Permian and Odessa high schools hauled home a bunch of hardware — and banners — from the Crowd Pleasers Dance National Showcase in San Antonio.

Held March 24 and March 25, team directors said their performances were top notch. There were 29 teams.

The Varsity Panther Paws at Permian got overall grand national champion, the award given to the top scoring team out of the entire competition regardless of team size.

This was the first time a Panther Paw earned this recognition, said Kristin Carter, Permian High School dance director and Panther Paws dance team coach. Kayla Kruse is the assistant director.

The team also made finals in the five style categories they competed in and had the chance to re-perform each routine on the second day of competition for an overall title.

After finals concluded, they were awarded overall national champions in the style categories of contemporary, jazz, pom and novelty.

The varsity team also received numerous other awards including overall nationals champions in the medium-team category and national champions in the dance style divisions of pom, jazz, contemporary, hip-hop and novelty in the medium division.

Carter said they got a grand champion team banner, rings and $1,000 to go into the program. She added that this can be used for training, bringing in choreographers or sending the girls to camp.

“It’s really emotional for me because they are incredible. They’re the most amazing young ladies when it comes to their hearts and their love for each other. They care about one another and they truly are excited for each other,” Carter said.

“At all times they want to see each other do well and when they danced on the floor together the bond between them — it was like you could see it when they were dancing. I believe that’s why they did so well … because they were so in tune with each other. They’re just an incredible group,” Carter added.

Eighteen-year-old Permian senior Krystyn Irby said the win was a great way to end the year.

“This team is really special,” Irby said. “We’ve just been working so hard and it was just such a great team that had just great work ethic. For the past two years, we got second. It’s just really special to finally get the first place that we’ve been working for.”

Abbie Carrasco, a 17-year-old senior at PHS, said the year was “literally perfect” and she couldn’t ask for anything better.

“I just feel like we were a unit this year. Every single person, every individual was tied in together. Everyone had the same priority and everyone was hard working and wanted it just as bad. We were like a legit team,” Carrasco said.

Fifteen-year-old Permian freshman Emily Hill said this was her first year in Panther Paws.

“I’ve always loved to dance and I loved that the girls got to dance on the sidelines at football games and just do what we love together as a big team,” Hill said.

Hill added that winning the competition was awesome.

“I’ve never experienced something so fun. I grew as a dancer and a person being on the team,” Hill said.

OHS Showgirls Dance Director Kristina Rios said she told her girls regardless of what place they got or the trophies they took home it was about the journey.

“I wanted to go and for them to dance their hearts out and just leave the floor with no regrets and do their best. In all honesty, they did just that. There’s no trophy that can determine their place, where they are in my heart, and where they are with all of our supporters. Regardless, they’re still going to be No. 1,” Rios said.

Seniors Zaira Perez, Valeria Marquez and Natalie Subia have been in Showgirls for three years.

“I really think we pulled it off since the beginning of the year,” 17-year-old Perez said. “We started off pretty rough, but we always start that way each year so we went to Crowd Pleasers and I think we set a mark for them to run with — how we dance; our passion.”

Marquez, 17, said the Showgirls are a different type of team.

“We’re not your usual technical team. We have a different background. Not all of us come from a studio, so we all have to start from the beginning and we build our way up,” Marquez said.

Subia, 19, agreed with Rios that the trophies are something extra.

“We dance from our heart and we give it our all. I think that’s what matters to us the most,” Subia said.

The girls said this has been their most difficult year because they had to train a lot of girls at the beginning of the year. However, they stepped up dramatically.

“I feel like we’ve given it our all this year. … We’re proud to have won the trophies that we’ve won,” Subia said.

Rios noted that there was no tension between OHS and Permian.

“We wished each other good luck throughout the whole weekend. It was great to see the amount of talent that they have and vice-versa. We do have a competitive side because they are a rivalry school, but dancers do support dancers,” Rios said.

OHS Showgirls

The OHS Showgirls recently attended the Crowd Pleasers National Dance Competition in San Antonio. The Showgirls competed in the large high school varsity division and received Grand National Champions in their division.

The following girls took solos, duets and trios and placed:

  • Zaira Perez- Semi finalist.
  • Naliya Recio- Semi finalist.
  • Duet: Katelynn Carrasco/Naliya Recio- first runner up.
  • Trio: Zaira Perez/Valeria Marquez/Andrea Orona- 1st runner up.

Officer awards:

Zaira Perez, Kennedy Carrillo, Valeria Marquez, Andrea Orona, Jackie Lujan is also an officer but tore her ACL and was unable to perform this year at nationals but came along to support her team.

Large division:

  • Officer Contemporary- National Champion.
  • Officer Hip Hop- National Champion.
  • Officer Jazz- National Champion.
  • Officer Grand Champions large division.
  • Showcase Elite Officers- third runner up
  • Officer Hip Hop received an award for choreography, technique and performance quality.
  • Officer Jazz received an award for choreography.
  • Officer Contemporary received an award for choreography and performance quality.

Team awards in large division:

  • Team Super Sweepstakes.
  • National Champion Team Contemporary.
  • National Champion Team Hip Hop.
  • National Champion Team Jazz.
  • Overall National Champion-Team Hip Hop.
  • This award means OHS hip hop had the highest score over all other high school varsity hip hop routines in the competition.
  • Showcase Elite Teams:
  • Third runner up out of all high school varsity teams.
  • Team Jazz-Crowd Pleasers Award:
  • Team Contemporary received an award for choreography, technique and performance quality.
  • Team Hip Hop received an award for choreography and technique.
  • Team Jazz received an award for choreography and performance quality.
Permian Dance Teams


Varsity Panther Paws Dance Team

Other awards that were given to specific routines, as well as specific dancers, include:

  • Third highest scoring routine out of the entire competition for team hip-hop.
  • Artistry award for team Jazz and team Contemporary.
  • Crowd Pleaser award for team Jazz and team Hip Hop.
  • Super sweepstakes team.
  • National champion medium ensemble –“Waves.”
  • First runner-up medium ensemble – “Drift.”
  • First-ever solo finalist and place 2nd overall out of all senior level solos – Brooklyn Patterson.
  • 4th runner-up senior level solo – Emerald Terrell.
  • 4th runner-up junior level solo – Julissa Garcia.
  • Solo semi-finalists – Krystyn Irby, Abbie Carrasco, Alexia Paez and Katie Seaton.
  • 2nd runner up duet – Kamryn Carrasco and Claire Hill.

Junior Varsity Panther Paws Dance Team

The Junior Varsity Panther Paws won Overall National Champions in the Junior Varsity division and National Champions in the style division of jazz, contemporary and hip-hop.

They also made finals for their team hip-hop and competed the next day receiving the honor of Overall National Champion Hip-Hop out of all team sizes in the junior varsity division.

The JV team also won:

  • Super sweepstakes team.
  • National Champion Small Ensemble – “Hey Mambo.”
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