Saturday, November 15, 2008
by Chris Ardis
The Valley Town-Crier
[Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders]
The Valley Town-Crier
When Sydney Durso went to a modern and hip-hop dance competition in Dallas in the spring of 2008, little did she know it would lead to becoming a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader (DCC).
Durso graduated from Sharyland High School in 2007 and is the daughter of Mark and Lolly (Edwards) Durso. She completed high school in three years and still managed to graduate in the top five percent of her graduating class.
For years, Durso trained at Deborah Case Dance Academy in McAllen.
“I admire and respect my dance instructor, Deborah Case,” Durso said, “because she gave me the desire and the drive to want to continue my passion for dance and to have my own dance academy in the future.”
The training Durso received there provided the foundation for the next step in dance. “Ballet is the most disciplined of all other forms of dance because there are so many rules and French terms for every move,” she said. “Once you have a solid foundation in ballet, it makes switching over to other forms of dance a lot easier.”
After graduation, Durso planned to attend the University of Texas at Austin where she would pursue a bachelor’s degree in theatre and dance with a minor in business. But then the hip hop bug bit her. She decided to attend the University of Texas-Pan American for one year to complete her basics while she trained at DanzForce Academy in Mission.
“I want to thank them because they encouraged me to branch out into other forms of dance, such as modern and hip hop,” Durso said. “This really prepared me for the DCC style.”
At the modern and hip hop competition in Dallas in the spring, Durso had just completed her solo performance when she was approached by a woman from the DCC organization.
“I was handed a bye to the semi-finals for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders,” she said. “I was shocked. I had never been on a high school or college dance or cheerleading team. I had always trained in a studio to perfect my technique.” Durso realized this was the perfect opportunity to pursue her passion for dance. “That was where my journey began,” she said.
At the first audition, held in May 2008, over 1,000 women auditioned for a coveted spot on what most consider the NFL’s most famous cheerleading squad. Because Durso had been given a bye, she did not attend the first audition.
The next day, she showed up for the semi-finals. “It was unbelievable when I arrived at Texas Stadium hours before the audition and saw the huge gathering of beautiful girls waiting to achieve the same goal I had,” Durso said. The final audition was two weeks later and lasted for two days. Durso had a personal interview with a panel of judges and the next day performed her solo routine along with a choreographed DCC piece. “This was even more exciting because, during finals, we actually auditioned with the returning veterans,” she said. “Instead of it being a nerve-wracking experience, having the veterans there dancing with us actually motivated me and made me want to make the team even more.”
The group of 1,000 was narrowed down to 45 girls, 25 of them rookies and were now training camp candidates. When Durso learned she had a spot at training camp, she was ecstatic and could hardly wait for all of the exciting things to come. Training camp, which lasted from June 2 until August 1, was both grueling and exciting, allowing Durso to develop mentally, physically and spiritually.
“I became a more mature and responsible individual,” she said. “I also learned how to handle pressure. I have always been strong in my faith, but going through such a challenging process has taught me to rely on God even more.”
From the beginning of this process, Durso realized the challenge she faced.
“All of the girls were beautiful, talented and hardworking,” she said. By the time she reached the DCC training camp, Durso realized the intensity of the competition had just begun. “Every practice, we were watched, compared and evaluated to see if we would be field ready,” she said. By this point, according to Durso, each DCC candidate was competing more against themselves than against the other candidates. “You are always thinking in your head, ‘Can my kicks be higher?’ ‘Can my smile be bigger?’ ‘Can I dance even stronger?’” she said. Every day of training camp was a challenge, but it was also invigorating and thrilling.
It is on the final night of training camp when candidates learn if they will be donning the famous uniform of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. When Durso was handed the original photo taken of her during the semi-finals, she stared at it. She couldn’t believe it had been three months since the process began. Then one of the ladies from the DCC organization announced that the photo was her ticket to the 2008 season. “It was the most exciting experience I have ever been through in my life,” Durso said.
Durso knows the whirlwind has just begun. The upcoming year will be filled with late night rehearsals, exciting football games at Texas Stadium, appearances at an extraordinary number of events and so much more. “I know every day is going to be a memorable moment because I am living one of my biggest dreams.” She also knows that each day will present new challenges, but she is ready to take them on. “I think the most difficult thing this year is going to be the rehearsals,” Durso explained. “Our brains are going to be fried and our muscles are going to be sore. We are going to be challenged as dancers, individuals and teammates, both mentally as we learn the choreography and various formations on the field, and physically as we perform the routines over and over again until we reach perfection.”
The Cowboys’ season has begun, and the petite blonde from Sharyland High School is savoring every moment as she dances on the sidelines in front of sold-out crowds in her signature DCC star spangled uniform with white cowboy boots. The sense of wonder may never wane.
Durso sees her position on the DCC squad as a privilege for many reasons.
“I will get the opportunity to reach out and touch the hearts of those who are less fortunate as well as to volunteer around my community in a variety of other ways,” Durso said. “I am really looking forward to this because I think when you volunteer, you actually receive much more than you could possibly give. It is a gift to be able to share your time with others, to make a difference in somebody’s life and to help make this world a better place to live.
[Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders]