Thursday, October 18, 2007

Women take shot at making Rampage dance team 

Posted by Sasha at 4:22 PM ET

Monday, October 15, 2007
By Rachael Recker
The Grand Rapids Press

ROCKFORD -- Go big or go home.

That's what Grand Rapids resident Jennifer Stewart kept saying to herself through every twist, leap and pivot as she and a room full of other women practiced a 45-second dance routine during tryouts for the Grand Rapids Rampage Rage Dance Team.

"We were concentrating so hard, you forget to (smile)," Stewart, 21, said. "It doesn't sound like (learning a 45-second routine) would be hard, but it is."

Stewart was one of 47 West Michigan women who showed up Sunday for the tryouts at MVP Athletic Club in Rockford.

"It was more than last year, and we're very pleased about that," said Alex Clark, Rampage director of media relations.

Only 30 tried out last year, and Rampage officials hope to attract 75-100 in future tryouts for the "premier dance team in West Michigan," he said.

The fact that the Rage is a professional organization of talented role models and dancers has been somewhat "lost in the West Michigan landscape," Clark said. Dancers are paid a fee per game, he added.

Sunday's hopefuls were narrowed down to 34 after being tested on leaping, toe touching and pirouette ability. The hopefuls then learned a dance routine to perform Oct. 21 when the final 20 members will be selected. They also completed individual interviews with Rage personnel.

"We're constantly looking for the best team," Clark said.

The Rampage wants young girls to be able to "look up to these women" as role models who display great personalities, strengths and goals, Clark said.

"We want them to be seen as women out in the community, not just strong dancers," he said.

Only one tryout was held for the 2008 team. The majority of applicants came from Grand Valley State University and Grand Rapids Community College. Dancers must be at least 18 and have a high school diploma. Most applicants were 19 to 22.

More than age, Rampage director of dance Connie Butler is looking for "the complete package" -- those who have dance ability, are well-versed, physically able, comfortable in front of a camera and exude positive energy.

And they have to be quick on their feet.

"I've been impressed with how quickly they picked up on the choreography," she said.

This year's squad of 20 dancers will be split up into two groups: a technical team and a sideline-dancing team.

The technical team will do pre-game, halftime and sideline/endzone dancing. The other will complement the technical team in sideline dancing.

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