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Dancers Audition for the Chance to Support Rockland Boulders

The Rockland Roll has tryouts for dance team to perform at Provident Bank Park in Pomona.
By Rebecca Giglio
New City Patch
July 2, 2011

[Photos and Video]

Tryouts for the Rockland Boulders’ dance team, the Rockland Roll, were held on Friday at the St. Lawrence Center bubble in Hillburn, where 10 female dancers registered for spots on the team.

The girls checked in at the bleachers in front of the turf field, where the auditions were scheduled to take place at 11 a.m. Each was given a white sticker with a number on it.

While waiting, the girls stretched and calmed their nerves, reminding themselves what an exciting experience this would be, regardless of the end result. Meghan Plattie, 23, expected the tryouts to be “fun more than anything,” epitomizing the positive attitude many of the dancers held. “And a good workout,” she laughed.

Meghan is from Congers and has quite a background in dance. She has been a student at the Coupe studio in Nanuet, she has attended numerous dance summer programs, and she is currently teaching at Premier Dance Center in Tappan.

All the auditioners have some background in dance and/or cheerleading, so for many this was not a new experience. The Rockland Boulders need dancers who can double as cheerleaders, to both entertain and energize the crowd at Provident Bank Park in Pomona, where the new Can-Am League baseball team plays its home games.

The girls wonder how cheerleading for the Boulders will compare to cheerleading for football and basketball teams. “I’ve never done anything for a baseball team before, just football,” says Olivia Cassiere from Congers. Arwen Dewar, 22, from Suffern, predicted that the routine would most likely be less challenging than those at auditions in New York City.

Toriska Vandross is 18, one of the youngest auditioners. She graduated from Spring Valley High School and now attends Rockland Community College. Toriska has some unique experiences to bring to the Rockland Roll. In addition to being a dancer, Toriska has performed for her school’s step team and also as a mascot at a camp where mascots battle each other. The winning mascot is the one with the most spirit. She was the captain and choreographer for her step team, which competed with the step teams of the other grades in her school. This year, her team brought home the trophy. “I think it definitely helps. Being a mascot you have to be a people person. People will come up to you and say, ‘You did a good job. You entertained us’. Step allows me to get better control of my body.”

After registration, the dancers sat on the turf as Dana Fjermestad, Director of First Impressions, briefed them on the day’s schedule. The girls would first learn a routine from Megan Clancy, the dance manager of the Rockland Roll. They would then perform the routine in front of the staff in groups of two. The audition would be followed by an interview, “to make sure this is the right fit for you,” she told the girls. “This is a family friendly environment,” Dana stressed, explaining that the style of dance would be different than what you would see at a club. She went on to say that the members of the team could receive college credit for their participation, so their hard work would certainly pay off. “At the end of this, if you do a phenomenal job, I’d be more than happy to write letters of recommendation,” she added.

The dancers were then introduced to Megan and another instructor, Renee. Both were friendly, personable, and, in spite of their talent and experience, unintimidating. It was obvious that though the girls were auditioning, this was meant to be a comfortable environment. “I’m not good at talking!” Megan laughed. “Let’s dance. Let’s do what we’re good at.”

The routine is primarily street jazz, a less structured, improvisational, and interactive form of dance, and lasts about a minute. It is to the song “Where Them Girls At” by David Guetta, featuring Flo Rida and Nicki Minaj. The dancers followed Megan as she lead them in spins and body rolls. She was always happy to offer tips. “When you come out of it [a spin], don’t sit into it because you’re going straight into the next move,” she instructed. She kept the girls in rhythm by saying the eight counts out loud, and by giving directions, like “up, down, pump, pump”, in addition to the demonstration. The dancers were able to practice the steps with and without music and were allowed water breaks. “It’s really hot,” Maris Nunes, age 19 from West Nyack, said, “but the moves are pretty good. I can pick them up easily and I like the song.”

Megan and Renee moved from the turf to the bleachers to begin the evaluation. The girls first did the dance as a group of 10, then, in groups of two. “We’re not going to call you numerically, because if your number 1, you’ll be nervous,” the staff explained, and so the numbers were announced randomly. This was each girl’s opportunity to impress the staff. Many made sure to show enthusiasm and pep even before beginning the routine, in the first 4 counts of 8. This was the time to freestyle, to display a vibrant, energetic personality.

The staff will certainly have a hard time choosing between so many talented dancers. Even though the tryouts were competitive, the atmosphere never was. The girls were not merely cooperative but collaborative, willing to help each other and often laughing together. The characteristics they displayed today are sure to be the foundation of a great team.

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