A Gotham City Cheerleader
So as I espied our next P-R-O Convention All Star, I was reminded of a movie that I saw many years ago. It was Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, you know the one with the female terminator. Well our next honoree bears a striking resemblance to the actress who portrayed the Terminatrix, Kristanna Loken. With movie star good looks and a presence on the dance floor that stands out, introducing Gotham City Cheerleader Christie, our next 2015 P-R-O Convention All Star.
I’ll be back with more 2015 P-R-O Convention All Star profiles soon.
The Gotham City Cheerleaders Perform Outside MetLife Stadium as the Unofficial Squad of the Giants
By Benjamin Norman
New York Times
The Gotham City Cheerleaders have one mission: to become the official cheerleading team of the Giants.
The team, started in 2011 by a former Washington Redskins cheerleader, Ana De Villegas, operates like any official N.F.L. cheerleading squad: It practices a few times a week, performs at events, has its own uniforms and even produces a swimsuit calendar.
But you will not see these cheerleaders on the sidelines at Giants home games. Instead, they hit the pavement outside MetLife Stadium, performing at tailgate parties in the parking lot with the hope that word of mouth and a growing fan base will persuade the franchise to bring them inside.
The Giants are one of six teams in the N.F.L. without an official cheerleading squad. John Mara, one of the Giants’ owners, has said, “It’s just not part of our philosophy.”
Shortly after forming the cheerleading team, De Villegas reached out to the Giants, but she never got a response. So she decided to build her brand from the ground up.
As the team makes its way around the parking lot, the reactions are mostly favorable. Fans cheer for the women and often join their dance circles. Teenage boys and young female cheerleaders line up for selfies and autographed calendars. The squad frequently, politely, declines invitations for beer and burgers from tailgaters.
However, the women also often hear grumbling about “tradition,” and how the Giants need a new offensive line more than cheerleaders.
They also regularly hear, “Wait, the Giants have cheerleaders?”
To De Villegas, her squad and their fans, the Giants do — just not inside the stadium.
The Gotham City Cheerleaders during my visit last month.
The squad in front of MetLife Stadium
Striking a pose during pre-game rehearsal at Redd’s
Karen is Miss February in the GCC Swimsuit Calendar
Kaitlyn dancing with Sibile Marcellus from Fox News
The Gotham City Cheerleaders have always left a lasting impression at P-R-O and they got new uniforms this year. I was fortunate to be able to snag one of them GCCs in their new attire to photograph. Her name is Kaitlyn and I think you can see why she is our latest 2014 P-R-O Convention All Star.
Only a couple more left, see who’s next!
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.”
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.