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Dancers light up field as Sparks

Point Park Globe
February 21, 2012

Three Point Park University dance majors have earned a spot on the official dance team of Pittsburgh’s new arena football team, the Pittsburgh Power. As members of “The Sparks,” the girls will show off their moves at Pittsburgh Power home games, as well as at various promotional events in the area.

“It was a new thing coming out in Pittsburgh, and I wanted to be part of something new,” sophomore dance major Sam Elliot, a veteran Spark and co-captain going into her second season with the team, said about getting involved. “It involved dance, of course, which is my passion. After doing it, I learned it was so much fun. The fans are crazy.”

Sophomore dance major and veteran Spark Meghan Manning agreed. Last year, she learned about the team tryouts from her high school science teacher.

“The [minimum] age is 18, and I had just turned 18, so I felt like I had to try out,” she said.”After I auditioned, there was a second day of auditions, and I told my friends about it. When we made it, we decided to give it a try, and it was really fun.”

Rudy Hazen, a freshman dance major and Sparks rookie, was inspired to try out after attending a Pittsburgh Power game during her senior year of high school.

“I went to a game and it was so fun,” she said. “It’s a way to get a performance opportunity.”

Meghan, Rudy, and Sam

The girls earned their spot on the team through multiple auditions. “There was a preliminary where we had to learn a hip hop combination and a jazz combination, then we had a regular audition where they made cuts,” Hazen said. “If you got through the preliminaries, then you had to do the finals.”

The final round was held at Mullen’s Bar in the North Side, and the girls performed in front of a panel of judges.

According to Manning, the auditions were “less scary than last year, because I have done it before. They were a lot of fun. I thought there was more talent this year, since more people knew about it.”

The team entertains the fans during Power games by dancing on both the sidelines and midfield. Their sideline routines, called “numbers and letters,” are performed with poms during each quarter of the game. Then, in between the quarters, the girls run out to midfield and perform a full dance routine, called a “quarter break.”

According to Elliot, the Power fans are what make the experience fun.

“It’s a lot different than regular football because it’s indoors and the fans are closer to you and they can interact more,” she said.

With a fairly large span of ages and backgrounds, the team members make time to get to know each other and bond.

“We just became a new team, so half of us are veterans and half of us are rookies,”Elliot said. “But we are definitely trying to make the team dynamic a lot closer than it was last year, because a lot of us didn’t know each other last year, with the different schools.”

The team has dinners together and, recently, took a bowling trip together.

“Since practice has started, we’re bonding more,” Hazen said.

As with any team, the Sparks have certain rules and standards guiding behavior.

“We have to be presentable at all times, even when we’re not in costume,” Hazen said.

The girls also are told to watch what they post online and to be friendly to everyone, even outside of the Power games. Elliot explained that the rules are in place “because people do recognize us and watch us and see us, and we don’t need a bad reputation.”

The Point Park girls light up the field at the first Pittsburgh Power home game of the season on March 23 at 8 p.m.

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