Thursday, August 02, 2007

Cheerleaders hone skills at workshop in La Quinta 

Posted by Sasha at 1:49 PM ET

Wednesday, August 1, 2007
By Melissa Eiselein
The Press-Enterprise

Video: Performances by professional dance teams

Cheerleaders from 80 professional sports teams including the National Football League's Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons showed off their dance skills Wednesday at the ProDance workshop in La Quinta.

They came to hone their skills and learn new dance techniques from 11 top-notch choreographers including Michael "Mikey" Minden and husband-wife team Napoleon and Tabitha D'umo, said ProDance founder Rosalyn Jones.

Last year, Minden, of Los Angeles, won MTV's Best Dance Video award and VH1's Best Video of the Year award for the Pussycat Dolls' "Buttons" music video. Tabitha D'umo said she was the assistant choreographer for Christina Aguilera's and Ricky Martin's recent world tours.

In all, about 300 professional and university sports dancers from Canada, Japan and the U.S. attended the four-day workshop that began Sunday, Jones said.

NFL Falcons cheerleader Sandra Fields said she was worried she wouldn't be able to keep up with the dozens of choreographed routines taught at the workshop. She surprised herself, she said.

"I learned how to relax," Fields said. "I learned to just trust myself."

Jones founded ProDance eight years ago as a way for professional cheerleaders and choreographers to share their skills. In previous years, she has hosted the workshop in San Antonio, Las Vegas and Miami. Next year, the workshop will be in Chicago, she said.

"There's cheer camp for middle-schoolers and high-schoolers, but there wasn't anything out there for professionals," Jones said. "Professional sports dancing is highly specialized."

Jones, former choreographer for the San Antonio Spurs Silver Dancers, was born at March Air Reserve Base and spent the first two years of her life in Riverside. Now, she lives in San Antonio, she said.

University of Memphis cheerleader Christina Conrad said she hopes to learn tips from the choreographers and professionals that can help her reach pro-sports status. Conrad said she hopes to one day cheer for the Memphis Grizzlies basketball team.

Courtney Astorino, a cheerleader at Cal State Fullerton, said she was thrilled by the opportunity to dance side-by-side with professional sports cheerleaders.

"We feed off them because they are such an inspiration," said Astorino, of Fullerton.

The sentiment was similar among the professionals.

"There's always something new to learn. We get inspiration from the other teams," said NFL Denver Broncos cheerleader Kim Taylor.

Four members of the Broncos cheer team attended the workshop, said Broncos cheerleader Candice Jones.

"We split up so we'd each have something different to bring back," Jones said.