by Art Schwartz
February 23, 2014
More than 110 million viewers saw this year’s Super Bowl, making it the most watched television event in U.S. history. That means a lot of people saw 22-year-old North Bergen resident Ashley Marie Gonzalez, whether they know it or not.
“We were chosen to be a part of the Super Bowl halftime show,” said Gonzalez, who used to cheer at North Bergen High School and is now part of a dance team based in New York. “It was a great experience. We met a lot of people, we did a lot of events in New York and New Jersey, meeting players, doing signings.”
Ashley was on the field performing with some of her fellow Gotham City Cheerleaders. “We were on the platform on the left side of the stage, which was right where Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers were performing,” she said. “Bruno Mars requested a group of girls who were dancers and were pretty. He wanted us dressed a certain way. We were there for the whole show. It was an amazing feeling to be there in front of thousands of people.”
The Gotham City Cheerleaders
“We’re based out of New York and we are the first dance team to cheer for the New York Giants,” said Gonzalez about the Gotham City Cheerleaders.
The three-year-old cheerleading team is not officially affiliated with the Giants, she explained. “We’re not signed by them but we do support them, we go to every home game and do tailgates and do promos. It’s a lot of fun.”
“The New York Giants are a traditional football team so they never had cheerleaders,” continued Gonzalez. “They’re one of six teams that didn’t have an official cheerleading team. My director, Ana [DeVillegas], she was a Redskins cheerleader and she lives in New York and it was her and a New Jersey Jets cheerleader, they founded it and built it. Every year it has grown and progressed. We have so many fans. We do a lot of charity events and gigs all over the city.”
“Since we’re not officially signed by the Giants we don’t get to perform on the field,” she said. “I can’t be on that field… but I was on the field for the Super Bowl!”
Cheering in North Bergen
Gonzalez has a strong background in her craft. “I’m 22 and I went to North Bergen High School,” she said. “I cheered all my years of high school and graduated in 2009. I grew up with my dad being my coach. I was a competitive gymnast so a lot of my experience comes from my background.” That experience included dancing during halftime shows for the Jets.
Moving to Florida to attend Miami International University, she auditioned for the Miami Dolphins cheerleaders. “I danced for a semi-pro team in Florida, the West Palm Beach Makos,” she said. “I did a year with them, and then after college I moved back up here to New Jersey.”
“Every spring is when the NBA and NFL teams audition and I auditioned for several teams,” she continued. “And being as how I didn’t make certain teams I was freaking out as a dancer; what am I going to do? I Googled the Giants and found out about the Gotham City Cheerleaders and I auditioned and I made them. That was last May when I auditioned and I signed the contract from June to March.”
A bit of clarification is necessary here. “We are known as cheerleaders but in the professional world we don’t cheer as in lift each other and jump and tumble or stunt,” said Gonzalez. “We don’t shout cheers. As a professional cheerleader you’re more of a dancer. When you audition for a team they look for your dance background. They like a gymnastics background and I have that.”
“We’re actually dancing to music as opposed to cheerleading,” she explained. “We have choreographed routines and we have our pompoms. I get asked that all the time, even when we’re at promos they ask us to cheer and we tell them we don’t cheer but if you play music we’ll dance to it.”
The Super Bowl
When the Super Bowl gig came up, the coach and director of the team, Ana DeVillegas, selected about 20 cheerleaders to participate.
“It wasn’t my whole team that was part of the Super Bowl,” said Gonzalez. “My team itself, there’s about 25 of us, but my coach and my captain went to Japan in December and did an audition for Japanese girls who wanted to come dance in New York City. Whoever made the auditions was chosen to come out for Super Bowl week and they performed with us at our events. Most of those girls were the ones chosen for the Super Bowl, and a few of the girls who were already on the team. I was glad to be one of them. It was an even better feeling being one of the chosen girls.”
Onstage they were part of a much larger group selected to dance to the music. “There were over 900 of us as part of the halftime show so we weren’t dancing like our team performing. It wasn’t choreographed but we have these dances that we do, we call them snippets, just short little dance moves that we do as a team making us look in sync,” she said. “It was hard and there wasn’t much space for us since we were crammed on that stage. There wasn’t room to move the way we wanted to. But it was a lot of fun.”
Next (dance) steps
“Next I am going to prepare for a different audition,” said Gonzalez. “My contract is still going until March 15 so once that comes I’m free to go. I like to be a part of different teams because you learn different styles of dance from different coaches and different directors.”
“Right now is the down time until the next football season,” she said, “and I don’t want to not be dancing so I was just Googling and I found this team based out of Long Island, the Long Island Lizards, professional lacrosse, they have a professional dance team and they are a spring/summer team so I’m hopefully becoming a part of their team.”
“The best thing that could happen is definitely being part of a pro team where I am performing on the field for an entire season. That’s where I’m trying to get,” said Gonzalez. “What I’m trying to do right now is build my dancer resume.”
Lana of the Gotham City Cheerleaders
Gotham City Cheerleaders outside MetLife Stadium on a windy November morning.
A little last minute rehearsal before going outside
All bundled up!
Dancing in the parking lot.
Director Ana showing of her moves.
[Gotham City Cheerleaders Website]
In just their third season, the talent and dedication of the Gotham City Cheerleaders (GCC) has caught the attention of another international sports entertainment company for their second overseas appearance this year. This trip, however, is in search of elite dancers that aspire to perform with the GCC in New York for the GCC’s Super Tailgate Football Party during the week leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII.
Japan’s mega sports entertainment company, World Sports Community, Inc (WSC) launched their vision of a pro cheerleading team, Loicx Girls, as a means to open performance opportunities for aspiring dancers. The Loicx Girls have performed for various sporting events across the country and are now ready to make their New York City debut with the Gotham City Cheerleaders.
Ana De Villegas, Executive Director and Choreographer of the GCC, will teach an intense 2-day workshop that will run from 8:00 a.m – 5:00 p.m. together with GCC captain, BriAnna and 2nd year GCC veteran, Kaitlyn. What started as a workshop for Japanese dancers has now evolved to an audition process that will culminate with hundreds of dancers competing for ten (10) spots to join the GCC in New York City come January, 2014.
“It’s humbling and inspiring to travel abroad and teach dancers who want to join our team. What WSC is doing in Japan is in line with the spirit of the GCC, which is to provide avenues for dancers who work hard to live their dream of performing on numerous platforms,” said De Villegas. “We are excited about our new partnership with Loixc Girls and look forward to selecting the best dancers to join us for our blow out tailgate party. It’s innovative, it’s ambitious; it’s a reflection of the GCC’s foundation.”
Mic Eto, the CEO of WSC, is enthusiastic about the partnership with the GCC as they expand their company for sports fans in Japan. “I’m honored to hold this cheer dance event with the GCC. Japanese top level dancers will participate in this event and they are all looking forward to meeting these NYC dancers that they have been following on social media.”
WSC is the only company in Japan to offer a sports support service for Japanese sports fans since 2008. “WSC’s mission, like the GCC, is sharing joys and memorable sporting events with fans all over the world. We will continue to produce these opportunities of sports entertainment with overseas teams. I’m looking forward to meeting many American sports fans in NY come January,” said Eto.
New York dancers can also audition for the playoff season squad and GCC variety show team. The GCC is hosting a one day audition on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. at Equinox on Wall Street. For more information and to pre-register, dancers and promo models may visit: GothamAuditions.eventbrite.com.
[Gotham City Cheerleaders]
[GCC Winter Auditions Registration]
Written by The Philster
Pro Player Insiders
November 30, 2013
Until 2007, the NFL teams in the Big Apple didn’t have official cheerleaders. The New York Jets rectified things on their end with the Flight Crew but the Giants cheerleaders, in their 3rd year of existence, aren’t official, just yet. To truly understand how the Giants went from having no cheerleaders at all to a squad of Unofficials, you have to understand the drive of the lady who founded the squad.
After moving to the US from her native Bolivia, the woman known as “Wonder Woman” to her partner, Ana De Villegas, spent her childhood training in ballet and jazz dancing and then joined the dance teams in high school and in college. It was in college where she started studying choreography in addition to earning degrees in Communication and Criminal Justice. She put that training to work in choreographing dances for her home studio, the Ballet Academy of Northern Virginia, where she trained when not in school. Once a young lady finishes dancing in college, there are a limited number of avenues left to continue performing. One of those avenues is in professional cheerleading and in 2009, Ana joined up with the First Ladies of Football, the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders. After a season with them, she turned her focus to the Big Apple and got a job with the Broadway Dance Center. However, her role with the BDC was as more than a dancer but as a director as well.
It was in her childhood that she started on her path to becoming an entrepreneur. The Gotham City Cheerleaders isn’t the first group she created as she started groups as early as 4th grade. She even formed a company while in middle school called the “We Can Do That” Club to raise money to bring a friend with her on a trip to Miami for the summer. Her company did various odd jobs around the neighborhood and in addition to raising money, gained a fan base as well. All her success during her childhood creating successful ventures showed her some of what it takes to get something started. Seeing that the Giants had no cheerleading squad, she did the same thing as she did with groups and her childhood company all her life: she created one.
Like in many new projects, the biggest challenge in forming the GCC was listening to the doubters and naysayers. As Ana herself puts it, “There are 2 types of people in the world, those that believe and those that don’t. There is hope that most people are believers. There is the creative kid in all of us that still believes in dreams and in making the impossible possible. It’s really what keeps life fun and innovative.” Ana’s dream was to create a cheerleading squad that fans of the New York Giants could support while creating an outlet for ladies to perform as well as give back to the community. Based on how they’ve been received, she’s achieving her dream.
Ana goes on to say “While we are not sanctioned by the Giants, it’s a hope that we carry with pride, as we continue to be ambassadors for fans who are truly the ones that make this game come alive. Whether it’s a charity event, a special performance or our wonderful tailgate appearances at MetLife, I believe that people are inspired and moved by our team. When I come across people who say “don’t you think you should just give it up and be a director of an established team?” I can’t help but chuckle. This is the most official group of dancers you could meet. Not many people have the guts, the passion and the dedication that these girls do. They have the talent to go to any team, some have even come to us from other pro teams. Yet, they are here, making a difference and have left a mark in history. Not many people can say that. We have performed overseas, appeared in music videos and completed countless hours of community service and fundraising for charitable causes. It’s a beautiful, commendable thing that we do, why would we stop? Clearly, I can’t explain this in an “elevator pitch”, so it remains the biggest challenge to get those who question, to believe. Dressed in their red, white and blue uniforms, this team is to me America’s Dream Team.”
Away from the Gotham City Cheerleaders, Ana keeps herself busy in a variety of areas of dance. Before starting up the GCC, she landed a spot as a NJ Devils Cheerleader and midway through the squad’s first season, she joined up with Going Pro Entertainment, an organization that, among other things, helps aspiring pro cheerleaders make it onto the big stage. Finally, in 2012, after Christie Artinger joined her with the GCC, she took on the extra role as the coach of Pace University’s Dance Team. You can read more about Ana at Going Pro Entertainment.
Lana of the Gotham City Cheerleaders outside MetLife Stadium on Sunday
It’s all for a good cause. Come over to Woodland Park Range for a rare photo opportunity that will last only 2.5 hours. Gun For Hire is one of the official sponsors of the Gotham City Cheerleaders.
Test your shooting abilities or get a training session! Groups are welcome.
Take a photo with our team members in the 50-yard range holding your rifle with the Gun For Hire Targets as backdrops. Each signed photo will accompany the 2014 Gotham Cheerleader calendar.
For $30 you can have a fun night out with friends while helping us raise funds for Breast Cancer research.
Other exciting event features will be Giants fan trivia, raffles and t-shirt giveaways!
[Gotham City Cheerleaders]
[Shoot For A Cure Registration]
Big Blue’s unofficial dance team proved they’re still on top of their game Wednesday night, as the Daily News joined them for a 60-minute cycling class at Revolve Fitness, the squad’s last workout before tackling the Tough Mudder obstacle course race this weekend.
By Rheana Murray
New York Daily News
A sad start to the Giants’ season can’t keep these girls down.
Packing pom-poms and bedazzled sports bras, The Gotham City Cheerleaders — Big Blue’s unofficial pep squad — proved their spirit is still high during a sweaty spin ride Wednesday night at Revolve Fitness in Union Square. It was the team’s final workout before they tackle the grueling Tough Mudder obstacle course race Saturday in Englishtown, N.J.
“We want to show everybody that cheerleaders are tough,” team captain BriAnna, 21, told the Daily News. “It’s more than just shaking pom-poms and being pretty. We’re in great shape and we take pride in that.”
The team, founded by former Washington Redskins Cheerleader Ana De Villegas in 2011, doesn’t perform inside MetLife Stadium, but they’re outside every Sunday home game, amping up the tailgating crowd.
BriAnna, the team captain for the Gotham City Cheerleaders, at Revolve Fitness Wednesday night.
“We dance for three hours straight, so you need to be in top physical condition,” said BriAnna, who’s in her second season with the GCC. “You have to have the stamina to keep up. I remember my very first game ever, after that home game I couldn’t even walk — I was so sore!”
The cheerleaders practice twice a week for three hours — mostly running, cardio, lots of arm work and dancing.
Is part of a cheerleader’s job to look great at all times? GCC’s Kaitlyn is all smiles before an indoor cycling workout.
Christianne Phillips, a master instructor at Revolve, said indoor cycling — which she sets to bumping soundtracks packed with Rihanna and Kanye West hits — is a natural addition.
“Dancers and cheerleaders are inherently motivated by music,” she said. “And we’re music-based, we use it to get you through the drills. So I think our style resonates with them.”
The Gotham City Cheerleaders pose at Revolve Fitness in Union Square on Wednesday night. The squad dances at every Sunday home game.
Classes like Revolve’s high-intensity, 60-minute Rip Ride are also perfect training for grueling mud runs like the Tough Mudder.
“We use resistance, so your body is going to work. And we do drills,” Phillips said. “That kind of interval training is what improves your strength and your cardiovascular endurance.”
It was enough to exhaust an entire cheerleading squad Wednesday night.
Emerging sweaty but with eye makeup still intact, the team kept up the pep through one last photo shoot — proof they’ve got the perseverance to see the Giants through the season.
And one day, they hope to break into MetLife stadium.
“Even though we can’t be on the field, the Giants’ management is well aware we exist and that we are at every single home game supporting them,” BriAnna said. “Hopefully, one day we’ll be on the field.”
It’s a tough season for Giants fans, but there is one reason to cheer: The Gotham City Cheerleaders.
For those of you who aren’t aware, the Giants don’t have official cheerleaders, yet. But you can help start a groundswell of support. Be sure to like the GCC on Facebook.
GCC Director Ana and Team Coordinator Janel
Tailgate Party Performance outside the stadium
Members of the GCC’s Ref Squad
Colleen, Sarah and Kate
Carina and Ashley
Earlier on game day before the Cheerleaders head to MetLife Stadium, you can catch them at Redd’s Restaurant. Here the Cheerleaders engage in a game of “Pom toss.”
[Gotham City Cheerleaders]
[Gotham City Cheerleaders on Facebook]
Yesterday outside MetLife Stadium – Ashley of the Gotham City Cheerleaders
Who said Pro Cheerleaders weren’t tough? The Gotham City Cheerleaders, dubbed as the Unofficial Dancers of the NY Giants, will take on the 12 mile obstacle course in New Jersey next week and are inviting fans and supporters to ride by their side in the city’s most challenging indoor-cycling ride – Revolve’s RIP Ride as they get ready for the Tough Mudder.
As if training for football season all summer wasn’t challenging enough, this group of professional football cheerleaders is taking their training to the next level in an effort to fundraise for the current season; and they are willing to work for it. The team is participating in the Tough Mudder Tri-State 12 mile obstacle course at the Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ on Oct. 12. The Gotham City Cheerleaders (GCC) rounded up a few sponsors to place silent bids for the team to make it across the finish line under the average time in order to collect any of the bids. The current average completion time is 3.5 hours, according to Tough Mudder’s website.
The peak of the GCC’s Tough training now culminates in a 60 minute indoor cycling RIP Ride class at Revolve where Giants fans and athletic enthusiasts alike can join the team as a final motivation before the big day. The class is set for Wednesday, Oct. 9 at 8:30pm at Revolve studios located in Union Square on 52 E. 13th St. between University and Broadway.
“This year we are taking our training up a notch while raising funds for our team and we are sure working for it. It’s exciting to participate through what we expect to be the hardest physical challenge we have yet to overcome as a team,” said BriAnna, the GCC’s 2nd year team captain.
Training for the Tough Mudder began in July. CheerFIT, the official trainer of the GCC, has incorporated several intense cardio and interval training sessions into the team’s regular season training. CheerFIT’s founder, Danielle Wechsler, will also run with the team.
“Since July, we have had weekly cheerFIT bootcamps to get the team Tough Mudder ready and prove that yes, cheerleaders are tough! Training incorporates total body exercises to not only build endurance and strengthen the core, arms and legs, but also works to sculpt and define. The team has seen amazing results and crossing the cheerFIT training with Revolve’s RIPRide will be a perfect final prep before the big event,” assures Wechsler.
Rhythm In Motion, LLC a deejay and entertainment company based out of Brooklyn, is one of 5 companies sponsoring the team in a silent bid. To ensure the timely completion, the CEO of Rhythm In Motion will also join in on the race along with other marathon runners.
Any riders interested in joining the GCC on the RIP Ride can visit the Revolve site at www.revolvefitness.com starting Monday, Oct. 7 at 8:30 a.m. Riders will receive complimentary spin shoes for the class, autographed team cards and the chance to win various prizes from both the GCC and Revolve.
[Gotham City Cheerleaders]
(Thanks to everyone who wrote in with suggestions)
Redskins Cheerleaders Swimsuit Calendar Cover Model Heather is a former Baltimore Ravens Cheerleader
Colleen of the Gotham City Cheerleaders is a former member of the New York Jets Flight Crew
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