The Emerald Belles dance team were performing at the Crowd Pleasers Dance Contest when they suddenly fell to the floor. To the untrained eye, it looked like that might have been the end of their performance. But after the dancers returned to their feet, the ensuing magical moves left the crowd captivated.
For Melissa Page, it appears that dancing came just as naturally as walking. And the Texas native has been busting moves since she was just three years old, in fact. She became a head cheerleader in school, furthermore, and then was part of dance teams throughout her time in college. It’s therefore little wonder that Page has carved out an award-winning career for herself in the industry.
Indeed, since 1997 Page has helmed the Emerald Belles, a top dance team based at Carroll Senior High School. The school in Southlake, Texas, is known for its impressive athletics record. That’s right: students have triumphed in 20 state competitions across a series of sports in the space of just over 40 years. And the achievements of Carroll’s dance teams are just as notable.
Texan dance teams are different to the ones found in most other states, as they have hierarchies that mirror those of the military. Furthermore, in keeping with this regimented theme, Texas troupes tend to prefer a drill style of dancing, which features very precise movements. Traditionally, they are usually all-female, but males have also recently started taking part in the sport.
During Page’s time as director of the Emerald Belles, she has overseen the team as they’ve stormed to victory to claim numerous trophies. The Belles have also delighted audiences aboard Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruises. And to top things off, they’ve even performed at Fiesta Texas and Disney World.
Given the success of the Emerald Belles, many former team members have gone on to dance at their respective colleges. These include the University of Southern California, Southern Methodist University and the University of Arkansas. Moreover, some ex-Belles have even become professional dancers and performers.
One such success story from the Emerald Belles is Lacey Munoz, who has been a cheerleader for the Dallas Cowboys since 2014. Another of Page’s protégées is Lexy Hulme, who’s since become a dancer on TV and film. Among Hulme’s achievements are, for instance, dancing in Glee with Gwyneth Paltrow and featuring in a number of movies. And the alumni additionally appeared in season two of NBC drama Smash back in 2013.
What’s more, in recent years the Emerald Belles have extended their reign over the dance world from Texas to the whole of the United States. In 2014 the dance troupe attended their debut national contest, which took place in Fort Worth, TX. And their performance bagged the top prize and saw them become MA National Drill Team champions.
And that wasn’t the Emerald Belles’ only success at the competition. They also came out on top in the lyrical and high-kick categories and were runners-up in the jazz section. “This is the first time for the Belles to go to a national competition, and I’m so proud of their accomplishments,” Page told My Southlake News at the time.
The Emerald Belles have earned even more national prizes in the years that have followed too. And as a result, the team have made a name for themselves in the wider world of dance. Their popularity has also been confirmed by the attention that the Belles’ dance routines receive on YouTube. Two of their videos have each amassed more than one million views, in fact.
One of these most-watched Emerald Belles routines was actually filmed at the Showmakers of America Dance Competition. But when the dance team attended this event in 2018, they in fact showcased at least two incredible performances. Both of these spectacles were later posted on YouTube for our enjoyment too.
The first of the two dances that made it online from the Showmakers of America Dance Competition is a lyrical routine. In it, dozens of Emerald Belles can be seen moving softly, in rhythm with romantic music. Despite the sheer size of the group, though, the dancers move in perfect synchrony, gracefully matching their motions to every beat.
As the tempo of the music increases, so too does the sophistication of the Emerald Belles’ expressions. And the impressive results have proved popular on YouTube. Since being posted in February 2018, in fact, the footage has clocked up over 24,000 views. However, it’s still not close to being the most popular video of the Belles taken at the Showmakers of America Competition 2018.
That’s because the other clip from the event has managed to reach an even wider audience on YouTube. The video captures the Emerald Belles’ high-kick routine, which they performed to a mash-up of Daft Punk hits in a visual style influenced by the sci-fi movies Tron and Tron: Legacy.
And the high-kick style is popular with dance teams the world over – although it isn’t easily perfected. That’s because it demands a difficult blend of flexibility, balance and posture. Nonetheless, in their three-minute routine, the Emerald Belles proved that they possessed all these qualities by the bucket-load.
The video starts with the Emerald Belles standing arm-in-arm to create a triangular formation. As the dancers leap into action, it’s clear that the group are perfectly in tune with one another. They perform their moves in synchronization, you see. Before long, the team fall back to create a rippling effect, leaving just a single dancer – with one toe stretched towards the ceiling – center stage.
What follows is a series of what are clearly painstakingly choreographed dance moves. And the grace with which the Emerald Belles perform the kicks, flicks, splits, rolls and twirls somehow makes the feat look easy. Moreover, the routine goes down a storm in the room and did so once again on YouTube.
Yet the clip of the Emerald Belles’ Daft Punk routine is still not the best received of the group’s videos online. That’s because the dance team’s high-kick display from the 2017 Crowd Pleasers Dance Competition has been viewed even more often. Indeed, the performance has continued to mesmerize audiences just as it did when it was seen live at the event itself.
The Emerald Belles were no strangers to the Crowd Pleasers Dance Competition, having performed there on a number of occasions. In fact, a year prior – in 2016 – the group performed a Victoria Secrets-themed dance, taking inspiration from the company’s famous runway shows. And in the sort of detail that the troupe are known for, there were even fluffy pink-and-white angel wings.
At the 2017 Crowd Pleasers Dance Competition, though, the Emerald Belles competed in a number of categories, including the jazz, production and high-kick divisions. And while all three of those performances were acclaimed, it was once again their efforts in the kick section that most helped them stand out from the crowd.
According to the Crowd Pleasers Dance website, production pieces are “typically a themed performance utilizing staging, props and/or back drops that extends longer than the three-minute time limit.” And in this category, the Emerald Belles performed to the music of Jennifer Lopez – using a pair of steps and a range of outfits to tell a story through dance.
In the jazz category, the Crowd Pleasers judges were looking for “an upbeat style of dance where the focus is on technical skills.” For their performance, the Emerald Belles chose a retro theme. Yes, they channeled 1940s pin-ups such as swimming sensation Esther Williams and the works of Busby Berkeley – a choreographer famed for his elaborate, synchronized dance scenes.
But while the Emerald Belles’ performance and jazz routines were both well received at the Crowd Pleasers contest, neither of them killed it quite as much as their high-kick display. The event’s website states that such routines should be “performed with an emphasis on kick technique and height.” And on those terms, the Belles definitely delivered.
For their kick routine, the Emerald Belles donned matching beige jumpsuits with black detailing, which would serve to fully show off their flexibility. And the display was set to the 1980s Eurythmics classic “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).” A fitting song, since the dance was reportedly inspired by lucid dreaming and fantasies.
At the beginning of the performance, which can be viewed on YouTube, the Emerald Belles stand in small clusters. The team are scattered across the gym floor that’s serving as their stage. As the intro starts up, so too do the dancers who execute a number of stretches. Meanwhile, one Belle in the center is lifted into the air by her teammates.
The Emerald Belles continue with their individual yet orchestrated actions for a few seconds, until the first musical beat of the backing track drops. It’s then that the Belle being carried is lowered to the ground and begins tiptoeing towards the crowd in time with the music. At first, the other dancers are deathly still. But after a few head-spinning twirls from their teammate, they too stir into action.
As the girl in the center of the action continues to command the attention of the crowd, the rest of the Emerald Belles rise up. They then start marching purposefully into formation as the iconic electro riff of “Sweet Dreams” blares out for the very first time. Now finally in a group, the team embark on one of the exquisitely executed synchronized routines for which they’ve become renowned.
At first, there’s a simultaneous movement of limbs, until the Emerald Belles have seamlessly placed their arms around one another. From there, an almost can-can like kicking of legs commences, which is interspersed with jumps and ripple movements. Demonstrating their impeccable balance, they then each stretch out a leg, allowing the dancer next to them to recline sideways. Thus they mimic the action of falling asleep – in keeping with the theme of their routine.
Next, the Emerald Belles softly fall to the ground before springing up into bridges and performing a short floor routine. They then return to their feet and merge into circles of increasing sizes, which soon enough turn into a kicking composition of legs. The sight has a captivating effect on the audience.
Once that kicking section is complete, the Emerald Belles unfold into three separate groups, each of which performs different – but equally enchanting – routines. The team then come back together as one to form a square. And the four quarters of the shape function both together and separately to achieve a dramatic effect.
The Emerald Belles continue to dance as a square for a little while – until they suddenly reverse away from the audience. However, their retreat doesn’t last for long. Soon they’re spilling forward, arms flailing, looking almost reminiscent of something from your deepest, darkest nightmares.
As the spooky crawling actions conclude, the Emerald Belles once again gather around a single girl, who waves her arms like she’s conjuring a spell. Then, without warning, darkness descends on the dance team, as a large black cloak is suddenly cast over the gym. When the dancers reappear on the other side, they’re back in formation and ready to complete their kick routine.
Towards the end of the display, the Emerald Belles dissipate into a looser, now rectangle-shaped formation. Next, they clasp arms with one another to perform their most impressive kicks yet. The dancers separate into three groups one last time and then unite for their awe-inspiring finale.
United in the center of the floor, the Emerald Belles twirl and kick before the majority of the team fall into splits – leaving just a handful of dancers standing. The girls who remain on their feet perform one final lift and then they’re joined by the rest of the Belles to finish in a huddle. And as the dancing concludes, the roof of the gym is practically lifted due to the rapturous applause.
The reception that the Emerald Belles’ routine received was almost as enthusiastic when their “Sweet Dreams” routine landed on YouTube. And that’s because the video, which was posted in 2017, has since received more than 3.3 million views. What’s more, this wasn’t the only attention that the captivating clip attracted.
After all, later on in 2017 the Emerald Belles were chosen as the “Best Dance Team” by the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. And their winning entry consisted of their kick routine from the Crowd Pleasers Dance Competition. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the happy news was celebrated in a post from the Carroll Independent School District’s Facebook – a page for the area in which the Belles’ school is located.
As reports of the Emerald Belles’ newly earned title spread on social media, they were inundated with well wishes. Former dance team member Michelle Baker was one of the many who felt compelled to share words of encouragement. “Oh! Goodness! Well deserved!” she wrote. “Remembering many happy memories with the Belles in the ’90s!”
Since 2017 the Emerald Belles have continued to compete – often successfully – and have also performed during half-time at a number of sporting events. And even though it might seem that things couldn’t get any bigger for the school dance team, 2019 could perhaps be their most high-profile year to date.
Indeed, in March 2019 the Emerald Belles took to Twitter with some special news. The tweet in question read, “We are excited to announce that we auditioned for America’s Got Talent today. Stay tuned for the season premiere in May!” The team were of course referring to the hit TV talent show that airs on NBC.
The Emerald Belles gave no inkling as to how they fared when performing for the America’s Got Talent judges. However, looking at their past routines, it’s certainly hard to imagine them failing to impress. Only time will tell if the Belles’ TV careers will take off, mind you. But if their iconic kick displays are anything to go by, they’ll soon be flying high.