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Dance Team Rules Modified After Controversial Disqualification

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The best high school dancers in the state are competing in Minneapolis this weekend at Target Center during the Minnesota State Dance Championships.

The competition drew controversy last year after the Faribault Emeralds took the crown for the AAA high kick competition. They were accused of copying a dance routine from a team in Utah.

"It's hard to pinpoint what's copying and what's not," Connie Skaggs, a parent of a Cannon Falls Bomber dancer, said.

A side by side comparison of Faribault with the other team prompted protest from Minnesota AAA dance teams. At the State Championships, five teams in the finals were disqualified for not lining up during the awards ceremony when Faribault was crowned.

The controversy led to new guidelines to keep the focus on the dance floor this year. The Minnesota State High School League created a rubric for determining what counts as original or copied routine.

"In the 15 years I've been working with dance, that's the only time we've had a major choreography issue," MSHSL associate director Kevin Merkle said.

Merkle added similar costumes or music would likely not disqualify a team, but the amount of similar choreography does matter.

"We just have a tighter expectation," Merkle said.  "It's going to be easier to determine if anybody has violated or not."

The dancers say they're ready to move past the controversy.

"What happens is in the past and every year is a new year," Sartell Sabre Dance Team's Taylor Regnier said.  "Every team is a new team, so I think we just need to move on."

The Faribault Emeralds will be competing again to defend their title in the high kick Saturday.

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