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Twirlers: Defying the Band Geek Stereotype

October 8, 2009

Most people go to football games for the game. I go for the sideline entertainment.

As a retired dance team member, I can’t help myself. Although I like football, my eye goes directly to the sideline. While everyone else stretches, gets drinks, and talks about the game during time-outs, I critique the cheerleaders and dance team. And I’m a pretty tough critic.

 Being from an SEC school, football is king and the sideline entertainment is queen–and she has strict codes of conduct to follow. She should perfectly complement her king, not distract from him. She should get the people who have congregated excited about being in his presence. And she should (I hate to say it, but it’s true) look attractive at all times.

Moving to Syracuse means that I’ve left  the majesty of SEC football behind–and that includes the spirit squad codes of conduct. Apparently the Big East doesn’t take as much stock in it.

The cheerleaders here don’t pay attention to the game, opting to talk amongst themselves instead. They aren’t (again, this is so mean, but true) very attractive and honestly, their “cheer skills” aren’t that great. Sure, they can all do back-hand-springs, and a couple of them can do back tucks and fulls, but as a whole, the tumbling isn’t great. Their stunting wasn’t impressive–the team couldn’t even get a contagion of one handed cupies together.

As for the dance team–their performance was actually good. They stayed together, had floor and level work, and executed double and triple pirouettes without anyone falling out of the turn or messing up the spotting. However, that was about the only good thing. Like the cheerleaders, they talked amongst themselves, their make-up was minimal (when you’re performing, the make-up needs to highlight the eyes, cheeks, and lips so that your face doesn’t disappear in the lights), the sideline dance choreography was unimpressive, and they would inexplicably form a kick-line and count their kicks out loud.

As I stood dumbfounded at what I was witnessing, I suddenly noticed some one. A tall, slender, blonde  majorette, standing dutifully in front of the band. To be honest, I’d never really focused on the majorettes. I knew they twirled batons along with the band and that they wore glittery costumes, but other than that, I was clueless. But this girl made me pay attention.

When the band would play, she would turn to the crowd and perform her choreography. But more than that, this girl engaged the crowd. She smiled, made eye contact, and even when you could tell she felt silly, performed with exuberance. Her baton twirling skills were impressive–she would throw the baton up in the air, execute en-terre illusion spins and grands jetés that were a match for any of the dancers’ abilities, and then catch the baton effortlessly. She also had tricks where she would weave the spinning baton through her elbows and knees or balance the baton on her nose–while I can perform fouettés and barrel rolls, I cannot do any of that.
While watching her perform I realized that she was far more entertaining any of the cheerleaders and dance team members. So, here’s to this attractive band geek, who can not only twirl a baton, but can perform balletic feats while doing it!

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