Lessons with Liv: Auditioning for that Dream Spot on a Cheerleading Team.

Olivia Sharber

Olivia Sharber
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(Photos courtesy of Olivia Sharber)

By Olivia Sharber

LESSONS WITH LIV

As audition season looms upon us, I have many dancers and students ask me “How do I book that next audition coming up?” As a professional dancer I have navigated my fair share of auditions. Making it to the final rounds of the Cirque du Solei auditions, booking the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and “Making the Team” for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, I find that the same basic elements apply to achieve success. Specifically when it comes to trying out for pro cheer teams, I find these four tips come in very handy when auditioning for that dream spot on a cheerleading team.

TALKING TECHNIQUE

One of the greatest elements about the world of dance is its constant evolution. With the assimilation of social media, YouTube and other various methods of connectivity, we are able to get information at the blink of an eye. This instant accessibility to the information on the change and growth all over the world of dance allows us to constantly push the boundaries.The standards are continuing to be set higher. Young children can now do moves that didn’t even exist five years ago. All of this growth is affecting all areas of dance, including the professional cheer world. Technically trained dancers are coming from drill teams and pom squads who can perform incredible moves, who have great technique, and who are current in the stylized elements required to make a pro team. Do not discount technical ability and what it can bring to the table. Whether or not your experience is from a technical dance background, you will most likely have to do a double pirouette in your team dances. Many teams do a kick line or have battements in their routines that require placement training and technical ability. Have you seen that jump split at the end of the DCC kick line?! This is only the beginning. The technical requirements will continue to evolve and change as more and more talented dancers show up to make themselves a part of these teams. Stay on the fast side of this growing trend and get in class! Another aspect to keep in mind is that many pro teams have an added branch of their team, which includes a select group of technically trained dancers who not only do the style necessary for performing at games, but also put on entire variety shows including all styles of dance! Take the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and their elite group of performers on their Showgroup for instance. Point being: GET IN CLASS, and not just any class, a technique class. If you are in pro league classes that are only adding to the stylized element of the team you want to make, that is great! BUT, make sure you are adding a class to your regimen that will help improve your technical ability as well. Do not show up to an audition killing the dance combination and then have yourself cut because you cannot kick above 90 degrees, or because you cannot effectively demonstrate a double pirouette in tennis shoes. Trust me, it disappoints the judges almost as much as it disappoints us when we do this. Think pirouettes, battements, flexibility, feet articulation and core strength.

FITNESS and FLEXIBILITY

We all know how valuable this is! You must find a way to do whatever works for your body to ensure you look your best. I am so proud of the way our world is evolving to accept women of all shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, however, the dance world is a visual and aesthetic world. Not only is it important to be fit for the athletic things required of you; but you have to look fit as well. It’s part of the decision and you cannot deny this truth, or you do yourself a disservice. With fitness being laid out as one of the integral parts of this job you must also make sure the fitness regimen you are incorporating into your journey does not affect your flexibility.You cannot downsize the importance of flexibility in any dance career choice. Not only is flexibility required for the moves and many of the most iconic facets of these teams, but you also need it to prevent injury throughout your career. Muscle tightness and lack of mobility is a huge contributor to injuries. I recommend incorporating yoga or a Pilates work out to your personal fitness regimen. Find something that not only strengthens but also lengthens your muscles. You can always add your own personal stretching regimen to your daily routine as well. Stretching before bed is a great stress reliever or right after a hot shower or bath is a great time to do that as well!

BE YOURSELF

Stay true to yourself….ALWAYS! Focus on your strengths; not the strengths of the next person. Most professional cheerleading teams have lots of diversity. Judges are looking for individuality. Many professional dance jobs are looking to hire only a certain type, certain look, certain build and set of skills that fit the role they are looking to book. Professional cheerleading teams are not like this. They want the best of everything. So figure that out for yourself. What is your best asset? What is the best thing you have to offer that will benefit a team environment? I promise when you find what this is and deliver it in a true and honest way, your judges and hopeful future directors will be enticed!

BE OK WITH “NO”

Being realistic about the word “no,” and accepting “no” as failure are two very different things. You must make yourself comfortable with the fact that you might get a “no.” “No” does NOT always mean you are not good enough. Possibly it just means that this year isn’t your year. Maybe you are brunette and they already have enough brunettes. Maybe you came lacking in the flexibility department; which can easily be improved. Possibly the team just did not have that many slots to fill. If you were number 10 on the judges list out of 300 hopefuls, you would consider that great right? Well, if the team only has 6 spots to fill then you still don’t make the cut. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t a great possibility for this team when they eventually have more spots open. Judges very often find themselves having to make very hard decisions they would rather not have to make. Don’t let this be the reason you give up. Continue what you are doing. Keep yourself in the game and stay relevant. Go to the games and performances of the team you want to make. Stay in the prep class loop. Try out for another team while you are working towards next year’s auditions. Instead of allowing “no” to ruin you, allow it make you better. Benefit from it. Sometimes people come back from a “no” better then they were the first time

Olivia Sharber grew up in Dallas, Texas where she received her early training from the Academy of Dance Arts and the Dallas Repertoire Ballet. From there she studied on scholarship at the University of Arizona.< After obtaining her Bachelor’s Degree in Dance Performance, she furthered her training and performance repertoire with Odyssey Dance Theatre in Salt Lake City, Utah; touring Germany and Austria. She has performed for three seasons with the Radio City Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular. Olivia has appeared in such musical theatre roles as LouAnn in Hairspray, the Lead Tango Dancer in Evita, and most notably as Victoria in Cats. Olivia toured and performed with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders for two seasons in 2012 and 2013 and was one of 6 asked to stay on for an extra year as an All Star cheerleader. During both her rookie DCC season and veteran season she was a member of their elite Showgroup team and toured over 6 different countries performing with them. Olivia not only has a bachelor’s degree in dance technique and performance but is also certified in the Cecchetti Method (ballet) and has 10 years of dance teaching experience. She is a three-year Pilates instructor at Beyond Pilates in Dallas, Texas, one of the top Pilates studios in Dallas. Olivia is a busy professional, constantly touring the US to teach at various studios. She also travels regularly as a judge and commentator for Platinum National Dance competition.

Follow her on Instagram at @oliviarene14

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