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Cheerleader of the Week: Danielle


Texans Cheerleader of the Week Danielle is well-regarded by teammates for her sweet-natured personality and ferocious dance ability.

"Danielle is definitely what I call silent but deadly," cheerleader Vanessa said. "She's very quiet but when she starts dancing is like a completely different person, like (an) alter ego. I love to watch her dance."

An avid hip hop dancer, the second-year veteran mastered several different types of dance on her path to joining the Texans Cheerleaders. It all started in high school when her grandmother convinced her to try out for the drill team.

"I started dancing when I was young on and off, but I really learned how much I really loved it whenever I joined the high school drill team," she said. "It was just one of the best experiences of my life."

That drill team had a unique style, employing a modern, slow-kicking method that emphasized the development of leg strength. It also incorporated various tricks into its repertoires, which would lead to Danielle's first experience of a roaring approval of a crowd.

"We did (a certain trick) in a whole long line and it was just amazing," she said. "Everyone was clapping and it was just a great feeling to get that kind of response from the crowd, so that's kind of where I really learned that it's just so great to work so hard and perform out there and make the crowd love what you do."

That feeling fresh in her mind, Danielle knew she wanted to continue dancing in college.

"I would see those teams on ESPN competing, both the cheerleading and the dance, and I just knew I wanted to be on there one day; they just danced so amazing," she said.

Danielle decided to try out for the dance team at Texas A&M. Its style, however, was more jazz-based than her previous experience, and that much was apparent in her tryout.

"I was actually doing these turns that they're called fouette turns, and your leg is out when you're turning and you're supposed to stay in the same spot," she said. "And I didn't know what I was doing but I was trying my hardest, and I ended up traveling so far I kicked the girl next to me in her leg and felt kind of embarrassed. But I guess I just looked like a hard worker, and they told me to come on the squad."

Danielle would dance at Texas A&M for three-and-a-half years, honing her skills in jazz, leaps, turns and other technical aspects of dance. In her last year, the team went to a national competition in Florida that was televised on ESPN, and her dream that was born in high school watching others dance on ESPN had come true.

After college, Danielle danced for the WNBA Houston Comets' "Team NRG," a male and female squad that choreographed its own hip hop dance routines.

"I learned a lot from them just in hip hop, and that's my favorite style of dance – I think I was born with a little soul maybe in me," Danielle said.

{QUOTE}Other Texans Cheerleaders would certainly agree.

"She looks like this goody two shoes on the outside, but when she starts dancing, she like gets it," Teresa said. "She's definitely a hip hop dancer, so don't let her fool you. She'll like be getting it and you're like, 'Is that Danielle?' and then you're like, 'Yes, that's Danielle.'"

Following one year with the Comets, Danielle arrived on the Texans Cheerleaders – another squad with yet another style, emphasizing "dancing big" and projecting movements to all 70,000 fans in the stadium.

Danielle had previously tried out for the squad twice without making it, but she would not be denied on the third go 'round. She worked hard to lose more than 15 pounds, then upped her performance level at the tryouts.

"I really impressed myself and I learned a lot about myself," she said. "Actually, I learned a lot about my dance ability at the tryouts…I had to show to them and prove to them that I was something that they wanted, so I actually learned how to just work it as hard as I could and to stand out in front of all those people, 800 girls, and do the hair swing and do all that stuff…and I went on to make it."

Cheerleader services manager Alto Gary knows the transformation was not easy.

"Danielle was on a WNBA squad that was mainly hip hop, so it was a definitely a transition in style coming over here," Gary said. "Any time you come from a different team, especially with a different style, you've got to come over and kind of evaluate the situation and see what this team does and then incorporate yourself into what we have to combine it and make a good performer."

Now in her second season with the Texans Cheerleaders, Danielle attends dance classes at Planet Funk studios about once a month to pick up new hip hop techniques – the pop & lock being one of her favorites – which she says help her with the Texans Cheerleaders dances. It's apparent that this dance afficionado is never ready to stop learning more.

"I just think it's important for you to grow, whether it's just finding growth or growing in your talent or in your faith or being a better person, being a better co-worker, a family member, a sister – I just always think that there's something new to learn about life," she said.

"I just am so thankful to be have been a part of so many different teams that have different styles that I feel like have made the dancer that I am today."

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