Tuesday, August 12, 2008

She's got all the right moves 

Posted by Sasha at 1:32 PM ET

By Michelle Laczkoski/Daily News staff
Milford Daily News
Aug 11, 2008

FRANKLIN: Fans around the state will be cheering for the Celtics this fall as they defend their NBA title. But viewers will also have to shift their focus to the sidelines to catch Franklin's Ashley Eisenhauer perform with the team's dance squad.

The 23-year-old was recently chosen to sport the green and white uniform, although hers will have a bit less material than her favorite player, Kevin Garnett.

Hand-picked by Celtics forward Glen ``Big Baby'' Davis and other judges, including ``American Idol'' finalist and Wrentham native Ayla Brown, Eisenhauer is one of 17 dancers chosen to perform at home games during the 2008-09 season.

Since age 3, Eisenhauer has lived for dance.

``I could be injured tomorrow, you never know,'' she said. ``That pushes me every day to dance and keep doing what I love.''

Now a dance teacher at her mom's studio, Patti Eisenhauer Dance Center on Hayward Street in Franklin, Eisenhauer said she urges her students to take advantage of every opportunity to audition.

``I thought, `Maybe I should follow my own words of advice,''' she said.

More than 200 tried out for the Celtics Dancers, and they were whittled down to 39 finalists. Final auditions were held at The Roxy in Boston on July 24.

Billy Costa, KISS 108 morning show personality, hosted the auditions where finalists were asked to interview in professional attire, model evening wear and pose in swimsuits.

``It was basically a pageant to find a Celtics dancer,'' she joked.

The audition also included group and solo performances. Eisenhauer was pictured on a Boston.com slide show holding a handstand during a solo performance of Leona Lewis' ``Keep Bleeding.''

She put the routine together within minutes in the comfort of the Hayward Street studio, her ``second home.''

Eisenhauer said competing against ``beautiful women with perfect bodies'' was intimidating.

``But I said to myself, `I'll be confident, if I'm what they want, I'm what they want,''' she said. ``But it was nice that I made it.''

Poised and confident, Eisenhauer exemplifies the discipline she learned and credits to her dancing career.

A ``huge ovation'' followed the announcement from the stage at The Roxy that Eisenhauer had made the team, her mom Patti recalled.

Eisenhauer's parents and supporters from the dance studio crowded the room, holding signs and text-messaging to spread the word.

``I knew she had the ability, but you just never know,'' mom Patti said. ``She's worked really hard for this.''

Eisenhauer said hearing the announcement was a ``huge relief.''

``I couldn't even sleep that night,'' she said.

Eisenhauer's role with the team continues a modest family tradition of performing for Boston sports teams and their fans.

Patti cheered for the New England Patriots in the late 1970s.

``It was a lot of fun, I enjoyed it,'' Patti recalled. ``It allowed me to share the love of dance with other people.''

In mulling her options for dance try-outs, Eisenhauer ultimately chose the Celtics over the Patriots.

``It's too cold outside,'' she said. ``Plus there is more dancing involved with the Celtics team. That's what I'm passionate about.''

Celtics dancers commit to practice three times a week and perform at home games.

The Celtics will begin defending their title in a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Oct. 28 in Boston.

The team only attends away games if the Celtics make it to the finals.

Dancers also attend promotions and fundraising events.

Eisenhauer said she will continue to teach jazz, contemporary dance and ballet classes at the studio as often as her schedule allows.

``It'll be a little chaotic,'' she said.

Meeting the celebrity athletes is another perk, Eisenhauer admits. She said she idolizes team forward Garnett, whom she calls the team's most passionate player.

A group of young girls at the dance school last week watched as Eisenhauer gracefully twirled in a mirrored studio.

"I never thought of myself as a role model,'' she said. "But it pushes me to get even better and be someone they aspire to be.''

Labels: ,