$templateURI = get_template_directory_uri(); $homeURL = get_home_url(); if ( isset($bfa_ata_preview) OR $bfa_ata['css_external'] == "Inline" OR ( isset($bfa_ata_debug) AND $bfa_ata['allow_debug'] == "Yes" ) ) { echo '

Pro cheer siren’s call to be a Spurs Silver Dancer draws Anncell to a whole new world in San Antonio

Spurs Silver Dancer Anncell is in her rookie season in San Antonio

There is the short version of Spurs Silver Dancer Anncell’s move from Los Angeles to San Antonio. Last year in LA, Anncell decided at the beginning of the week to try out in San Antonio for the Silver Dancers, and by Friday, Anncell was jetting to San Antonio, and by Tuesday she was a Silver Dancer. But the reality of Anncell’s back story is that this weeklong whirlwind only happened because of Anncell’s lifelong commitment, drive, and devotion to pro cheer, with hard work and determination to always improve every aspect of her skills. Her positive spirit opens up horizons that most others would not glimpse, much less pursue. Anncell shared with UltimateCheerleaders her path from aspiring pro dancer to ChivaGirl to Laker Girl to Silver Dancer, with a path that included auditions that ranged from disappointing to those with exhilarating conclusions. But like her NBA moves, no matter what, Anncell is in perpetual motion, and with an ever-present smile. And we just love love love any pro dancer who lists UltimateCheerleaders as their favorite website on their bio. You will see why everyone who encounters Anncell soon adds her to their own personal list of “Favorites.”

Anncell was born and raised in Los Angeles, and lived there until she moved to San Antonio last year. When asked if from birth, she was ‘born to perform,’ Anncell laughs, “I’m not sure if I was ‘born to perform,’ but if you ask my family or friends I’m sure they would beg to differ. Let’s just say I’m very energetic.”

And from day one, Anncell’s relationship to her parents has been truly special. “I cannot even begin to say how truly AMAZING my parents are,” Anncell explains. “They have been so supportive in each and every area of my life and are my biggest cheerleaders. Although I thought they were too strict when I was younger, I now appreciate them and all the opportunities they’ve afforded me. I’m so thankful for their unconditional love, guidance, and support.”

After a season with the Laker Girls, Anncell now dances for the Spurs

“My favorite feature about my mom is her wisdom,” Anncell continues. “No matter what’s going on in my life, I know I can count on her to give me sound advice. My dad is very corny and goofy but that’s definitely what I love most about him.” So what traits from her amazing parents does the amazing Anncell attribute to them? “As far as my personality is concerned, I’m a mix of my mom’s sass and wisdom and my dad’s generosity and sense of humor,” Anncell answers.

Dancing was not always ‘love at first tap’ for Anncell. “My love for dance did not start in the typical way,” Anncell explains. “When my mom was growing up, she really wanted to be a dancer but her family couldn’t afford it. When she was a senior in high school, she finally was able to be a cheerleader, and went on to cheer in college and even joined a dance company. Because of her love for dance, she put me in dance classes at a very early age. To be completely honest I HATED it. I would cry on the way to Saturday morning dance classes because all I wanted to do was stay at home and watch cartoons, or go to the mall with my friends. I even went to a performing arts high school, so I had to dance at school, too. I really didn’t apply myself and didn’t realize at the time how much I loved dance because I was too focused on the fact that I didn’t want to do it.”

But once she could choose not to dance, Anncell made a surprising choice. “When I turned eighteen and started college, I had my way,” Anncell remembers. “I no longer had to dance. By the end of my first semester I felt like something was missing in my life, so I signed up for tap class as an elective. Taking the tap class is when it hit me. I knew what was missing. I missed the feeling of performing and expressing myself through movement! I missed it so much I ended up joining the cheerleading squad.”

Continue reading Pro cheer siren’s call to be a Spurs Silver Dancer draws Anncell to a whole new world in San Antonio

Photo of the Year – December 30

Between Christmas and New Year’s we are showcasing the year’s favorite photos from our contributors.

When James came up with the idea of each of us selecting our “Photo of the Year,” it seemed like a daunting task. So many dance teams. So many wonderful and talented people and exciting events. I didn’t know how I would choose just one. But then events conspired to make the choice for me. A couple of weeks ago, I learned that the ChivaGirls, a group of truly awesome young ladies, had been axed. Chivas USA has undergone a change in management, resulting in big time restructuring. No part of the organization has been spared, from the front office, to the coaches, to the support staff, and sadly, the ChivaGirls, a team that has been particularly close to my heart. I have been with them through auditions, mini camp, rehearsals, performances, celebrations, and so many ups and downs. So there was no question that the ChivaGirls would be my photo of the year.

The photo above shows veteran ChivaGirl Whitney with a young fan. I chose this particular image because Whitney, who is also a alum of the Clippers Spirit, could be the poster child for pro sports dancers everywhere. Smart, fun, kind, warm, generous, approachable, strong, a badass dancer, an energetic performer, and a good friend, she epitomizes everything there is to like about all of the young women in this industry. So while this is a photo of Whitney in particular, but it also represents her teammates and so many of you out there who embody the same characteristics. Raise your glasses, ladies. It’s been a hell of year!

Photo of the Weekend – October 6 & 7

Rookie ChivaGirl Mekayla
May 19, 2012

I owe Mekayla a huuuuuge apology. A few months ago, I congratulated her teammates Andi and Melissa for being selected to the 2012-13 Laker Girls. But I didn’t mention Miss Mekayla, who also made Lakers. Bad Sasha! Bad! Honestly, I can’t remember if I didn’t know about Mekayla at the time, or if I just had a complete brain fart. In any case, I’m super proud of her, so I’m here to make amends.


Congratulations Mekayla!
Yo go girl!

Photo of the Weekend – August 11-12

March 2012 – Melissa, behind the scenes at the ChivaGirls photo shoot

Video: some gratuitous bragging on the ChivaGirls

Over the weekend, two rookie members of the ChivaGirls were chosen for the 2012-13 Laker Girls. It got me thinking how proud I am of this team, how talented all the girls are, and how great it is that they’ve allowed me to be part of their family. So I thought I’d share a couple of videos of the ChivaGirls in action.

The first routine was choreographed by Tim Stevenson. Not only did Tim choreograph it, but he did the music mix, and personalized it for the team. This routine was created for one specific halftime performance, but it was such a hit, the team has tailored it to their pre-game stage performances. The second routine is also a hip hop number, and believe me when I say this routine doesn’t suck either. (I don’t know who choreographed it, so that’s pretty much all I’m going to say about that.)

I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I do!

Side note: Congratulations Melissa and Andi! Chivas USA’s loss is the Lakers’ gain.

Video: ChivaGirls Work It

My peeps the ChivaGirls absolutely killed it during this halftime performance. They were 21 strong, with all 19 members of the team, plus choreographer Tim Stevenson and Laura, their coach. (Laura “thought” she retired after last season, but has found herself stepping in as an alternate more games than not. Homegirl’s still got it.)
So proud of them. Check it out!

[Click here] for more photos from the game.

ChivaGirls Update

The dance team for MLS Chivas USA is in midseason form! Click here to check out photos from their home game on 4/21. For this game, they wore their brand new promo dresses, which are stinkin’ adorable and were a big hit with the fans.

Click here for more photos from the game!

Checking in with the ChivaGirls

The 2012 ChivaGirls! Back row (left to right): Traci, Denise, Sarah, Melissa, Brittany, Chandra, Alex, Maryedith, Cynthia, and Lucy. Front row: Cameron, Mekayla, Ashley, Natalie, Andi, Brandy, Sujan, Shauna, and Whitney.

It’s March, and the Major League Soccer season is well underway. The ChivaGirls, dance team for Chivas USA have hit their stride. With only two games under their sparkly belts, they’ve experienced both the highs and lows of pro sports entertainment. The home opener on March 11 was a blast. It’s always exciting to get back out there after a few months of hiatus. The girls mingled with fans before the game, signing autographs and taking lots of pictures. They also performed two short dance routines on a stage outside of the arena. Their performance at halftime was a real marathon, with a kickline, individual introductions, and a full out routine to Flor Rida’s “Good Feeling.” The crowd’s energy was up and all the girls were riding high after the game.


Click here to check out the photos from the home opener.

Game two was six days later, on St. Patrick’s Day. All week long, local meteorologists broadcasted dire warnings about major storms over the coming weekend. (This being Southern California, “major storms” consist mostly of some rain and maybe some wind, but around here it’s a BIG deal.) It was cloudy and cool during the pre game rehearsal. All of the ChivaGirls were bundled up, until they got warm enough from dancing to peel off layers of scarves and sweatshirts. No one said it, but they were all thinking about how cold they were in sweats, and how much MORE fun the weather would be once they ‘d changed into their uniforms. Spandex has many outstanding qualities, but warmth isn’t one of them.

When it was time to go out and meet the fans, the girls marched out with their chins up. Not a one of them complained as the signed autographs for fans who were bundled up in blankets, hats and scarves. The girls just kept smiling and while the wind flipped their skirts around and blew their hair every which way.

We are very very very cold.

It was cloudy during rehearsal. It was cloudy before the game. It was cloudy during pre-game. And it was cloudy as the girls headed out for halftime. But everyone was jazzed because we’d escaped the big rain storm. The halftime performance was a novelty dance to “Shake Your Groove Thing.” There were some cartwheels involved in the choreography, and no one had looked forward to cartwheeling on a muddy soccer field in the rain.

About to take the field for halftime. Poor unsuspecting dears.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature was in a snarky mood that night. It started drizzling just before the girls took the field, and turned into a full on downpour during their routine.

And then just as they hit the ending pose, the rain stopped.

I don’t think it rained again the rest of the night. How fortunate we were that the sixty-second rain storm took place entirely during the ChivaGirls halftime performance. But these girls are pros. The photos don’t tell the true story. Yeah, there are rain spots on their uniforms and a little stringy-ness to their hair, but otherwise you can’t tell at all they were freezing their pom poms off the whole night. Good times, ladies. Good times.


Click here to check out the rest of the photos from game 2.


Congratulations 2012 ChivaGirls!

2012 ChivaGirls to be Announced today!

In the meantime, watch the dancers strut their stuff for the judges at Tuesday night’s final audition.

ChivaGirl Finals Tonight!

Tonight, a truly outstanding group of dancers will put it all out on the dance floor, in the hope of making the team. I’ll provide photos, etc in the next couple of days. But for now, I want to wish each and every young lady the best of luck.

Here they are (minus Whitney and Sherra, who I didn’t get photos of at Sunday’s interviews. My bad.)

Alexandra, Stephanie, Kyra, and Traci

Alyson, Lauren, and Mekayla

Ari, Sonia, Cameron, and Denise

Ashley, Bernadette, Merria, and Sabrina

Chandra, Andi, and Sujan

Jenny, Melissa, Maryedith, and Cynthia

Joanne, Brittany, Brandy, and Natalie

Lucy and Dani

Tina, Shauna, Sarah, and Simmone

ChivaGirl Auditions Mañana!

BIGTIME thanks to Will for sending the link the this video he produced the year before last.

Looks like fun, doesn’t it?

Audition for the ChivaGirls on Saturday!

Woohoo – can’t wait! If you’re not sure, why not give it a go anyway? If nothing else, it’s a free dance class with John Peters, who is friggin’ awesome.

Click here for details.

What to expect from this year’s auditions:

Check out some highlights from the 2011 season:

ChivaGirls: Looking Back and Moving Forward

In case you hadn’t noticed from the banner in rotation at the top of this page, ChivaGirl auditions are coming up soon. January 21st to be exact. (Write it down. Circle it in red.) Those of you who have been with us for a while, know that the ChivaGirls are one of my very favoritest teams. Favoritest. Yes. That is what I said.

Over the past several years, I have watched this program develop and mature by leaps and bounds. It has been an exciting time. This is a team with highest of standards in choreography, performance, professionalism, and costuming. Besides that, they are outgoing, fun, and just a great group of talented dancers. I know this because I’ve spent many many hours with them. All last season, in fact. I hung around so much, they made me their official photographer.* (It goes with my modus operandi: Grab hold and cling like a barnacle until they accept you as one of their own.)

Having said all that, it’s no surprise that I have a vested interest in seeing this team become the very best of the best. The group of women who auditioned last year was the most talented bunch yet, and I hope the bar will be raised even higher in 2012. Seriously, it just keeps getting better.

So here I am, doing my small part to get the word out about auditions.

Did I mention the open call is on January 21st?
Did you write it down? And circle it in red?
(Click here for audition details.)

If there’s anything I can do to attract the most positive, talented, beautiful, committed, and outgoing dancers, I’m going to do it. And I figure the best way I can help is by showing rather than telling.

Below are some of my favorite moments from 2011. (Please click here to check out the entire collection of photos from last season. )


One thing the ChivaGirls do a lot of is rehearsing. Twice during the week, and also before each home game.


Their very first performance as the 2011 ChivaGirls.
The new uniforms hadn’t arrived yet.


Introducing the promo squad! A huge portion of the Chivas USA fan base has roots in Latin America, so it’s important to have ChivaGirls who speak Spanish. In recent years, it has become more and more difficult to find young women who are excellent in both areas: dance as well as fluency in the Spanish. ChivaGirls Director Aimee Edmundson solved the problem by creating the Promo Squad. The promo girls are non-dancing ChivaGirls who are bilingual and represent Chivas USA during both English and Spanish-speaking appearances. The promo squad was a big hit and will definitely be back in 2012. (Pictured above: Alma, Luz, and Gladys)


The ChivaGirls perform two dance numbers before each game, and they rehearse right up until they go onstage.


A shameless cry for attention, but I guess you can’t blame a guy for trying.


ChivaGirl alumni Emi, Mandi, Ariel, and Liz came for the game, and cheered louder than anyone else in the crowd. All four of these ladies went on to dance for other pro teams after ChivaGirls. Emi danced for Tokyo Apache, an NBA-style dance team in Japan. Mandi, Ariel, and Liz danced for the Los Angeles Clippers. Ariel is currently a Charger Girl and Liz is a new mommy.

Hey, I wonder if I could talk Emi and Mandi into coming back…?


The ChivaGirls sign autographs before every home game. It’s one of their favorite parts of the gig.


Brittany especially likes talking with the little ones.


Poor Britt. I don’t think the Hamburger Helper was fully in control of all of his appendages

Sidebar: Does anyone else think the Hamburger Helper is a little…creepy? Notice how they never say what happened to his other finger. And what’s he so happy about, anyway?


The ChivaFighter has moves like Jagger. The crowd went wild.


When you rehearse in a shoebox, sooner or later you run into the wall.


A special game with the Sparkle Cheerleaders


First time wearing the new uniforms without the jacket. It took some getting used to. Everyone was feeling kind of nekkid.


The Fourth of July performance.
Every year, with those wacky hats.
This year I hope to talk Aimee into sparklers and fire batons.


Oy vey, these mashugana tube tops. They looked fabulous under the lights, but hip hop in a tube top? Are you high? With 19 girls on the field, a wardrobe malfunction seemed inevitable. But we pinned those tube tops six ways from Sunday and the number went off without a hitch. Thank you, God.


(Sigh.) Ancell, Jenn, and Linette won’t be back next year, but for the best of reasons.
You can’t be a Laker Girl and a ChivaGirl at the same time.


The girls wore these outfits for the big Chivas USA vs. LA Galaxy game. This is always the biggest game of the season. You should’ve seen the looks on their faces when they got a load of these. But they looked fantastic on the field, and besides, it’s not like they had to wear fruit on their heads.

The funniest thing about these outfits is some of them were “slightly irregular.” Whitney’s outfit was clearly not inspected by #12. One of the ruffles on her sleeve had been sewn clear across the front of the blouse, almost all the way to the other shoulder. I think someone at the factory had a little drinky drink at work that day.


Zumba night! A big group of Zumba-ers arranged to perform at halftime. Aimee threw the ChivaGirls into the mix to make it look more like a production and less like a massive aerobics class. Everybody Zumba!


Several of the home games are “dance nights” when cheer and dance teams from local schools perform alongside the ChivaGirls at halftime. The little ones always have lots of questions for the ChivaGirls.


The 9/11 tribute. Beautiful.


Cam’s first game without braces. Smile!


Handing out candy for Halloween


Every year, for the Halloween game, the ChivaGirls make their own poms to match their costumes. After halftime, they give the poms away to little girls in the stands.


Halloween was also Laura’s last game. From now on, she’s Staff.


From the first game…


…to the last game, it was a pleasure.

So now I have shown you a little bit of what it’s like to be a ChivaGirl. If this looks like a fun gig to you, make sure you turn up at auditions on the 21st!


*I am aware that some of you may be asking yourselves, “Hmm…if she had all of these photos, why didn’t she post any of them on this site?” Ok, I’m sorry for holding out on you, but it was for a good cause. It’s a long story, but suffice it to say that the photos were going to be posted on the Chivas USA site, but then stuff happened, as it usually does. There was an array of technical difficulties that made the situation a non-starter. Hopefully that will change this year. (And if not, I promise to post the photos here in a more timely fashion.)

Another alum goes bridal

Kortney Yarbrough is getting married. I discovered this over the holiday weekend when I scrolled through my DVR list and came across a couple of forgotten episodes of TLC’s “Brides of Beverly Hills.”

First, I want to make it clear straight away that I do NOT watch this show. I love costumes and fancy dresses, and I will admit to watching every episode (and numerous repeats) of “Say Yes to the Dress.” But “Brides of Beverly Hills” isn’t my cup of tea. I set up a season pass for it, and I watched the first couple of episodes, but couldn’t take anymore after that. The show’s star, Renee Strauss, owner of Renee Strauss for the Bride in Beverly Hills is both two-faced (for talking smack about her clientele behind their backs) and a moron (for doing it on camera), and her friend Kevin Lee (an obvious alum of the Bobby Trendy School of Trying Way Too Hard) makes me cringe. Literally. Every time he says the word “FAB-uh-luss!” my shoulders go up, my back hunches over, and my face gets all scrunchy. He is SUCH a tool. And if this show lasts past this season, I will be very surprised. (Especially due to Renee Strauss’ recent financial issues, but you ain’t heard about that from me.)

Anywho, I was about to delete the show when the episode synopsis caught my eye. “Episode: 12 – Kourtney/Mariflor. A former professional football cheerleader comes in to Renee’s salon with her mom and friends in search of the perfect wedding dress.” I had no idea who this “former cheerleader” might be, so yeah, I sat down and watched it. I took one for the team.

I immediately recognized Kortney. How could I not? She’s a total knockout without even trying. Kortney, a cool chick, by all accounts, is an alum of the Long Beach Breaker Girls, Chivas USA ChivaGirls, San Diego Charger Girls, and AVP Dancers (in that order). I don’t know her directly, but I’ve got one degree of separation through several different people.



Kortney was a ChivaGirl for 2 seasons


Kortney was a Charger Girl for 1 season


Kortney was an AVP Dancer for 1 season


Depending on when the show was taped, Kortney is either engaged, or already married, to a pro surfer. This guy, whose name I can’t find anywhere:

Let me just say that I don’t blame Kortney for being on this awful show. This is the first season. She couldn’t have known. In any case, she found her way someway, somehow, to Renee Strauss’ bridal salon, mother and best friend in tow, and she tried on a few gowns, including the blue St. Pucchi creation in the clip below.

It’s a unique dress. It’s an expensive dress ($17,000!!) And I really hope Kortney didn’t buy it. I really hope she took her hard earned money and spent it somewhere else, but I’ll never know. (To date, I still haven’t made it all the way through an episode of this show.)

In any case, best of luck-slash-congratulations to Kortney and her fiancee. I’m sure either was, or will be, a beautiful bride, no matter what dress she chose.