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With 2013 try-outs Sunday, Cara, Deanna, Lauren, and Charlene described their 2012 Boston Cannons Dance Team

Cara (right)

This upcoming Sunday, March 3rd, the Boston Cannons Dance Team will hold their auditions in Cambridge for the 2013 upcoming Major League Lacrosse season, which stretches from May through August. Ashley Wagner is Dance Team Coach/Choreographer of the Cannons Dance Team, and always assembles a squad that loves performing on the field and has interesting lives off the field filled with diverse interests and careers. If you want a glimpse of what it is like to be on the Boston Cannons sidelines at Harvard Stadium, last season, four of the members filled in UltimateCheerleaders about their feelings about being on the squad.

Last summer, I met third-year member Cara, second-year members Lauren and Deanna, and rookie Charlene. Cara explained that when she first tried out, “I was just about to graduate college, my friend asked me if I wanted to audition, so it was kind of spur of the moment, and I made it! I have been dancing for twenty years, and I want to keep active. It’s awesome to dance in front of a great big crowd.”

And personal connections are a big part of the Cannons Dance Team. Rookie Charlene said, “I actually danced with Cara in college at Salem State and she told me how fun it was, so I wanted to try out for the team.” Charlene also enjoyed performing on the big stage of Harvard Stadium. “I love performing in front of a big crowd; I love being the center of attention,” laughed Charlene. “My first game here was kind of weird because it was such a Coliseum, and I am so used to dancing on this little square stage. So it was a little weird dancing here at first because you kind of get lost on the field. ‘Oh my gosh! Where am I?!’”

Lauren

Lauren learned about the BCDT similarly to Cara, and said, “Actually, my friend from college was on the team before I was, and we were on dance team in college together, and then she told me about it.” Lauren continued, “This is awesome especially because I just graduated from school, and it is something you can keep doing for dance. Because after school, you can teach but there is really no performance opportunities, and this is performance.”

Deanna was prompted to initially try-out due to an important unique connection between her college dance team and her pro dance team. “I go to Bentley University Business School, and I am on the dance team there,” Deanna explained, “and Ashley, who is the coach of this team, is the coach of Bentley University’s team. So she mentioned it to us that we might be interested in trying out.”

Was there an advantage for try-outs and the team because Ashley used the same choreography that Deanna learned at Bentley? “Not really,” Deanna replied. “She tries to not use the same choreography, because once you know a dance to a song, you are kind of stuck to that song.”

Deanna

Asked what she liked about being part of the Cannons Dance Team, Deanna replied, “Definitely the performing. There are not a lot of opportunities as a dancer that you can perform for 13,000 people, eight times a summer. Definitely that thrill is why I came back.”

Part of that thrill is the atmosphere itself of dancing at Harvard Stadium. “Dancing in it is amazing,” Deanna said. “When you get out on the field before the music starts, and you just look up, and it is all these people screaming, and I am in the middle of the field.” Though this can generate some initial nerves, Deanna continued, “But it’s the adrenaline, it’s thrilling. You come back for it.”

Plus, Deanna loved the friendships among the team, and said, “We get along really well. The whole team is really good friends.”

Many of the members of the BCDT I spoke with have been dancing since they were little dancing kids. And those first performances are still vividly memorable, despite the passage of time. Deanna remembered, “I was five, and were called Country Cuties. We had red and white little cowgirl outfits, cowboy boots, and sequins everywhere. I remember the song; I can still sing it to this day. I think I was most nervous for my mom to leave backstage. I said, ‘When are you are you going to leave?! When are you are you going to leave?! Don’t leave me! Don’t leave me!’”

Lauren added, “I remember the make-up. You were allowed to wear make-up, which is what made it cool for me.”

Charlene’s mom owns a dance studio, so Charlene dance started at three and includes competing all over the US, and now teaches dance. But Charlene still envies the junior dancers from their Cannons Dance Camp that get to dance with the BCDT. “They get to be on the field with us,” Charlene said. “I think that is so cool. Someone that’s five or six dancing on a HUGE field with the pro dance team!”

Charlene

Now as adult dancers, Cara and Lauren were the taller dancers amongst a squad of self-described ‘peanuts.’ Has Cara always been the tall dancer or was that relatively recent? “Even in my studio years, I always knew my spot,” Cara answered. “It was middle, back.” Is it more difficult to be tall-ish on the team now? “It is kind of hard when you all have to get low, all at the same level,” Cara responded. “We have get LOW to be their height. The good part is being in the middle of the kick line.”

Dance breathes a special part of life into pro dancers like the Cannons Dance Team. “It’s an escape for me, Charlene explained. “Like if I am having a bad day, and I go dance, I am all better. It takes your mind off of everything; you can do what you want!”

Cara agreed, “That is how I always felt about it. If you are having a bad day, I am going to go dance, and just let it all out; it just releases. Especially when you do a certain piece like a contemporary, you can put your emotions into it. I felt like it is really powerful.”

Cara

Music is obviously an important part of their lives. When asked what Lauren had on her iPod, she replied, “I have two different iPods. I teach dance, so I have my dance iPod, which is more little kids’ songs. When I download music, I go to the Top 40 on iTunes and I just download from there.”

Deanna added, “I have a lot of top 40 too, but I have a lot of country: Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton.” Country fans, in the big city of Boston? Deanna said at country concerts, the artists say from stage, “’We are always surprised to have a couple cowboys out here in Boston.’ We’re here!”

Generally, the Cannons Dance Team said they get a smidgen more nervous with friends and family in the stands. For example, Charlene said, “When my mom’s here, because she’s a dance teacher, I think, ‘Oh great, she is going to critique me all night.’” But her mom was really happy when Charlene was part of the BCDT. “She was really, really excited,” Charlene said, “So I figured this is really a good start, to have on your resume, to dance for the Boston Cannons, because they are getting so big now, it’s crazy. Like, you say to someone on the street that I dance for the Boston Cannons, and they say, ‘Oh my gosh, the lacrosse team!’ Lacrosse has become so big recently.” Plus, as part of it, Charlene commented, “I’m not used to people coming up to me when I am walking onto the field asking me for my autograph.”

Lauren

Cara has not played on sports teams much, as dance as always been her preoccupation. Cara laughed, “The only time I played a sport was when I was in kindergarten, and I played soccer, and I was doing somersaults and cartwheels on the field. I knew to just give up.”

But Cara’s interest in lacrosse has been piqued. “My cousins are all into lacrosse, because it’s become huge now,” Cara said. “So they always have sticks on the beach, so I thought, I am going to try to play with a stick. It’s hard to actually throw, it’s like a catapult.”

In addition to Cara’s family, Lauren’s brother plays lacrosse as does both of Deanna’s brothers, her boyfriend, and Deanna’s dad coaches lacrosse. And both have noticed attendance growth at Cannons games. But the fast paced game means that the foot-away from the sidelines Cannons Dance Team has to keep an on eye on the ball at all times. Lauren said, “You always have to be on your toes, but the ball bounces back, so you have to watch your back too.” Cara agreed, “You have to always watch. You can’t be dozing off because the ball is so fast.”

Deanna

Like the BCDT as a whole, these four women have diverse majors and goals. Lauren studied Dance Education and Communication as an undergrad, and as time went on, realized teaching was her calling. Lauren is in a Master’s program in Special Education. Deanna is majoring in Marketing and minoring in Sports Management, with a goal of working for a Boston sports team. Cara is a graphic designer, and has always been artistic, including loving fashion and watercolor. Charlene has studied nursing and psychology and wants to be a pediatric nurse. “I love little children,” Charlene said. “I teach dance to little children all the time, and I have just have a connection with them.”

Their hometown of Boston provides lots of opportunities for a wide range of activities. Even the seasons enhances the diverse options, as Deanna explained, “We get extreme summer and we get extreme winter, so you can be a fan of the beach and also a fan of skiing, and do it from the same area.”

And the Cannons are part of their civic pride. “I do love the Cannons,” Cara said. “It is really fun. It’s getting much bigger than it was before, which is awesome.”

And this weekend, as Cara explained, auditions keep the veterans motivated, “You have to try out each year for the Cannons, so it keeps you on your game, when new girls come in.”

This weekend veterans and rookies will be trying to make a squad that is gaining more and more visibility in Boston. Good luck to all! Click here for more audition information.

Charlene

And more photos from last season of Cara, Deanna, Lauren, and Charlene are at this link. And let’s reach into the photo vaults and here are more Boston Cannons Dance Team 2012 photos at this link.

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