Wednesday, March 12, 2008

They Vie to Pump Pride 

Posted by James at 1:16 PM ET

Blue Lightning Hopefuls Fired Up

By Julie Horbal
The Winnipeg Sun
The parallel between operating room and dance studio may not be a clear one, but it's one 26-year-old Lisa hopes lands her a spot on the football field.

Well, make that near the football field.

On the sidelines, to be precise, proudly pumping the Blue and Gold pride.
Blue Lightning Auditions

"It would be so great to -- a few years down the road -- be at a Bombers game, look at the dance team and say, 'Yeah, I used to do that,' " said Lisa, an operating room assistant and nursing student by day, who was one of about 50 women at Canad Inns Stadium yesterday vying for a spot on next season's Blue Lightning dance team.


The seasoned group of dancers and gymnasts demonstrated their flexibility and grace and learned choreography for more than five hours as head coach Dena Clark and a panel of other judges watched on. Little more than half the women who auditioned will make the squad, which the selection committee will whittle down to 32 by March 20.

"There's a big professionalism that has to be displayed at all times," said Lisa, a 17-year dance veteran. "Professionalism, positivity and respect that I think can cross over from medicine to dancing."

The primary focus for this year, Clark said, is putting together the "best possible" team -- a team that's light on its feet, heavy on professionalism and not afraid to put on a show both on the field and off.

"Although we're a cheerleading/dance team, with the environment we perform in the people in the stands aren't necessarily familiar with dance technique," she said. "I look at us as entertainers first."

Because the dancers -- who dedicate their rehearsal and performance time on a volunteer basis -- also appear at community events and must represent the "face" of Winnipeg Blue Bombers spirit, Clark said she pays close attention to attitude and the way women carry themselves during the nearly two-week audition process.


She and the judging panel will delve further into each dancer's personality and commitment during interviews today. Those who can hack it will compete in semifinals Wednesday night and a three-day boot camp next weekend.

Maria, a 19-year-old who hopes to secure a place on the team for the second straight year, said knowing what's expected of the dancers reduces nerves the second time around.

At the same time, however, she said there's a little added pressure that comes with knowing exactly what's on the line.

"Just being around so many empowered women makes (the team) a great environment to be part of," she said. "They're not the stereotypical cheerleaders."

Watch a video of the Blue Lighting tryouts here.

Online home of the Blue Lightning here.

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