Saturday, February 02, 2008

Interview: Marilu Harman, Dynamo Girl Try-Outs 

Posted by James at 5:11 PM ET

From Houstonist.com
Fresh off the heels of winning a second consecutive MLS Cup championship, the Houston Dynamo are preparing to fill out their cheerleading squad this month. With preliminary auditions set to take place on February 16 from 9am-6pm, the Dynamo Girls are looking for a few good women. Houstonist caught up with Team Director Marilu Harman to find out just what it takes to be a Dynamo Girl, whether the squad members spend any time with the players, and whether any regular Joanna off the street has a legitimate chance to make the squad.

Q: First of all, congratulations to the Houston Dynamo on winning their second straight championship. Do the cheerleaders ever get to touch the MLS cups?

A: Every game!

Q: Has the championship hardware every been incorporated into any dance routines?

A: No - but excellent idea!
Dynamo Girl
Q: Why, thank you. It's nice to know that our 3rd grade English teacher was wrong about us. Now let's get back on topic. In three words, please describe the prototypical “Dynamo Girl.”

A: Dynamic! Talented! Personable/Friendly

Q: Well, that was four words, but we’ll forgive you! So, sell the women of Houston on the perks of being a member of the squad. What is the best part about being a Dynamo Girl?

A: The fun and friendships they have on the team and dancing on the field for the Houston Dynamo fans.

Q: In journalism school we were taught to always report both sides of a story to be fair and balanced. So we have to ask - what is the worst part?

A: Having to leave at the end of the season.

Q: How much practicing is involved for a Dynamo Girl?

A: 3 – 4 rehearsals a week for three hours each, plus game day pre-game practice.

Q: Wow, that sounds intense! What are the financial benefits of being a squad member and committing to all of that practice time?

A: There are lots of perks! Like hair with Tony and Guy and teeth whitening with Dr. Su, DDS. Plus free workouts at 24 Hour Fitness, and the list goes on. Plus the girls make an hourly wage for practices and games, as well as appearance fees for various public appearances.

Q: Sounds great! Speaking of perks, is the age old adage true about cheerleaders and ballplayers not being able to “fraternize?” Or is that just a myth?

A: No fraternizing is allowed.

Q: Well, that was straight and to the point. Understood! Let’s discuss the 2008 tryouts in specific. How many positions are available this year?

A: Depends on the talent level we get at auditions.

Q: OK, but how many girls would you like to select in the preliminary auditions?

A: Anywhere from 30 – 50 girls.

Q: And the final auditions?

A: We would like anywhere from 16-20 girls, but again all of this depends on the talent level.

Q: Walk us through the audition process. What are participants asked to do?

A: Last year we taught two routines to all of the girls, which they performed in groups. This year we may ask for a free-style, but the decision has not yet been made.

Q: Wow, free-style? Sounds tough. So I probably need to have a cheerleading or dance background to have a real chance to make the squad, right?

A: Walk-ons are a huge part of auditions. Every person that truly wants to try should come out and do it. Every learning experience teaches you how to prepare and be your best. I have auditioned dancers for over 15 years and walk-ons have been the most surprising and some of the most talented dancers. Dance is in the soul – if someone is teachable and has their own style but has not been trained, it definitely does not hurt their chances to make the squad.

Q: You’ve got us all pumped and ready to try-out for the squad ourselves! But we won’t. Alas, we have a serious condition known as two-left-feet-itis. Speaking of chances to make the squad, how does judging work for this competition?

A: There is a panel of judges that choose the girls in each round. They are very fair and want each girl to show and do her best.

Q: What exactly are the judges looking for?

A: Girls with personality, presence, poise, energy, and the ability to learn dance. The participant needs to have confidence in her ability, yet also be trainable.

Q: Let’s say we are able to overcome our serious condition and muster up the courage to try out on February 16th for the preliminary auditions. What advice would you give us?

A: Just enjoy the process. Make friends on that day to make the process go smoother, and come prepared. Get plenty of rest, bring energy snacks and drinks, and have all the required materials ready. On that day, practice every chance you get until it’s time to audition. And of course, ask for help!

Thanks for your time Marilu.

Dynamo Girl Try-Outs
Preliminary Auditions: Feb. 16
For more information call 713-276-7526 or visit HoustonDynamo.com

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