Faribault dance coach: ‘I stand behind what we put out there’
Two days after several teams joined together in an apparent protest of her dance team's routine, Faribault coach Lois Krinke said Monday she stands behind the Emeralds' routine, which has drawn accusations of plagiarism.
In a story that has been thrust into the national spotlight, the Faribault Emeralds dance team won the Class AAA State High Kick Championships on Saturday at Target Center, while the five other finalist teams united together in apparent protest during the awards ceremony. The controversy came after the Minnesota State High School League investigated and cleared the Emeralds of plagiarism accusations earlier in the week.
"Yes, I stand behind what we put out there," Krinke said when asked by the Daily News on Monday.
Krinke's comments come one day after the MSHSL issued a statement saying it will investigate the events of the Class AAA awards ceremony.
It's unclear what may come of the league's investigation. An MSHSL spokesperson told the Daily News on Monday that the state high school league had no comment.
"League staff and the Board of Directors will determine a course of action after that investigation is complete," the statement read.
The Emeralds were accused of stealing the alien-themed routine from the Copper Hills Azurettes from Utah, according to media reports. A YouTube clip edited to show the two teams performing their routines side-by-side circulated Twitter after the state championships (Krinke says Faribault's music has been altered in the video).
Faribault used two non-consecutive four-count moves from the Copper Hills routine in their high kick performance, according to Krinke.
The state high school league reviewed the allegations and cleared Faribault to perform at state, according to Krinke and Faribault Athletic Director Ken Hubert. Hubert was notified of the allegations on Monday.
In a statement issued Sunday, the high school league said it was notified on Feb. 9 of a possible rule violation during a section high kick competition. On Feb. 11, league staff and dance team rules coordinators determined a violation had not occurred. The ruling was emailed to coaches of state high kick participants on Feb. 12.
Krinke has contended the Emeralds did not plagiarize the Azurettes but used their dance as inspiration for the Emeralds' routine. She also says the two routines have striking differences, such as style of dance, length of the routine and music arrangement, among others.
Drawing inspiration from other sources is common in high school dance, Krinke said.
"I stand by what we did," Krinke said. "Like I said on the radio, if they're going to come after me for using a couple moves that have been done many times around the state of Minnesota, then they need to look at all these other dance teams that go to all these private dance studios in the Cities, and they get dances from these studios and take them back to the high school and use them."
Shannon Mortensen, the Copper Hills dance coach, told WCCO-TV in a story that aired on Sunday that the Emeralds copied significant portions of their dance.
"They copied costuming, music, the theme and choreography, so it's more than just they stole a few movements here and there," Mortensen said.
When reached for comment, an Emerald dancer said the Emeralds have been asked by their coach not to comment at this time.
During the awards ceremony on Saturday, Faribault stood on one end of the court while the five other finalist teams — Wayzata, Eastview, Chaska, Lakeville South and Eden Prairie — stood together on the other side. Many held hands.
"It was the most lonely feeling standing there on the floor," Krinke said. "It seemed like it would never end."
The five teams declined to return to their spots on the floor, even at the warning of losing their medals. As a result, Faribault was the only team to receive its medals and trophy.
"I'm extremely proud of the girls, they were fantastic," said Hubert, the athletic director. "I'm very disappointed in what took place obviously. It wasn't fun. It was ugly. It was not the way high school athletics are supposed to be."
Krinke also said after the awards ceremony several teams gathered and screamed outside of the Emeralds' dressing room.
"To me that was nothing short of bullying," Krinke said.
Messages left for four of the five non-winning teams were not returned to the Daily News as of press time.
On Tuesday, Faribault High School will host a pepfest celebrating the Emeralds' state title. The Emeralds also will be honored at halftime of the Falcons girls basketball team's game against Rochester Mayo, which starts at 7:30 p.m.
Frankie McIntyre, a former Emeralds captain who graduated last year, also has kickstarted a Twitter campaign to show support for the Emeralds. McIntyre, who can't attend the pepfest, circulated instructions via social media that ask Emeralds alumni to post a picture on Twitter with their former warm-up jackets on Tuesday with the hashtag "#FEDTProud."
McIntyre, who attend Saturday's state championships, said hostility from other teams isn't new for the Emeralds, who have jumped between Class AAA to Class AA over the years.
"We've never really been that great with all of the metro teams," McIntryre said. "But the funny thing is, I was going to go and (be a) fall coach for Lakeville South, and as of Saturday, I'm so glad that I didn't.
"I have never been more disgusted with the actions that have happened."