What do you want to be when you grow up? I still ask myself that question. Growing up, my answer was immediate. Actress. Most kids pick something big and grand and maybe sometimes, it’s more a dream than a reality. I used to feel that way about acting, but I don’t anymore, because I feel like it’s just within reach.
I still have big dreams – it’s fun to daydream. Like how some day I will be a dancer; back up for music videos or something of that nature. I’ve always loved dancing. It started with midget cheerleading when I was 5 or 6 years old. God, was cheerleading fun. The uniforms, the excitement of the football game, the cupcakes at halftime, and of course the attention.
I’ve always said and still believe that cheerleading was so much different when I was little. All of my coaches were the coolest, prettiest, most amazing people I had ever seen. Cheerleading was big. It was like it was in the movies, I guess, where the cheerleaders made up the “popular” girls. I looked up to all my coaches so much.
But the absolute best part of cheerleading was the dances. As soon as my coach pressed play on the boom box for us to practice, I was high on life. It was an adrenaline rush every time. When we actually did it for a real game, the song would play through the speakers so that everyone in the stadium could hear.
I don’t think I ever got tired from practicing the dances. It would be getting dark and some of the girls would start to complain, but I swear, I could have done it all night. My little sisters will probably attest to this. I’d make up dances with them and in the beginning, they’d be all into it. Two hours later they were complaining to Mom that they didn’t want to do it anymore and that I was being mean. Sometimes my Mom would make them finish, because she always said, “You have to finish what you start.” But when she started to see how much of a Nazi I was, she’d cut the twins some slack.
Going into high school, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to play field hockey or do cheerleading. I will never hear the end of this. Ms. Decker (the high school coach), called Mom and told her, basically, that I had to play field hockey. She loses plenty of girls to soccer, or even tennis maybe, but cheerleading? She wasn’t having it. I didn’t take that much convincing, because cheerleading wasn’t what it used to be, and I was falling in love with hockey, but Ms. Decker still tells that story to this day (and I still call her Ms. Decker even though she’s told me a number of times to call her Linda).
I still did cheerleading during high school, just not for the high school team. It was for the township. It wasn’t as exciting as it used to be, and after that year I stopped. I tried out junior year for some traveling team, but decided not to do it because it was so expensive. It really just wasn’t my thing anymore.
Instead, I participated in the high school lip sync contest with Colette and the Stevers. This was the most fun thing I’ve ever done. Freshmen year, we made an oldies’ mix. Colette and I were basically in charge of the music and the moves, and the Stevers’ were willing to make the time and learn it. The auditorium was full and everyone was cheering. It was such a rush.
Sophomore year we got serious. We learned the dance to Britney Spears’ Crazy from her music video. I taped it from TRL onto a VHS and would practice for hours by myself, learning the moves to teach the girls. Any move I couldn’t figure out, Colette would have already mastered by the time we all met up to practice. Colette also made this awesome, massive “Crazy” sign that hung above us and lit up (I still don’t know how she made it).
The Stevers and I were on the basketball team, and of course Coach Filipek wouldn’t let us leave practice early to go home and shower and get ready for the show. Instead, our sweaty selves had to change in the locker room before making our way over to the auditorium.
Again, the place was packed and somehow we were placed last on the list to perform. I think partly because they knew we’d be late, but partly because they knew we were going to put on an awesome performance. And then we won. The school dance team was shocked and it’s safe to say – pissed off. I have to admit, it’s one of my greatest high school accomplishments.
Junior and senior year we performed again. 11th grade was Christina Aguilera’s Come on Over and 12th grade we started with Ain’t Too Proud to Beg and finished with Motown Philly. The Lip Sync crowd had faded, though. People weren’t coming out for it like they did previous years. I don’t know why, but it was disappointing to say the least. Sophomore year will always stand out as the year we rocked.
In college, I had the chance to dance on stage again. It was junior year, and I made the cut to be a Kit Kat Girl for Cabaret. This dancing was not the kind of dancing I knew. These girls had real dance backgrounds. My instructor used all these terms I didn’t know. I just followed the girls’ leads. The day she asked if I could put a girl up in a prep, I was so excited to know what she was talking about – my old cheerleading self kicked into gear.
These rehearsals were brutal. Still fun as dancing always is, but exhausting and tiring long. By the time we were performing for a live audience, I didn’t feel like the outsider anymore. I was a Kit Kat Girl. I was confident on stage (maybe not so much with the singing).
Since college, there aren’t many opportunities to dance on stage for an audience. I’d like to take some classes, like hip hop or swing. I’ve actually been looking into it, even though I’m definitely not going to do it. If I have money for a class it’s going to be an acting class. It’s funny, though, how dancing and performing has really always been a part of my life. Even if I can’t afford to take classes, I can always blast music in the apartment and dance in front of my mirror (when Mike’s not home).