RHS Performs in First Latin Dance Competition in 8 Years

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Courtesy of Emily Luna

RHS Ritmo places third in 12th annual Latin Dance competition.

Nov. 21, 2022, Rockville’s Latin dance team, RHS Ritmo, secured a third-place win at the 12th Annual MCPS Latin Dance competition at The Music Center at Strathmore. 

Ritmo performed among 16 other high schools in the county. Ritmo represented Rockville in the Baila4Life Latin Dance Competition for the first time in eight years. 

“We were very excited to be the team that brings RHS back to competitions. I felt so proud of us for working hard,” sophomore and Ritmo captain Amy Acosta said. “This year in competition, I went all out and did my best.”

In 1999, The After School Dance Fund launched their first Latin Dance Club at Seneca Valley HS. Over the past two decades, the organization has helped establish Latin dance clubs in MCPS elementary, middle, and high schools, being the most prominent form of programming.

“Our school is trying our best to give a platform to Latine children. That’s why I feel like it’s important for me to be involved because that stuff wasn’t available when I was in high school,” Ritmo sponsor Cynthia Diehl said. 

Ritmo’s coaches are volunteers for Baila4Life. Coaches are responsible for choreography and song selection. 

“RHS Ritmo has the best coaches, Ivan and Delilah. They make the routines and choreograph RHS Ritmo. They do it all to get us ready for competition,” Acosta said. 

For students and faculty, Ritmo represents a space where they can express themselves and parts of their culture. “For me, [Latin Dance Club is] about giving back to the Latine community through performing arts. For Latine people, dance is ingrained in our body.” Diehl said.

Over the season, Ritmo practiced twice a week and every day as the competition approached. This allowed them to form a tight-knit bond with one another. 

“[My favorite memory was] the transition from peers to friends and then from friends to sisters with the girls. The last day before the competition, they were saying, ‘I’m so proud of my sisters,’ that was a nice thing to see,” said Diehl. 

Ritmo team member Emily Luna is most proud of the family she found within Ritmo. “ I never thought I would feel this close to them,” sophomore Emily Luna said. “ I’m very proud of this because I know it’s really hard for some of us to connect to one another, especially me, but we all easily connect while doing what we love–dancing.”

To cultivate team connections and enhance anticipation for the competition, Ritmo dancers executed their own spirit day to count down the days until showtime. Spirit days included a pajama day, a jersey/flag day where dancers could showcase their country of origin, a favorite color day, a twin day, and class colors. 

“Doing spirit week helped us bond and showed how much spirit we have. We were all excited and went all out,” Luna said. “It helped us get hyped and feel the tension because the day was coming so fast.”

There is still time for students interested in joining RHS Ritmo. The team will be on a hiatus until January, after which they will perform at RHS’ Noche Latina in March. 

“[Ritmo is] something you won’t regret. It’s so much fun connecting with your teammates and coaches; you will feel welcomed. You express yourself so much when it comes to dancing. Everyone should join!” Luna said.