On Friday and Saturday, Target Center will play host to thousands of cheering fans not for a Timberwolves game, but for the high school dance team state tournament.
Teams split into three classes based on enrollment will compete for the jazz competition title Friday and the high-kick championship Saturday.
All of the top teams from last year will return to defend their titles, including Eastview in Class 3A and Aitkin in Class 1A, winners of both the jazz and high-kick competitions a year ago. Eastview is seeking its third consecutive championship in both competitions. The Lightning dance team has won 10 high-kick titles since 2004. The Aitkin All Starz have won nine high-kick championships.
In Class 2A, Benilde-St. Margaret is seeking to defend its jazz title while Sartell-St. Stephen is back to seek another high-kick championship.
The competition for both days follows the same format. In each class, 12 teams perform their routines in a qualifying round to determine six finalists. Class 1A teams begin competition at 11:30 a.m. Teams in Class 2A and 3A begin their first round at 2 p.m.
The finalists perform again, with Class 1A beginning at 5:30 p.m., followed by 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 specific to the jazz or high-kick performance.
The tournament, which has been under Minnesota State High School League auspices for 22 years, includes 48 dance teams this year. Last year's tournament drew an attendance record of 18,114.