NFL cheerleader

The dance industry screeched to a sudden hiring halt and an unfortunately-timed one for this year’s professional dance team hopefuls. The majority of NFL dance teams have been forced to cancel or postpone audition dates in March and April due to national and state large-gathering restrictions and closures. With vast uncertainty around what the remainder of 2020 will bring, teams are still pressing forward to find their squad of dancers and are taking hints from businesses across the US: to go virtual. A partial or entirely digital audition process for teams such as the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and the newly formed Las Vegas Raiderettes will bring a variety of changes to this year’s dance teams, or from a more positive perspective: will put the audition odds in your favor!

Just like the teams themselves, the virtual submission requests vary vastly. Similarly to each of their live audition processes, many involve multiple rounds of combinations, kickline sequences, the typical cuts, and anxious waiting periods after every round. The virtual submission format was implemented quickly; although deadlines for about ten teams have already passed, some have time until their final submission dates.

The teams’ coaches have their tried and true methods to finding their cohesive squad of dancers, and most will be imposing the same standards they had in previous years. Rather than seeing for themselves in-person if someone has the right qualities to make their team, they must now experience this through a screen. To simplify the process, some plan to keep many of the same dancers from the 2019-2020 season.

Imagine emerging from this quarantine with a new dance job, and one that you never would have gotten had it not been for these specific circumstances.

It may seem like uncharted territory for some who are accustomed to live dance auditions, but dancers can immediately turn this new video audition format into an advantage. At most auditions, there’s one chance to perform a combination perfectly and many qualified candidates are weeded-out due to nerves and one-time only mistakes. Here’s the thing about video auditions: you can film your submission as many times as needed! Coaches will never know it was filmed 300 times or over the course of a whole week. Those who aren’t necessarily “test-takers” or become nervous in audition rooms full of hundreds of talented dancers, this year, can use the virtual auditions to give them a confidence boost.

One leveled aspect of the playing field is that location and finances are no longer obstacles for dancers who were unable to travel far for auditions. Dreams could come true for dancers who don’t happen to reside near a major metropolitan area, or one specifically with a professional football dance team. Other dancers may have their sights set on a specific cheer team, but live far across the country. Even with a willingness to relocate once you’ve made the team, the travel and lodging during the try-out process can take time and money. Though auditions don’t charge cover at the door, some dancers take a financial hit to attend. Those with current jobs must get these dates off from work, unknowing if you’ll pass through the rounds and actually need every day off. An audition video is created on your own time, and no work days need to be missed this year.

For a handful of teams, there’s still time to get filming! The Cincinnati Bengals’ Ben-Gals Cheerleaders have a submission deadline of May 8, and the Seattle Seahawks Dancers on May 9. The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, an NFL dance team accustomed to a large group of hopefuls, have the last known submission deadline on May 15. 

Although all teams that have postponed their auditions have yet to reschedule a confirmed new date, the following are definitely some to keep on your radar to best prepare for when audition time comes. The Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders are currently holding online tutorials on their social media while they wait for more information, and Washington Redskins Dancers are holding their final virtual prep classes on May 5 and May 7. Both the Houston Texans Cheerleaders and the Tennessee Titans Dancers announced postponed auditions with the current option to register online. Still to decide their next move are the Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders, Carolina Panthers’ TopCatsCheerleaders, Jacksonville Jaguars’ the ROAR of the Jaguars, and L.A. Rams Cheerleaders.

If your dance career interests lie in NBA dance teams, some of their audition seasons typically begin in the early summer months. Keep a close lookout, as pre-audition virtual classes and early submissions may arise soon. If social distancing guidelines become increasingly lax in future months, larger gatherings, such as the 100+ people that attend a dance audition, may still not be permitted in time for when the cheerleaders need to be chosen. 

It may seem like uncharted territory [...], but dancers can immediately turn this new video audition format into an advantage.

If large sporting events take longer to restart, none of the video submission strife should feel like a waste of time or energy. You’ve now improved your dancing, learned new choreography, got yourself into incredible shape, have some excellent footage of yourself to add to a dance reel, gained experience filming and creating a video, and taken a step into the coaches’ radars to be remembered for the next year. What are the cons again?

Though the current situation is very different and uncomfortable for many, the dance industry continues to morph with the changes, and changes that could surprisingly benefit you. Imagine emerging from this quarantine with a new dance job, and one that you never would have gotten had it not been for these specific circumstances. When such an opportunity may never arise again, like having the ability to practice and perfect your NFL professional cheerleader audition, there isn’t a better reason to try now!

About the author

Cleveland mid-westerner Chelsea Hupalowsky spent most of her youth in pointe shoes, then earned her BFA in dance performance from The University of Akron and came out a contemporary dancer. Alongside performing she has taught dance in public schools, rehearsal directed for universities, and has produced shows across the nation. She currently resides in Orlando, performing and playing dance captain at Universal Orlando Resort and Cirque Magique/Cirque by Night. With her leftover spare time, she manages a bar and runs her apparel brand, Concept Hissyfit. Chelsea has been a freelance writer and blogger for over eight years and is ecstatic to be sharing her obsessive passion for dance with anyone who will listen.