Teaching the Next Generation of Strong Women
What does it take to change the culture of a team and turn it into an elite and competitive group? The easy answer is to look at what the Edina Dance Team (EDT) has done over the last decade, where Kristin Biwan and her coaching staff have completely revitalized the program and now compete with the best schools in the state every year.
Kristin has been coaching the Edina Dance Team since 2011 and brought with her a dancing career that spans many years and includes national and global championships. She started dancing as soon as she could walk and quickly fell in love with the sport, eventually traveling the nation, to train and compete.
“I am thankful for my parents supporting my passion because I pretty much took advantage of every possible training opportunity I could,” she explains. “I traveled across the country taking workshops and even trained at professional ballet schools in both Kansas and Washington DC for weeks at a time.”
Once she entered college, she knew that dance was going to be a part of her career, so she double majored in Dance and Communication Studies from the University of Minnesota. Dancing all day for school apparently wasn’t enough for her, so she tried out for the University of Minnesota Dance Team and became a 3-year member of the dance team and was a senior captain when they won two National titles and two World Championships.
While she competed for National and World Championships, Kristin was also coaching for Universal Dance Association and traveling around the country teaching at summer camps for high school and college dancers. As she coached, she quickly realized that she loved teaching younger dancers to be the best that they can be.
“I love being able to help dancers make progress and watch them feel that success when they themselves realize the growth they have made,” Kristin says. “There are always ups and downs, but I couldn’t imagine who I would be without having the coaching role in my life.”
After college, Kristin was hired to be the next Edina Dance Team Head Coach and was tasked with turning around the team and creating a space that every Edina dancer wanted to be a part of.
“The dance team has come a long way, when I first started it was hard to get the kids to think of the program as a competitive team versus a social club,” Kristin explains. “But even in the first year we made huge strides and the mindset shifted. Then every year after that we kept hitting “program firsts” and the team was starting to see the payoff for working hard.”
The program hit a turning point in 2015 when the team made it to state for the first time and the athletes started to believe that they could be elite and competitive with the other top programs in the state. Then history was made in 2019, when for the first time the dance team tied for first place but ended in second due to the tie breaker.
“This was probably one of the craziest days in all 5 years on the Varsity team for not only me, but the coaches and the entire program,” Nola Winje, a former senior captain who now dances for Kristin’s alma-mater the University of Minnesota, describes.
When coaching, Kristin not only pushes her dancers to be leaders and elite dancers, but she also pushes them out of their comfort zone to become the best person that they can be.
“I grew the most as a dancer through EDT but I also grew more as an athlete and person. I became the best version of myself,” Nola says. “I didn’t spend a lot of time at home the 5 years I was on the team because I was always at practice, so coach played a huge role in “raising” me and my teammates by how she coaches with little life lessons during the time we are in practice.”
Kristin and her fellow coaching staff want to bring this empowerment and passion to younger girls who aren’t old enough to be a part of their 7th-12th grade Edina Dance Team, so they are starting a 6th grade Edina Dance Club. The club will meet once a week where 6th graders can get a taste of the Edina Dance Team Program with EDT coaching staff and current EDT dancers.
“A goal of EDT is to create strong women not only in dance but also in life. We want to help shape our next generation of young women to be empowered to achieve their personal and team goals,” Kristin describes. “Being a part of EDT is also gaining a connection to a group of athletes that also become great friends for life.”
Kristin hopes this club inspires the next generation of Edina dancers to join a close-knit and growing family and to find a new passion in life that pushes you to be great.
“We hope to build this club moving forward for years to come as a start to dancers in the Edina community to get a taste of what EDT is like without a large commitment,” Kristin concludes. “We have wanted to do something to help our middle schoolers feel more connected to dance from the start and we are so excited it's happening now!”