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Monday, July 09, 2007

NHC student joins Dynamo Girls 

Posted by Sasha at 4:48 PM ET

By Sarah Parker, News Editor
The Observer
06/29/2007


Nicole Smith, a dance student at North Harris College, was recently selected as a member of the Dynamo Girls, the dance team for Houston's championship soccer team.

Smith, 32, was always passionate about dance, but began intently focusing on it at an age that many dancers begin dejectedly hanging up their shoes.

"Most dancers start at a very young age and most people consider starting at 18 years of age...very late," said Smith, in a NHC press release. While she has danced her entire life, she started formally training at age 27.

"I wanted to enhance what I was doing and become better. I decided to go back and educate myself on this wonderful world of dance," she said. Smith, a graduate of Oral Roberts University, recently enrolled at NHC to take dance classes with the intent of teaching dance.

She currently heads Step It Up, a non profit dance company that holds after-school programs to teach kids to dance.

Working with Alief and Conroe ISD students, Step It Up teaches Latin and hop hop dancing.

Smith's first professional job in dance came later on in her life, too.

In college, a friend asked Smith to help her church's dance group. She and her friends would hide their dancing to keep from getting in trouble at the conservative university.

"I went to a private Christian school and we weren't allowed to dance. We had to dance in secret," she laughed. "People started asking our group to come dance around the city and we were concerned with being found out."

Since childhood, Smith has always felt passionately about dance. A self-described "Army brat" who moved every few years, Smith is the American-born daughter of Panamanian immigrants. "I grew up dancing Latin and Caribbean dances," she said. "I loved it. It came naturally."

Along with Step It Up, Smith currently works for Clear Channel and learned that the Dynamo Girls were accepting applications from a co-worker. She wasn't working the day that the announcement was made, but some of her co-workers made sure she heard about it.

"If I had found out about it on my own, I might not have even done it. People that worked there made sure I got involved and went. I'm so glad I went, though," said Smith.

The auditions, held in late March, were rigorous-particularly when those auditioning were made to learn two different dances. Smith said that although she didn't find the dances particularly difficult, she had never had to learn dances in such a short amount of time.

"It was kind of tough for me. I didn't think I was going to make the team," she said. "My big talent before making the Dynamo Girls was that I had almost made every other team I'd tried out for," she joked.

Smith had previously tried out for other sports teams squads, including the Miami Dolphins, often coming one person away from making the team. In the try-out for the Dynamo Girls, "I messed up royally about 95 percent of the time," she said. "When everyone would be up, I would be down and vice versa."

Smith was so surprised when she found out she made the team that she went to the person making the announcement and double-checked that she actually made it. "There was a phenomenal dancer-she was so good-and her number was 17. Mine was seven. When they called it, I went on up to them and asked, 'Are you sure you meant number 7 and not 17?'"

Like most athletes, Smith struggled with the mental aspect of her audition as well-in this case, she had to dismiss her reservations about being an older dancer competing against girls who had been training all their lives.

"'I had to overcome the challenge of being the oldest person in the room. It was a psychological issue-the other girls had been dancing since childhood or for years."

Of being on the team, Smith said that she enjoyed and loved it. Part of her duties include making community appearances, which puts Smith in a familiar position-although with the Dynamo Girls, she no longer has to hide them.

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