeyes, a community dance drill team based in Columbus, until the group disbanded two years ago because of the pandemic. Composed of girls from ages 4 to 18, the group for seven years competed in dance competitions across the country and performed at NBA halftime shows in Cleveland, Detroit and New York. She hopes to bring similar opportunities to the Warriorettes.
"I want to teach them everything that I wish I knew when I was their age and show them as much as possible," she said. "I want them to have all the experiences and to enjoy being in a drill team in high school."
Anyone is welcome to join and no dance experience is required. The team currently has 21 members; Some have cheered, others have done gymnastics. Several members have dance experience while a handful have never been involved in a school activity.
A few of them, like sophomore Joy Russell, have heard of dance drill teams from family members who were part of similar squads in high school.
“I was looking for something like this last year,” she said. “It’s a really good opportunity.”
“We are smart, sophisticated girls who love to dance and we’re just here to show school spirit and be there for our school.”
As the Warriorettes develop their identity on the dance floor, Farmer has been clear about how they represent themselves and their teammates when they are away from it: Be a lady.
“They have to be good citizens outside of the team and know how to act as a lady,” she said. “Most of them want a sisterhood. They want to be close to each other. They want to build a bond with their sisters.”
And after five months since its formation, squad members say it’s been that — and more.
“It’s so amazing getting closer to the other girls,” sophomore Simone Snell said. “It feels like a family here.”
So too for junior and co-captain Kalia Jones.
“It was something that we needed to have, especially for people that look like me and feel like they could be a part of something,” she said. “Having this just makes me happy. It makes me feel like I fit in.”
Adkins, who has performed in dancing teams — including Farmers’ The Prancing Buckeyes — since she was 3, is looking forward to building on their performances at upcoming home football and basketball games, as well as school events. Her goal is to have the Warriorettes move in sync with “one body, one mind, one heart, one soul, one everything” and eventually transition to more advanced choreography.
“We’re going to crank it up,” she said. “Get ready.”