Saturday afternoon was a pure celebration of the art and competition of dance.

Teams from nearly two dozen schools packed Pendleton’s Warburg Court to compete in the 32nd annual Hearts in Motion dance competition. Hosted by Pendleton High School’s Rhythmic Mode, the contest serves as a fundraiser for the team leading up to their state competition at the Moda Center in March.

Dancers ranging from kindergarten to high school filled the afternoon with routines set to music that spanned from Lady Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory” to tunes from “The Greatest Showman” and “Grease” film soundtracks.

First place trophies in the Mini Jazz and Junior Jazz divisions were awarded to Hermiston’s Dance Unlimited. Pendleton’s Junior Jam won first in the Mini Hip-Hop, Youth Jazz, Junior Hip-Hop, and Junior Contemporary categories. Wallowa’s Ignite team took home the top prize in the Youth Hip-Hop division, and Prineville’s Legacy was awarded the gold in both the Senior Hip-Hop and Senior Contemporary categories.

Hermiston High School’s varsity dance team came out on top in the High School division.

Coached by Ashley Seibel, their routine, titled “Taken,” is set to Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” and filled the gym with a haunting atmosphere. Dancers clothed in black and painted in ashy makeup with roots jetting from their eyes pounce on their soloist dressed in beige as she tries to flee a set resembling a Sleepy Hollow-esque forest.

“Have you ever been at the wrong place at the wrong time?” Seibel said of the show’s premise. “We’ve all found ourselves there at one point or another.”

Seibel said her team has competed at Hearts in Motion for all of the nine years that she’s been their coach.

“We came here to support Pendleton,” she said. “We love dancing here. Debbie and Rhythmic Mode have been so great to us for many, many years.”

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