The show must go on

Upon preparing for her graduation, Senior reflects on her journey to Marquette captain

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Getting into starting position, freshman Grace Zimmel prepares for the opening number at her first Spring Show. As her back faces the crowd, the cheers of the audience echo throughout the room behind her. Her mind races to last year when she was just watching in the audience. Reflecting on her success over the past year, she smiles as music fills the auditorium.

Marquette Captain Grace Zimmel, now a senior, said that the first night of her freshman Marquette Spring Show has remained her favorite memory of being on the dance team for the past three years.

“It was definitely the first time where I realized that I was part of something that was so much bigger than myself,” Zimmel said.

After dancing at her studio for several years, Zimmel decided to audition for the Marquettes her eighth-grade year. The process included a week of clinics where those auditioning learned choreographed dances from Marquette instructors. Zimmel remembers the stress and pressure she felt leading up to her audition. Getting home at 9 p.m. on weeknights pressured her to work harder in school and dance. After days of rehearsal, Zimmel was finally announced as one of the new members of the Marquette team.

“It was really stressful not really knowing if you’re going to make it or what was going to happen with so many girls trying out,” Zimmel said. “But it was worth it to just finally see your name on that list telling you that you made it.”

Once Zimmel made the team, practicing new styles of dance was difficult for her at first. However, she said her officers were patient and helpful with her and other newbies throughout their first season. This led her to slowly gain newfound confidence in her abilities. Zimmel said that having to work hard and reach new limits of dancing helped her bond with her team and understand what it means to be a true dancer.

Everyone on the team is pushed to be the best they can be. We’re taught to work hard not necessarily for a trophy, but because we’re all working towards the same goal and want our team to be lifted up to another level.”

— Grace Zimmel

After dancing on the team for two years, Zimmel tried out for Junior Officer and was later given the position at the end of her sophomore year. Through this position, she learned how to teach and lead during practice. A year later, her experience as an officer gave her the confidence to try out for Marquette Team Captain. The week-long audition required that each girl choreographed their own dance, taught it to the team and performed three different dances to a panel of judges. At the end of the week, the team and the directors voted and deliberated, and Zimmel was announced as the new team captain.

“I remember being so overwhelmed and happy. Happy for the new junior officers. Happy for the team,” Zimmel said. “It was just a really great night.”

She said that the years of experience they have had with each other have brought them close enough to where routines can be easily taught and corrected.

“I know it’s hard to imagine that a group of 51 would be close, but we all genuinely love each other,” Zimmel said. “That’s what makes practice so much fun each day. We all have so much fun because we’re all friends.”

Despite the group’s closeness, there are still difficulties that come with the responsibilities of being captain. Zimmel said the toughest part of her position has been keeping the team motivated throughout long practices and rehearsals during competitions. Zimmel said that she has learned how to remind her team that their hours of hard work lead to a great performance and that each dancer holds an important team role.

“You just have to focus on seeing the goal and know that at the end of the day you’re part of something bigger than just one really long practice,” Zimmel said.

Zimmel said a major part of her growth has been collaborating with her directors. Zimmel believes that their patience and wisdom are what has impacted her enough to allow her to thrive both on and off the field.

“They’ve helped me grow a lot in my own confidence and really believe in you even during times when you don’t believe in yourself,” Zimmel said. “It was really amazing to have them help me grow as a leader by showing the importance of kindness and working hard.”

Working closely with Zimmel as her head instructor, Marquette Team Director Alice Dack described how incredible it has been to see Zimmel grow as a dancer and a leader. Watching her perform since her freshman year, Dack said that Zimmel was quiet and humble, but learned to shape herself into a figurehead for the team. Dack believes that her poise and leadership skills are what set Zimmel apart from other captain candidates.

She demands respect without even having to say anything. Her team respects her tremendously just for who she is inside of school and outside of school. For who she is as a person.”

— Team director Alice Dack

“She demands respect without even having to say anything,” Dack said. “Her team respects her tremendously just for who she is inside of school and outside of school. For who she is as a person.”

Dack hopes that within the following years after Zimmel’s departure, the Marquettes will be able to remember her leadership and kind heart. She said she will never forget Zimmel’s integrity and drive, and she hopes the team feels the same.

“She is the whole package. I never had to worry or question her,” Dack said. “She is an anticipator and forward thinker. I will always appreciate her, her brain and her grace.”

Preparing for graduation, Zimmel hopes to encourage her team to enjoy their time being a Marquette. Looking over the past four years, Zimmel said that being with the Marquettes has played a major part in forming who she is. She is still amazed by all that she’s been able to accomplish with the team and said that her memories of her teammates and directors will remain with her forever.

“I hope to show them what it means to appreciate what you’re in right now and to spread kindness throughout the team,” Zimmel said. “I want them to understand the importance of working hard and making an impact in the school and people around you.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email