Athlete of the week: Arista Metz, Rogers, Dance Team: Dancing queen

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

Dance Team is normally an all-for-one, one-for-all activity, but one ambitious, confident Rogers dancer shone individually this year, too.

Arista Metz, a long-stemmed, 5-foot-8 senior with large, dark eyes, a wide smile, and splendid athletic ability, noted for her graceful turns and powerful leaps, was crowned Miss Dance Team Minnesota. She will compete again March 21 at nationals in Irvine, California.

Rogers Dance Team captain Arista Metz won the Miss Dance Team Minnesota title in October and will compete at nationals in California in March. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

“When I heard about it, I wanted to show everyone what I’ve got,” said Metz, who competed with 26 other entants Oct. 29-30 at Eastview High School.

A solo dance counted for 70 percent, with modeling/poise 15 percent and an interview with judges 15 percent. At the end, with all the girls on stage in formal gowns,  Metz was named top pick.

Her coach at Rogers, Megan David, was not surprised.

“Arista is a gorgeous dancer, always fun and inspiring to watch,” said David. “She is an awesome leader, both verbally and by example.  She is an excellent role model for the younger team members to look up to, and she takes that role seriously. She always gives 100 percent.”

Metz, sixth of seven kids in a family where the girls are dancers and the boys basketball players, has danced since age two. She tried track in ninth grade, and lettered as a quarter-miler, but gave it up because tendinitis in her knees bothered her more running than dancing.

After studio dancing through ninth grade, she  joined RDT for three seasons. She’s been all-conference twice and co-captain and team MVP this year. In grades 10 and 11, her teams were conference champions and state Class AA entrants in both jazz and dance.

“We were really blessed,” said Metz of those experiences including a sixth-place finish in jazz last year.

This year the RDT was conference runner-up, after an St. Cloud Cathedral team joined the Mississippi 8, and didn’t get back to state, because they were moved up to Class AAA in a section with several of the state’s top teams. They had another good season, just against stronger competition.

Metz favors jazz dancing, which she’s always done, over high-kick, which she didn’t start until 10th grade. “Kick is very hard-core and you need lots of endurance,” she grins. Still, Metz performs both equally well, said coach David.

The hardest part of dance team, Metz says, is obviously the training, the running of stairs at school to keep legs toned for all those kicks, and the pushups needed for arm strength for all those formations linking arms.

Her favorite moves are the various leaps, certainly her place to shine. The best part of dance team? “Just being with each other, and the feeling you get when you’re dancing with everyone, because it just makes  you feel at home.”

Her unusual first name seems to suggest a person  devoted to an art, like dancing. About that name, she explains, “My oldest sister, Chelsey, just loved the movie ‘The Littlest Mermaid.’ Mom promised her that if she had sisters, she could name them. She named my sister Ariel, and then named me Arista, after characters in the movie.”

Always ready to embrace a new challenge, Metz hopes to make the U of M dance team, one of the nation’s elite  collegiate groups, next year. If that doesn’t happen she plans to join the U’s club team, the Premier.

The RDT’s last day together, at sectionals in Wayzata last Saturday, was “bittersweet,” she reflected. “There were lots of tears, even before we took the stage for jazz, our last dance. I am definitely going to miss it, and miss my team. But nothing is forever, and you’ve got to move on. There is going to be other great things in my life.”


Arista Metz

Personal file – Age: 18 … Family: parents Anthony and Respa; sisters Chelsey, 29, and Ariel, 20; brothers Mark, 27, Jeff, 24, Sam, 22, and Timmy, 14 … Sport: dance team … Other activities: Fellowship of Christian Athletes, National Honor Society, Link leader, Leo Club (community service) … Academics: 3.75 GPA … College plans: U of M, major undecided

Favorite stuff – Class: jewelry in 9th gade …. TV show: “Fringe” … Movie: “August Rush” … Food: pasta … Drink: apple juice … Team: Twins … Place she’d like to visit: “Peru to see Macchu Pichu!”