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Checking in with the City Girls

Here’s the latest on the City Girls, from their director Lisa Sonberg:

Orlando City Soccer is a new team to Orlando bringing a professional soccer team to the mix of professional sports teams to the area (Arena football and the NBA are other pro teams of particular status). OCS is a USL team (United Soccer League) with a huge fan base after only one season. We were the USL “champions” our first season and we are looking to be an MLS expansion team by 2013. A huge, but very likely, advancement.

Our City Girls are not only dancers, but ambassadors to the team and have been involved in the community with appearances to charity events and and team functions to support our players.
Last season, being a new team, we had very little turn out to our dance team auditions. The team was comprised of 12 dancers. Our goal was 16. Every dancer was committed to our effort to make Orlando City soccer a “name” in the community. We rounded out the 2011 season with an offer to represent our girls in the Hank Williams Jr “Monday Night Football” pre-game video played for all the NFL games. Unfortunately, after only 2 showings, the commercial was cancelled. It was a great experience and exposure for the girls none-the-less.

We had a turn out of about 30 girls for our preliminary auditions this year (held at the Center for Contemporary Dance, a City Girl sponsor for rehearsal space, on February 4th). Preliminaries consisted of a $25 entry fee, an application highlighting prior experience, commitment level, and a “head shot”. On arrival, the girls learned an across the floor combination and a short pom routine. After which, a cut was made, and another, more technical dance was taught. Finalists were announced after all had performed (20 progressed to finals round).

Finalists were required to present to the OCS office for interviews with the owner and director of community relations, Kay Rawlins, myself (Lisa Sonberg-director) and co director Peggy Bertwell Williams. The applicants learned about the club and the “vision” of OCS. They were able to ask questions about the team and were asked questions about prior dance experience and commitment level.
Finals were held at Mojo Bar and Grill (an OCS sponsor) on Feb 12th. We had 6 judges: 2 from the “Monsters in the Morning” local radio show, our assistant head soccer coach Ian Fuller, Mitch Doran (Office Furniture Outlet- another City Girl Sponsor), myself and Peggy (the City Girls directors). Finalist performed in Groups of 2 and were able to perform 2 dances (one pom and one technical). The dancers were also able to choreograph 2, 8 counts of their own to highlight individual talent.

After all had performed, the judges deliberated while a dance contest was held comprised of participants in the crowd.

The 2012 City Girls were announced and given OCS t-shirts, a rose, and OCS paraphernalia (temporary tattoos and window decals). Photos were taken of our newest ambassadors.
Kristin- veteran


Orlando City Soccer holds their dance team auditions in January or February each year for their upcoming season. Please contact Lisa Sonberg Lnorred@hotmail.com for more information regarding auditioning for the team.

Auditioning for the Pistons Dance Team: One Dancer’s Story


Dancing Towards a Dream: Part One
By Matt Waymire
< "http://www.connectmidmichigan.com/sports/sports_story.aspx?id=329161">Connect Mid Michigan
July 25, 2009

AUBURN HILLS — There are those who can dance, and there are those who were seemingly born to dance. And it’s easy to see which category Flint Northern alum Santana White falls under.

“I’ve been dancing since I was two around the house,” said the 24 year-old White. “Christmas-time I would gather my family together, everybody would watch me dance. So, it comes naturally. The last two years of high school, I decided to try out for Majorettes. We called ourselves the best band in the land, basically. We won a lot of competitions.”

“It was a great joy, it was really, along with other parents,” added Diana White, Santana’s mother. “And I even was a band booster, so I traveled along with the band, and was heavily involved in their activities. And it makes you as a parent, proud. ‘Cause you want to be supportive of your children.”

And just like her daughter’s days in high school, there was Diana in the stands for Tuesday’s auditions…and it didn’t take long for mother and daughter to see the daunting competition that lay ahead. Altogether, there were nearly 150 young women auditioning for a mere 15 openings. And thus began a long, grueling day.

“In order to be able to dance at the level that they’re dancing at, for this professional team, they have to be physically fit,” said Rebecca Girard, Dance Team Director for Automotion. “You have to be able to endure through the tough choreography, and it’s so much harder than people think it is. So, athleticism and physical fitness are really key components.”

But there was another key trait to be displayed, as well: the ability to learn quickly, VERY quickly. The girls were taught an intricate dance routine which they would have to perform individually in front of judges.

After a number of run-throughs, it was Santana’s turn to step to the plate and perform the routine, which would determine whether contestant number 484 would survive the day’s first round of cuts.

“It was challenging but, you have to learn it so quick when you’re just…you’re trying to look like you’re smiling and enjoying it, and still remembering the steps,” said Santana. “It was challenging, but fun. I’m just praying and hoping for the best, I’m not sure. A lot of talented young ladies here, we’ll see.”

After a brief time to relax, Santana and the other ladies learned their immediate fate through a simple piece of paper, which contained the numbers (484) Santana was hoping to see.

Coming up in our next installment, we’ll see how Santana fares in the second round of auditions, and also learn more about what it takes to become a member of the Automotion dance team.

Dancing Towards a Dream: Part Two
By Matt Waymire
< "http://www.connectmidmichigan.com/sports/sports_story.aspx?id=329304">Connect Mid Michigan
July 26, 2009

AUBURN HILLS — In part one of our feature, we met Flint native Santana White, who made it through the first round of cuts in her quest to become a member of the Detroit Pistons’ Dance Team “Automotion.”

So it may surprise you to find out that Santana hasn’t danced in front of a crowd in nearly three years. So how in the world did she shake off all that rust?

“I just pulled out my Michael Jackson greatest hits, Beyonce and all that, and just started dancing around the house,” said a smiling Santana. “It’s natural to me, but of course I’m still nervous. But dancing…you can either dance or you can’t, usually. That’s how it goes.”

But make no mistake, Santana’s been plenty the past three years, working as a promotional model for companies like Mattel and Sirius/XM Satellite Radio. And as it turns out, her work in this avenue directly corrolates to the numerous other traits that an Automotion dancer must possess.

“Number one, they have to be great ambassadors, and really in touch with the public relations and the community service aspect of the job,” said Dance Team Director Rebecca Girard. “So dancing is almost secondary really, if you think about it. But they need to have great personal business skills.”

That aspect of the audition took place on day two, but first thing’s first. Santana needs to survive two more cuts of dancing tryouts on day one…and the routines only became more demanding, and more complex.

Though she struggled at times in front of the judges, Santana still put forth a solid effort, and she anxiously awaited her individual critique.

“484 (Santana’s number), I need some confidence from you, as well, but a smile on your face,” said Tricia Crawford, an Automotion choreographer. “Also, watch some of your arm placements. Sometimes they’re being thrown there instead of placed there, so really watch your arm placement. Then separate your styles a little bit more. Jazz kinda looked the same as hip-hop, and vice-versa. So try and separate the two different styles.”

After waiting over an hour, the numbers of the girls who advanced were finally announced. But unfortunately, the number 484 was not among those called.

With that, Santana’s Automotion journey came to an end. She was obviously disappointed, but the positives still far outweighed the negatives.

“It was a good experience, even though it didn’t, you know…the results I didn’t get that I wanted, but it was a good experience,” said Santana. “I haven’t danced in a long time, so…it was fun. I got to meet interesting girls, and it was an interesting experience.”

So even though her goal of joining Automotion is put on hold for now, Santana believes she will be dancing somewhere in the very near future…and gearing up for the 2010 Automotion tryouts all the while.

FIU Cheerleaders are Back with a New Gig

Last month, as a part of budget cuts, Florida International University eliminate the school’s cheerleading team. The good news is the squad is coming back, but will have to rely on private donations for funding.

The Miami Herald reports that the squad is teaming up with Miami’s Professional Soccer team:

Miami FC is partnering with FIU’s recently defunded cheerleading team to help the nationally ranked group raise the money needed to keep the program alive.

The team will sell Blues tickets both on campus and in the community, and will keep a portion of the proceeds. In return, 15 members of the team will be Miami FC Cheerleaders for the rest of the season.

The FIU Cheerleaders are under the direction of Maria George.

mariageorgeMost currently, Maria was a Professional Cheerleader for the National Football League with the Miami Dolphins. A member of this elite cheerleading squad and organization (98-00), she was chosen as a member of the selective “show team” (travel squad) performing all over the world, in addition to, on the sidelines where she was a team co-captain.  She is now benefiting from her time with the Dolphins, as a member of the professional cheerleaders alumni. The PCA is a new organization consisting of alumni cheerleaders from the NFL and NBA, who raise money for women and children’s charities. Also an entrepreneur, she is a partner in a planning and public relations company.

A collegiate cheerleader with the impressive Division I University of Pittsburgh Panthers, she was active with the dance team, Pantherette program and an instructor & trainer with the Elite cheerleading organization. On the cheerleading circuit, she was also chosen Division I-A All America.

After receiving a B.A. in communications from Pitt, Maria started her own cheer/dance school in western Pennsylvania where her all-star competition squads were created. The Mon Valley All Stars and Steele City All Stars have captured numerous local, state, regional, and national titles under her direction.

[FIU Cheerleading]

Wizard of Oz Star Taps Her Heels

By Roger Schlueter

amyhollandpenellramsWhen Amy Holland Pennell delivers the classic “There’s no place like home!” line tonight, she’ll mean it more than most in the audience might imagine.

For the past three years, this multitalented 1999 Granite City High School graduate has been in Los Angeles, working her way up the star ladder. Just recently, she put the wraps on her starring role as Alice Bordeaux in John Ward’s “The Ten Commandments,” which is due out later this year.

But by a stroke of luck, she returned to St. Louis recently for another audition, and Beverley Scroggins, her high school drama coach, pounced on the opportunity. Scroggins landed her former student for the lead role of Dorothy in the Summerstage production of “The Wizard of Oz” at 7:30 p.m. tonight through Saturday at Granite City High School.
Continue reading Wizard of Oz Star Taps Her Heels

Chicago Storm Chasers Dance Team

Reader Joel was at the XSL Chicago Storm game on Sunday and he sent us a few photos of the Storm’s Dance Team, The Storm Chasers.

Rachel M. is a freshman business major.

Alison (left) is also a member of the Schaumburg Flyers Dance Team. Rachel R. (right) is a third-year law student.

Destiny, Jasmine and Olivia. In high school Destiny was a member of State Champion Drill Team, “Rich Central Sparkettes.” Jasmine was I captain of her high school’s varsity pom squad. Olivia was part of the 2007 AIFA Baltimore Blackbirds Dance Team, the 2007-2008 PBL Maryland Nighthawks Dance Team.

Elizabeth danced for the Schaumburg Flyers last season.

Jasmine and Stephanie. Stephanie is a former Chicago Luvabull.

Lindsay and Allison. Lindsay earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Fashion Marketing and Management from the Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago. Allison

Rachel M. and Jasmine

Stephanie B.

[Chicago Storm Chasers]