Starting Friday and ending Saturday at Target Center, 108 carefully choreographed team dance routines will be performed, each several minutes long, to loud music and equally boisterous cheering from thousands of fans.
Each evening, champions in three classes of the high school dance team state tournament will be crowned — in the jazz competition on Friday and the high-kick competition on Saturday.
Familiar names, some of them among the state’s powerhouse programs, dot the two fields.
In the jazz tournament, defending champions return in all three classes — Eastview (3A), Totino-Grace (2A) and Frazee (1A) — along with the other five finalists in each class. Totino-Grace is seeking its ninth jazz title, Eastview its fourth and Frazee its second.
Similarly in high kick on Saturday, defending champions Eastview (3A), Totino-Grace (2A) and Aitkin (1A) return. Aitkin has won the past three 1A high-kick titles. Eastview has won nine 3A titles and Totino-Grace has won five times in 2A.
The competitions in each style of dance follow the same format. In each class, 12 teams compete in a first round to determine six finalists. The first round on both days features Class 1A teams beginning at 11:30 a.m. Teams in Class 2A and 3A begin their first round at 2 p.m.
The six finalists in each class perform their routines again, with Class 1A beginning at 5:30 p.m. and the other two classes at 7:15 p.m.
Judges use a 100-point scale to score team performances. They award points using criteria such as execution, choreography, difficulty, routine effectiveness and a fifth category tailored for the jazz or high-kick performance.
The tournament, which has been under Minnesota State High School League auspices for 21 years, includes 48 schools this year.
Last year’s dance team tournament had a record two-day attendance of 17,973, up six percent from 2015.