Do you live in New York, Philly or in close proximity to either of these areas or are you looking to relocate to the area, and have had the deep desire to cheer for a professional team? If so, then you are in luck! After speaking with a few professional cheerleaders, Gillian, Maria and Christie, who have not only cheered professionally, but have also tried out for a number of other teams in the area, we have put together some pointers to hopefully help direct which team(s) you choose when stepping into the rigid competition of cheerleading.
The teams covered in this article span New York’s presence in NBA, NFL, and Lacrosse including; New York Lizards, Gotham City Cheerleaders, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets, Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, and Philadelphia 76ers.
You know yourself best. You know your strengths and your weaknesses. Having a desire to perform and knowing in what area of dance you excel, will help in choosing the best team(s) that fits for you. Not every team is looking for the same type of cheerleader. Just like on Hard Knocks this year with the Houston Texans, Coach Bill O’Brien knew that Charles James would be a fantastic cornerback and had a hard time letting him go, but it’s not what they needed on the Texans this year and with only 53 spots they had to go with other talent. With cheerleading the same rules apply. What does the team need that year, do they need a strong hip-hop, jazz, or high-kick style dancer, or do they need a certain demographic, or maybe they need someone with strong communication skills who excels with media. What is that, ”IT” factor that the teams are looking for this particular year, and do YOU have “IT”?
First things first, before you even walk into the arena, onto the field or into the gym, in what style of dance do you excel? Maria digs deep to try and decipher the dance styles for each of the teams she either danced on and/or tried out for, she states, “The Nets look for hip-hop, almost street style, they incorporate some technique, as well as a hint of jazz. The Nets do a wide variety, so you have to be adaptable, but if I had to pick one, they lean towards that hip-hop, street jazz style…The 76ers are more jazz based with a hint of hip hop. The Knicks influence is more jazz, almost theater centered. They have been experimenting with their style the last few seasons though, so it could change in the next year’s tryout”. In Gillian’s opinion she says the Knicks have an, “intense style; very technical-based. They tend to gravitate toward a very well trained team, which incorporates lyrical, ballet, and hip-hop. Technical dance training is a necessity, ballet especially. As for the Lizards, which Maria is still a part of, Maria says, “they are pretty evenly split between the jazz feel and the hip-hop flair”. “The Jets have a fun and sassy style, but also feature kick-lines in their routines, so flexibility is a must,” says Gillian. Gillian, who is a former Gotham City Cheerleader, and says their style is, “jazz with a street flair, sometimes they dabble in theater as well as sassy hip-hop”.
Now that you have indicated what style of dance you shine in, can you freestyle? Every team except one, from all of the Northeastern teams these
Third can you pick up choreography? For most of the teams, if not the first round, the second round you are required to learn a few eight counts and then perform them. If your weakness is quick paced learning of routines, maybe the Eagles are for you! Gillian said, ”The Eagles tryout was very efficient. The routine is taught for round one. Some teams such as the Eagles teach their round one routine at their prep camp, which gives you a leg up at tryouts.
If you didn’t make it to prep camp though, you can practice round one as many times as possible while you are waiting for your number to be called. What I mean by that is, the Eagles staff brings you into a ‘waiting room’ and play the round 1 music over and over, so you can practice as much as you would like, until your tryout number is called to perform before the judges. The dances are fairly easy to catch on to.” Gillian went on further in saying, “The coach of the Eagles stated in one of the prep classes that she wants to give you the moves before tryouts to make sure you showcase your personality.”