Sunday, March 30, 2008

DCC Prep Class: Behind The Scenes

IRVING, Texas - Imagine two scenarios. In the first, you park your car at Texas Stadium for the first round of DCC Auditions, nerves in full swing, wondering if you really should have tried this new hairstyle today and debating between wearing the blue or the red (you've packed both since you're just not sure). Your bag is extra heavy because you haven't really figured out which shoes to wear yet --the dance shoe, the high heeled shoe, or the sneaker?? You walk up to take your place in line, not quite knowing anyone else standing there and you are just hoping your internal butterflies will decide to take a rest... sooner than later.

In our second scenario, you park at the stadium and look for your new friends (you met them at the official prep classes and have been gossiping with them, dancing in the DCC studio and getting geared up for the big day together for weeks). You are armed with the perfect audition outfit and hairstyle... You know this because you asked the staff at the official DCC Prep classes and they gave you some real advice and tips. You are excited but relaxed too because you've had a weekly preparatory class where every single question you can imagine has been answered; you have been rehearsing the style with the DCC veterans and now it's up to you to go have fun and if all goes well, claim your spot to the next round.

Every year the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders hold a series of Official Prep Classes to give all interested applicants an edge in the process. Some applicants choose to attend all available classes and some attend just one or two. The classes are valuable on so many levels. The first and most obvious is that applicants can get some level of comfort by attending even just one class. There's the opportunity to ask questions each week, get one-on-one advice about personal audition-day appearance, and to practice the type of dancing that the Cheerleaders are famous for. There are also killer stretches and challenging warm-ups in each class.

DCC hopeful, Jacqueline Hardy has added to her skills set including the dance terminology taught in Prep Classes. "When they say 'kick ball change, pas de bouree, and pirouette', I'll know what they're talking about now."

Jennifer Devendorf another of the applicants adds, "I think it's a great opportunity to not only learn the choreography, but to learn the style, and really get a feel for the technique and also get a chance to work on our flexibility."

There are even more reasons to attend. This is important so listen up... To show up every week and get a chance to say, "Hello," personally to the DCC staff is a smart move. Listen, you've got about two minutes to make a lasting impression at the Preliminary round of auditions. Prep classes afford each applicant an opportunity to maximize their exposure and face-time. After all, these classes are held by the actual DCC staff and veterans.

Shelly Bramhall, Associate Choreographer for the team also directs many of the Prep classes. She explains the elements of the classes. "We try to cover our traditional walk, kicks, turns, and a combination every week in the style that we perform at the football games."

Additionally, coming to class shows that you are committed and very interested in doing what it takes to make this elite team.

Bramhall adds another nugget of inside information, "The girls walk in the door and Judy Trammell (official team choreographer) gets a chance to peek in and see them in class. She then has an idea about their strengths over a twelve week period."

This can be very advantageous when a strong applicant struggles with an off-day during the audition. Trammell has the ability to defend the candidate to the panel of judges because she's watched them work over a period of time.

While the classes are a smart step in the audition process, they're simply fun too. Ladies are ushered through the hallowed halls of the Dallas Cowboys Complex, into the brightly lit DCC studio for an evening of heart pumping warm ups, combinations and choreography. While auditioning may be serious business, prep classes allow for some light moments and kidding around with current and past Cheerleaders and staff.

Stefani Peterson enjoys the Prep class series, "Meeting new people, making new friends and dancing the different styles has been fun; plus it's neat to dance with the Cheerleaders."

Peterson's thoughts must be shared by many this year. The classes have been so popular that after filling to maximum capacity, additional classes were recently added to the schedule to meet the demand.

It seems that attending Prep Classes calms the nerves both on a weekly basis and on audition day. An applicant can't really know this until she appears at the first day of auditions, but the process is both exhilarating and unavoidably overwhelming. Why not take advantage of being prepared to the fullest while auditioning with 40-plus familiar faces? There's nothing better than having a friend encourage you just before or after you've performed for the judges.

Now, if there were just prep classes for all the rest of those interesting challenges out there!