10 Tips For Making Your Dream Dance Team
If you love dancing as much as I do, then taking your dance career to the next level is a no-brainer. For me this meant NFL cheerleader.
Since April 2012 I have tried out twice for the Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders, spent two years on their Training Program, and once for the San Diego Charger Girls. Each experience has given me lots of knowledge to share about preparing for NFL cheerleader tryouts. Since trying out for two different teams, I have learned that each team is different, and ultimately you’ll want to default to that team’s style for tryouts. With that said, I have 10 tips to help you prepare for tryouts NFL cheerleader tryouts.
Going into your dream team’s tryouts can be scary! My first year auditioning, I had no idea what to expect, or what I was doing. I showed up in the wrong outfit, looked confused, didn’t know anyone, and wanted to run away. Since my first year auditioning, I have learned so much about how to prepare for auditions!
These tips are completely based on what I have learned from trying out for two NFL cheerleading teams. You can choose to work on all items, or only a few. It’s completely up to you!
6 months to a year before tryouts:
1) Practice Dancing
Working on your dancing is one of the best ways to prepare for tryouts, especially if it’s been awhile since you last danced. Take a variety of dance classes including technique and hip-hop. Some teams will include a technique round in open auditions, so make sure to work on turns, kicks, split leaps, and any other technical aspect of dancing you may need to show.
Also watch videos of the team you are trying out for, and learn a few of their dances. This is great for a number of reasons:
- You will learn your team’s style of dancing. Even if you’re the most technical dancer in the room, you may get overlooked if you don’t know your team’s style of dancing.
- Leaning dances, whether it’s in a class setting or watching videos online, will help you pick up choreography faster. Open auditions move quickly. If you’re slow at picking up choreography like me, you may not make it to the next round. I promise that you’ll only get faster at picking up choreography if you work on it!
If you know someone who is/has been an NFL Cheerleader ask to take them out to dinner in exchange for lessons. There’s nothing better than getting one-on-one advice from someone with experience!
Lastly, if the team you’re trying out for offers prep classes take advantage! This is another great way to learn the dance style of your team. You’ll also have access to past and current members of the team. Ask them questions about arm placement, power behind your movements, and any other questions you may have about your dancing. Also ask for feedback. Show them a few eight counts and see what they have to say.
Flexibility in the dance world is important! You may find yourself showing off a kickline, your splits, or a kick during auditions, so you make sure that you’re comfortable with your flexibility before tryouts. If you’re already comfortable with your flexibility then great! Keep up the good work. If flexibility doesn’t come easily to you don’t worry! Give yourself time to work on your flexibility, stretch daily, and work on your splits. I promise that flexibility will come as long as you are diligent.
3) Workout & Eat Well
Working out and eating well before tryouts is important for a few reasons. First, most teams require that you tryout in a two piece costume. You want to look and feel your best in that costume. Confidence is key during tryouts, and if you don’t feel confident in your costume it may negatively effect how you dance.
Second and most importantly, dancing for hours takes stamina and power. Working on cardio will build up your endurance and conditioning which will help you push through an intense day of dancing. Also, work on lifting weights and strength conditioning. Building muscle will help keep your dance moves big and powerful during auditions.
Eating well goes hand in hand with exercising and conditioning. I know that when I eat junk and then try to run, dance, or do any form of exercise, I feel weighed down and gross. Eating well, by focusing on whole foods – veggies, lean meats, complex carbs, etc. – will only help to improve your endurance and power!
1-2 months before tryouts:
4) Find Your Costume
Start thinking about your costume. Depending on the route you take you’ll need anywhere from a few days before tryouts to two months before tryouts to get your costume ready. Even if you end up being the few days before tryouts kind of gal, I still suggest thinking about your costume in advance so that you don’t end up running into a time crunch.
Check out the team you’re trying out for. Read through their audition attire requirements, and take a look at last year’s audition pics to see what girls wore. If the team suggests that you tryout in team colors, then start looking for a costume that incorporates team colors. If the team doesn’t have a color preference, then think about which colors looks best on you.
There are a few ways you can go with your costume:
- Basic dance shorts and sports bra. Pick out a sports bra and shorts that flatter your body. If you’re feeling fancy, add rhinestones to your costume for extra bling.
- Go big and order a custom costume. This is where you’ll want around two months to figure out your costume – it could take a few weeks to receive your costume and then you may need alterations. Plus rhinestoning takes time. For custom costumes I absolutely love The Line Up!
- Borrow a costume from someone who has tried out before. Many of the girls I know have multiple costumes. They are very friendly, and usually willing to share.
Once you have your costume figured out you will need to think about tights, undergarments, and shoes. Find a bra that fits nicely under your top for extra support. For tights, choose a color that will go nicely with your skin tone. I like to Tamara tights. They are sturdy, comfortable, most importantly, cheap! For shoes, tan jazz shoes work well.
Tip: Dance in your costume before tryouts to work out any kinks. There’s nothing worse than realizing that your top doesn’t fit properly, or your tights can’t handle hours of dancing on the day of open auditions. Also, on the day of auditions pin everything – bra straps, tights, you name it. After all of this prep the last thing you want to do is distract the judges with tights sticking out the back of your shorts or a rouge bra strap falling out of your top! Lastly, find some large, sparkly studs to finish off your look.
1-2 weeks before tryouts
5) Hair & Makeup
A few weeks before tryouts start thinking about how you want your hair and makeup to look on the day of open auditions. Think about what styles work best with your hair. For me, I like to do a blowout. It gives my hair a nice polished look, and moves nicely when dancing. Backcombing your hair will give you a good amount of volume and will help keep your hair in place. Just make sure to practice so that you aren’t struggling with backcombing the morning of open auditions!
For makeup, you’ll want to choose a look that’s a bit more dramatic than everyday makeup, and makes your facial features visible to the judges since they’re usually sitting far away. Try using fake eye lashes, and testing out which shade of lipstick looks best on you.
If you have questions about hair and makeup go to prep classes and ask! Also pull up how-to videos if you need ideas and help. Generally speaking, sticking to a “girl next door” look, and making sure to blend, blend, blend your makeup will help you go far!
Figuring out and practicing your hair and makeup in advance will save you lots of stress the morning of open auditions!
6) Spray Tan
Spray tans aren’t necessary, but can give you a boost of confidence the day of open auditions. If you decide to spray tan you’ll probably want to get your spray tan the night before auditions, and wash it off in the morning. However, it’s important to figure out what kind of spray tan works for you. You may find that you need two spray tans to get a deeper color. Test out tanning a few weeks in advance so you don’t end up disappointed or orange on the day of auditions.
Here are some options:
- Self tanner – If you’re not into the idea of spray tanning, try out self tanner. I really like L’Oreal Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Towelettes. Just make sure to start using the towelettes a few days prior to auditions so that you have time for multiple applications.
- Automated airbrush tanning – This is great for anyone who wants a darker tan, but is looking for more privacy, a quick tanning experience, and to save some money.
- Personalized airbrush tanning – This is my favorite option! I always walk away with a great tan, and the color I want. Personalized airbrush tanning is usually a bit more expensive depending on where you go. You also must be comfortable wearing anything from a bathing suit to nothing in front of your tanning specialist. I’ve always worked with incredibly professional salons, and have never had issues. In the case of either airbrush tan, I suggest that you research different salons and read reviews before choosing a salon.
7) Whiten Teeth
Going into auditions with a pearly white smile can give you an extra boost of confidence, and give that finishing touch to your look. I’m a huge coffee drinker and sometimes notice a yellowish tinge to my teeth. Using white strips helps take away that yellow look, and leaves my smile looking awesome!
The Day Before Tryouts
8) Pack & Prepare
Make sure you have everything you need for a long day of auditions, and start packing.
- Make sure your application is complete, picture is printed, and audition fee is ready. Check with the team you are tryout for to see if they require any other paperwork for auditions.
- Buy plenty of water. Choose snacks that are easy to eat and will keep you going such as nuts, veggies, protein bars, fruit, and sandwiches.
- Pack extra tights, safety pins, tampons, and wipes.
- Bring a mirror, makeup, hair supplies, and dance shoes.
- I like to bring a notebook and pen to write the dances down – I have a terrible memory when it comes to remembering new choreography.
- Set aside an outfit that is easy to put on and take off, and won’t ruin your hair and makeup. It should also be comfortable, and something that will keep you warm in between audition rounds.
- Make a packing checklist so you don’t forget anything. Believe it or not, you can forget your shoes or application and picture at home.
Being prepared and packing the night before can make an incredibly stressful day less stressful. You will thank yourself in the morning for being prepared.
The Day of Tryouts
9) Be positive
Nothing will kill your chances of making your dream dance team more than being negative. If your hair isn’t working the way you want it to, you leave 15 minutes late, or forget something important at home, put the incident behind you and focus on what is most important: performing your best in front of the judges.
Focus on everything you’re doing right. If there’s a part of the dance you know well followed by a section you don’t know at all, make the part you know your best with big strong movements, and dance through the parts you don’t know with confidence.
Stay positive while talking to others. There’s nothing worse than being on the receiving end of a girl who is unloading her nerves on you. It’s distracting and can bring down someone else’s performance, so be mindful of what you’re saying to others. If you’re on the receiving end of someone who can’t stop talking about how they don’t know the dance or how they’re going to mess up, nicely tell them that you’re concentrating on doing well during auditions, and that you need to focus.
Be kind to yourself, and do your best!
10) Have Fun & Make Friends
Whether you make the team or not, tryouts are meant to be fun! Meet some new people, and have fun dancing. At the end of the day you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain by going to open auditions. When I auditioned for Charger Girls, I didn’t make the team, but met a group of girls recruiting for their dance team. I’m now dancing for a semi-pro football team which is not only tons of fun, but great preparation for Charger Girl tryouts next year!
There’s no guarantee that you’ll make an NFL Cheerleading team because you prepare, and there’s nothing that says you won’t make the team because you don’t prepare. Preparing can simply make you feel more confident and ready on the day of open auditions. If you get cut, but put forth full effort, I promise that you won’t leave feeling defeated. Come back next year an try out again! I know girls who tried out 2-4 times before making a team. If 300 girls tryout, and the judges are taking a team of 28, don’t hold it against yourself if you don’t make the cut. Be proud of yourself for getting outside of your comfort zone and working towards your goal!
Until next time,
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