The Minnesota State High School League said Sunday it will investigate the circumstances of the awards ceremony at Saturday night's Class AAA State High Kick Championships, after five teams intentionally disqualified themselves from receiving awards because they maintained the winner, the Faribault Emeralds, did not use original choreography.
Minnesota's top high school dance teams competed for the state title Saturday at the Target Center in Minneapolis.
The Star Tribune reports that the Faribault squad was awarded first place in their class, but tournament officials did not give awards for runners up because of the protest.
The Faribault Daily News reported the other dance teams stood close together during the awards ceremony, not in their assigned spots.
The public address announcer twice asked those teams – from Wayzata, Eastview, Chaska, Lakeville South, and Eden Prairie – to move back to their original spots on the court or, he warned, they wouldn't receive their awards.
They stayed put and were disqualified.
In a statement released Sunday afternoon, the High School League reiterated that it was alerted to the plagiarism claim, investigated it and ruled earlier in the week that the Faribault dance team was not guilty of accusations that they had copied their routine.
On Thursday, the MSHSL sent letters to that effect to dance coaches with teams participating at the state competition.
The league did say it will "further investigate what took place during the Class AAA awards ceremony. League staff and the Board of Directors will determine a course of action after that investigation is complete," according to the statement.
A YouTube video creates a split screen airing of the Faribault squad's choreography next to the performance of another team; the juxtaposition shows the side-by-side routines. It went on the video sharing site a week ago, posted by a user called "Justicefor Danceteam."
The controversy is blowing up with a post on Deadspin, which likens the conflict to a real life version of the cheerleading movie "Bring It On," which has a similar issue at its dramatic center.
Faribault dance coach Lois Krinke acknowledged her team used moves they had viewed in a video of a routine by a team in another state, but she told the Daily News that her team's win was "fair and square." She called the other teams "poor sports."
"We're excited, the girls are really excited," she said. "We're the top team in the state and if they didn't want their second- and third-place medals, I couldn't care less. We got the first-place medal.”
“I was so confused,” said Faribault's senior captain Abbie Meehl. “I felt really heartbroken. That kind of hurt me just knowing that they’re not with us and they don’t have good sportsmanship.