Sunday, August 19, 2007

'8th & I': Performing For the U.S. Marines 

Posted by Sasha at 3:01 PM ET

August 8, 2007

Recently, the Redskins Cheerleader rookies had an opportunity to do a "tour in a day." Essentially, we got the first look at an actual military tour the Redskins often take--however, much closer to home.

The "8th and I" Marine Barracks in downtown Washington, D.C., is a favorite of Redskins Cheerleaders Director Donald Wells. He sets up a small variety show performance to entertain the men and women serving in our nation's capital.

We only had a week and a half to practice and perfect multiple routines. Most variety shows would consist of an equal number of rookies and veterans or perhaps more veteran cheerleaders, but this one just wouldn't work that way.

Of the girls available for this show on a Thursday afternoon, most were rookies. That created two dilemmas: we would have to cut some routines as most the girls didn't know them or have time to learn them all, and the "newbies" would also have an opportunity to rise to the occasion of performing a full variety show.

That afternoon was a beautiful, sunny, and hot Washington day. One veteran cheerleader said dancing in the heat that day was almost like dancing in the desert of the Middle East.

We began the day by taking photos with the color guard. They are the men that perform and attend functions on behalf of the Marines displaying flags of the nation and Marine Corps.

The show took place on their parade practice grounds, made of field turf. Though FedExField does not have field turf, I am sure many of you are aware how hot it can get. Underneath the green carpet surface are millions of small black rubber pellets soaking up the sun and heating our feet.

Our first routine was in our new uniforms. We performed a routine we learned in final auditions. Though the performance only lasts thirty minutes or so, the constant dancing and movement makes it hard to stay cute, especially in near 100 degree temperatures.

The final performance was our new military routine. These were the fan favorites of the day. Our military routine includes new uniforms representing each branch of the military, and a section of the dance was dedicated to each branch as well.

The Marines loved it, of course--the marine part was their particular favorite. The last song is set to "God Bless the USA." All the marines sang along. It was spontaneous, though an outsider might have thought they were prodded.

The day was a huge success! Were the dances perfect? Well, let's just say marines are the best fans and I think they would have applauded if we would have played hopscotch for them. We did get to send our appreciation to them for giving of themselves to our country and our freedom.

We also thanked them for being a great audience. Some rookies got out their first performance jitters, which is a blessing in itself.

The night ended with autograph signings and pictures. We also had the opportunity to pass out tee-shirts to all the Marines.

Many thanks to our sponsors: EES, LLC and SAIC. Their support allows us to produce t-shirts and uniforms we need to make each performance a success!

One more rookie hurdle is behind us, and it promises to get better from here.

See you at the games!

~ Anna

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