Saturday, October 06, 2007

American Heritage Teacher Genchi Takes Over as Ice Dancers Director 

Posted by James at 6:43 AM ET

By Mario Sarmento
Boca Raton News
Nichole Genchi was relaxing at her family home in the Florida Keys when the phone rang. On the other line was her employer, the Florida Panthers.

“I was wondering, why would they call me?” Genchi said.

The Panthers called because they wanted Genchi, who was an Ice Dancer last year, to become the team director.

“I was shocked,” she said. “They actually called me a week before auditions.”

Nichole Genchi
Genchi, who teaches dance at American Heritage-Delray High, had joined the Ice Dancers last year after seeing a flier while attending a Panthers game.

It was the first time the Ice Dancers, the Panthers’ cheerleaders, had ever been assembled. Genchi was no stranger to cheerleading though. She spent the 2004-2005 season with the Miami Dolphins, then took a one-year break to finish a thesis for her bachelor’s degree in dance at Florida International University.

Genchi took a job teaching dance at Heritage soon after, and she also is the director for the Stallions cheerleader and dance teams.

After a successful first season with the Ice Dancers, Genchi has been working hard in preparation for the Panthers’ home opener Saturday against the New Jersey Devils.

Genchi helped design the Ice Dancers’ new uniforms with the assistance of Angela King of Reebok, who designs cheerleader outfits for all teams. Genchi was also part of a photo shoot with some of the Panthers players last Monday for a promotion for Pantherland in BankAtlantic Center, and the Ice Dancers will travel to the Bahamas for a calendar shoot Nov. 14-16 with Sports Illustrated photographer Marc Serota. FSN will be along for a “making of” show that will air shortly afterward.

In addition, Genchi has been choreographing new routines for the girls, who practice three times a week from 7-10 pm in Davie and Sunrise, and last week she had to cut two girls from the team, giving her a final roster of 19.

“It’s really a lot of work,” Genchi said.

But she loves the job, saying it has been better than her experience with the Dolphins.

“I love it because there’s more games,” she said. “We have really good seats, directly in line with the ice.”

The Ice Dancers perform in Sections 109 and 124, on a wooden dance floor the team built for them.
Nichole Genchi

Genchi is hoping to obtain a giant carpet to roll onto the ice during period breaks so the dancers can perform within everyone’s sight. The carpet will be embroidered with the Ice Dancers’ sponsor name, Zero Jewelers.

Genchi said that even with the ice, the temperature is only “slightly chilly. Body warmth from all the people in the seats brings it up. It’s really like dancing in an air-conditioned room. We even sweat out there.”

Genchi admits she didn’t know anything about hockey or like it before she became a dancer, but she said she’s a fan now. The girls take a hockey class each year to familiarize themselves with the sport.

The Ice Dancers will be on hand at a watch party for the team’s first game Thursday at the Original Steakhouse in Coral Springs, where they will appear with mascot Stanley C. Panther from 7-8 pm. The watch party lasts from 6-10 pm.

Genchi and the Ice Dancers will perform for the first time at the Panthers’ home opener Saturday at 7 pm.

As for her plans for the season, Genchi said, “I’m trying to make us better dancers. We were really good last year, but I want us to go to another level.”

Online home of the Florida Panthers Ice Dancers here.

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