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Maple Grove Voice

Maple Grove Dance Team Creates Super Memories During Halftime Show

Feb 06, 2018 09:43PM ● By Doug Erlien

Maple Grove Dance Team at Super Bowl Photo Courtesy Jill Leste

It was a phone call Maple Grove Senior High School Crimson Dance Team Coach Jill Leste will remember forever.

“I got a phone call in early December and I honestly thought it was a joke,” Leste recalled. “Somebody saying they were with Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl 52 halftime performance.”

The call turned out to be legit and very real. After researching Minnesota dance teams on You Tube, Maple Grove turned up at the top of the list along with several other Minnesota teams and asked if the team was interested in being part of the show.

Leste had let the call go through to her voicemail. And, according to her, it was probably good she did.

“I would have loved to have said yes right away,” Leste said. “There was a lot of red tape that we had to get through first.”

A call to Maple Grove Activities Director Ricardo Jones and a follow up conversation with Maple Grove Principal Bart Becker set the wheels in motion.

“We actually had two cry, because they were so excited” Leste said about telling her girls the news. “We had some sad girls who weren’t 16. That was the rule, you had to be over 16 in order to participate. Most of them were just in shock.”

Logistically, there would be missed school, early practices, late practices, and travel to and from US Bank Stadium and other downtown sites to practice for the performance at the big game.

When Leste finally connected with the casting director via telephone, there was one caveat. Everything was strictly confidential.

“We had to sign a confidentiality agreement with the consequence being removal form the show if something was posted on social media or if there was a press leak,” Leste said. “People didn’t tell Grandma and Grandpa until Sunday morning. It was an entire metro area of dancers that took it to heart and could only talk to each other about it.”

None of the dancers had phones with them during any of the rehearsals. Most of the pictures that have been seen since the performance came on Super Bowl Sunday. The practice schedule was rigorous leading up to the event.

“We practiced at the U of M, we practiced at the Coliseum for the State Fair and then we practiced for five days at US Bank Stadium and those five days were with JT (Justin Timberlake) the whole time,” Leste said.

Maple Grove Dance Team Advances to State Tournament (Photo Courtesy Jill Leste)

Another major hurdles for the team was that their section meet loomed close to the performance, bringing additional stress to everyone involved.

“Sections went really well,” Leste said. “We qualified for state in Jazz. We missed qualifying for Kick by one place.”

Not a bad season for the Maple Grove program giving everyone involved memories that will last a lifetime.

“They rolled out the red carpet just like these kids were professionals,” Leste said. “In turn, that’s how the kids treated the performance. They made it a very professional operation because they were being taught along the way how to do that. It was awesome.”


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