Saturday, April 12, 2008

Dolphins Final Cheerleader Auditions On Saturday At Aventura Mall 

Posted by Sasha at 7:22 PM ET

By Andy Kent
Special for MiamiDolphins.com
April 10, 2008

Just as there really is no offseason for the football players, the same can be said for the Miami Dolphins cheerleaders. And the 28 veterans from last year's squad vying for a spot on the 2008 version have seen their regimen intensify this week as the final selection, to be made Saturday after a live performance at the Aventura Mall, draws closer.

Even though the 2007 season officially came to an end with Miami's loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 30, the cheerleaders remained in high demand as business clients continued to arrange for appearances to be made by the girls. So while this year's crop of potential newcomers were readying themselves for last Saturday's open auditions at Dolphin Stadium, veterans like Missy and Irievy were still acting the part and at the same time trying to give themselves an edge for the final round.

"This will be my third year with the Dolphins, that's if they decide to take me back this year, and I have to tell you, I'm very surprised because the stress level is a lot higher but it's completely different," Missy said. "It's different because your first year you don't know what to expect, you're kind of fresh and new and so you're stressed in that way.

"In your second year you're still proving yourself. You've had a year to kind of get through it but it's still more about proving yourself, whereas this year they know what you can do. The coaches, the judges, they know your potential, so now it's more of you don't want to disappoint them."

Beginning this past Monday, Missy, Irievy and the 26 other returning cheerleaders joined the more than 50 girls that made it through last Saturday's auditions in a tedious process that included one-on-one interviews and then three nights of rehearsals at the team's practice facility in Davie. On Tuesday and Wednesday nights they were inside the practice bubble working for nearly four hours on the kick line and two different dance routines, with the threat of being cut before the weekend looming over their heads.

Emily Newton, the squad's Coordinator/Director, wound up having to deliver the bad news to one girl Wednesday night a little less than an hour into the session. There were two more cuts on her list, but they didn't show up, sparing Newton the stress of having to let them go, but she did have conversations with a handful of other girls letting them know that they were on the fence and telling them what they needed to work on.

"As a judge, we go back and forth," Newton said. "We love a girl one night; we like her dancing, her attitude, her hair, and how she interacts with the group. Then the next night she can fade into the background. These rehearsals give us the opportunity to see what kind of cheerleader she is going to be. We will work with these ladies for a full year if they make the team, we need to know more than just how they will compete on audition day.

"There are several girls that I feel very confident will make the team," Newton said. "There are several girls I feel very confident they will not make the team, and there are a lot of girls what I call on the fence. And I still don't know until probably the very last day, after I've seen their individual talent, whether or not I want them on the team. It might even come down to the very last cut but I still don't know and I might take them on the team and see how they work out the next couple of weeks."

Newton did convey that the returning veterans are judged differently because of the familiarity and having already seen how they react on the team and how they perform on game days, and both Missy and Irievy acknowledged that they were well aware of that fact.

Trying to juggle a full-time job or a full class load if they're a college student, and preparing for the rehearsals is not an easy task, and that's what Brittany from Loxahatchee is quickly finding out. This is the second tryout for the dental and orthodontic assistant who made it this far last year but was one of the final cuts, and she has gotten a lot of help from the veterans with make-up tips and performance tips.

It's well over an hour's drive for Brittany from her office to the training facility, and with rehearsals starting at 6:30 p.m., it's a bit of a stressful ride. Having gone through the auditions once before, Brittany was familiar to the judges and she said they were happy to see her back.

"I actually started preparing myself forehand because I wasn't prepared last year and I wanted to be prepared this time and not as nervous," Brittany said. "I was asked during the interview about what I did to prepare myself. I'm exhausted by the time I get home after working all day and then doing these dances, but I don't mind working hard. I have a lot of support from my patients and my co-workers and I'm definitely looking forward to Saturday."

Desiree from Naples is experiencing the process for the first time and the college student majoring in mass communications has been soaking it all in. She was comfortable during the one-on-one interview and jumped all over the question about how supportive her family has been throughout.

"My family, we're Spanish, we're Cuban and we're very united so they're very supportive," said Desiree, who is one of two women from Naples hoping to earn a spot on the squad. "They're calling me every single day wishing me good luck, and I'm staying at a hotel the rest of the week so they're checking on me because I guess I'm like the baby that's left alone here. … I know the girls are out on the field and they work hard, but it's a very intense, emotional ride. I mean I cried myself to sleep the other night just because I kind of messed up. It's overwhelming and exciting."

For Irievy, it's not quite so overwhelming because this would also be her third season. She has been happy to help the newcomers and doesn't really view it as a competition, even though she has to perform well enough to make the squad again, and she is impressed with the ones that made it through the open auditions.

Saturday's show will also serve as the final audition, so how everyone interacts with the crowd will be looked at heavily by the judges, and this is truly where the returning veterans have the upper hand.

"As a veteran it's awesome because we love to perform. The bigger the crowd the better for us," Irievy said. "But it is intense. You don't know because veterans are cut every year, so you need to secure your spot. You need to dance well, look your best, keep your figure right, everything. I mean you have to be 100 percent better than the new girls coming in."

Things will get started at 10 a.m. on Saturday with each girl getting a chance to perform one individual routine, and then the show will go off at around 1:30 or 2 p.m., which is when the best candidates will separate themselves from the pack.

"Some girls that we think are so beautiful get on the stage and close up. They become timid," Newton said. "It is a chance for us to see if they can show up, and then there are some girls that look average, and they get on the stage and they light up, and you know on the field they are going to project a mile away and the fans are going to love them. So I'm looking for that showmanship and that charisma on stage. Hopefully I'll find it."

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