Spotlight shines on Blue Brigade senior

Photos by Brooke Miller, Madison Olsen and Dave Winter.

The lights shine down and the music surrounds her as she does her high kicks and splits across the field. She moves with ease in her sparkly outfit, cowboy hat and cowboy boots. The crowd roars its appreciation as the music slows and the band leaves.

Dos Santos performs her senior solo at the "Last Dance" spring show on April 22. Photo by Dave Winter.

Dos Santos performs her senior solo at the “Last Dance” spring show on April 22. Photo by Dave Winter.

That’s the end of another halftime for dancer Ariella Dos Santos.

At 18, the McCallum senior and Blue Brigade Dance Team officer, recently completed her dance tour of duty, a four-year odyssey that she started her freshman year in the fall of 2013. The dance team not only performs at the halftime of football games and in the pep rallies but also represents the school in dance competitions throughout the year.

Along with her fellow Brigade seniors, Dos Santos completed her final performances (including a farewell solo) at the appropriately named “Last Dance” spring show on April 22.

Dos Santos said the Brigade enjoyed a successful year in 2016-2017.

“The Blue Brigade team is a big success here at McCallum.” Dos Santos said. “I think anyone interested needs to know it’s a large time commitment but lots of fun,” Santos said. “While I’m performing, I get a rush of excitement, especially when it’s a dance I’m confident in. I really get into the mood and character of the music.”

As exciting as it is, it can get overwhelming.

Senior Ariella Dos Santos cheers on the football team during a game at House Park last fall. Photo by Brooke Miller.

Senior Ariella Dos Santos cheers on the football team during a game at House Park last fall. Photo by Brooke Miller.

“The only thing I really sacrificed is being able to take classes at my dance studio during football season; it’s hard to find time to take all the classes I would like.”

Success in Blue Brigade requires a commitment of time, and time is something that is at a premium for all high school seniors.

“Probably my biggest challenge has been figuring out what colleges I am wanting to apply to and dedicating time to my applications while balancing school and extracurricular activities,” Dos Santos said.

But Dos Santos has been finding time for dance since well before she came to McCallum. At a very young age, she started taking dance classes outside of school before joining the Stingerettes dance team at Kealing Middle School and then the Blue Brigade at McCallum.

“My mom put me in classes, and I fell in love with tap, which exposed me to other types of dance as well,” Dos Santos said.

Not only is she a dancer, but this year she also served as a head supervisor in the 2016-2017 benefit fashion show.

“In the model rehearsals, we liked to see all the different people and the experience they already had to see who would be capable to be in the show.”

Dos Santos flashes a smile at the crowd during the second annual spring sports pep rally in the gym on Feb. 3. Photo by Dave Winter.

Dos Santos flashes a smile at the crowd during the second annual spring sports pep rally in the gym on Feb. 3. Photo by Dave Winter.

Her teammates and fellow Brigade officers describe Dos Santos as a strong leader and a good friend.

“She’s outgoing, ambitious, artistic and caring,” said Brittne Miller, the captain of the Blue Brigade team. “A great leader, considerate of others and wants everyone to be the best they can be; not only that, but she’s also a great friend that I can rely on.”

In addition to leading Mac students on Blue Brigade and in the fashion show, she also leads younger dancers in the Brigade’s kiddie clinic.

“She is a good teacher and it’s always fun to go to kiddie clinic,” said Brianna Miller, a kiddie clinic student.

She has a passion for dance and but that’s not all she loves.

“My favorite color is forest green and peachy coral, and my favorite food would be olives, but the meal I like the most is beans and rice”.

Dos Santos is thankful to her family for the great opportunities she’s had, and her parents and two younger siblings are behind her with their full support.

Dos Santos and her Brigade mates prepare to perform at the outdoor pep rally leading up to the Knights' playoff win over Kerrville Tivy on Nov. 11. Photo by Dave Winter.

Dos Santos and her Brigade mates prepare to perform at the outdoor pep rally leading up to the Knights’ playoff win over Kerrville Tivy on Nov. 11. Photo by Dave Winter.

“One of my most rewarding experiences was being able to perform in the Macy’s Day parade,” Dos Santos said. “Then while I was there, I was chosen with 38 other dancers out of 650 others to be a part of the opening number as well in the parade, which was an amazing experience.”

She may have danced for the last time as a Blue Brigade dancer, but her dance career will continue long after her senior year is over. In the fall, she will attend the prestigious American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles.

“I still hope to be dancing and performing,” Dos Santos said last December. “I’m just going to work really hard and focus in college.”

 

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