Rookie cheerleaders Marissa and Vanessa M tackle some of the most frequently asked questions about the 2009 Texans Cheerleader Tryouts, which are fast approaching on April 18.
Are there any height or weight requirements?
Marissa: No, there are not any height or weight requirements, but you should be in good physical condition – so please keep in shape.
Are there any age requirements?
Vanessa M: Yes, there are age requirements. By April 18, you have to be 18 years old. There's no maximum age limit. This year on the squad, we had girls ranging from 18 years old to 30 years old.
What other requirements are there?
Marissa: You must be a high school graduate or have a GED. You must be a full-time student or have a full-time job. You can even be a full-time mother; we had a mother on the team this past year. And please make sure to bring a photo of yourself.
What should I wear to tryouts?
Vanessa M: You definitely want to wear dance-friendly shoes. My recommendation is if you feel comfortable enough, wear boots. You definitely want to stand out. You want to grab the judges' attention. Wear a midriff top, anything that's form-fitting. This year, you really want to stand out because there are going to be lots of girls there and you want the judges to notice you. I know last year, I got my outfit at Target, didn't spend too much money on it, put some rhinestones on it and called it quits and came out. And look where I am!
What about my appearance?
Marissa:Your hair and make-up need to be performance-ready. Please do not have a ponytail; I would recommend to wear your hair down. Also, please make sure your makeup is visible. Don't forget, the judges sit far away, and you want to stand out.
Can I have a tattoo?
Vanessa M: Yes, you can definitely have a tattoo. You just need to make sure that you cover it up with some makeup or it's covered by your outfit.
Can my family come to watch the auditions?
Marissa:No, your family cannot come and watch auditions. Auditions are closed to the public.
What will the judges be looking for? Vanessa M:The judges will be looking for dance ability. You definitely want to be able to pick up the choreography fast; it's going to be taught fast. We do learn lots of dances fast throughout the season. Your showmanship – you definitely want to stand out. You're dancing in front of hundreds of judges. They're just picturing you on the field in front of 70,000 fans, so you want to be able to stand out to the guy in the nosebleeds. Also, they're going to be looking at your appearance. You want to make sure you're in the best physical shape you can be. There are going to be hundreds of girls there. You definitely want to rock it with your body.
Marissa:Judges are also looking at your personality. Don't forget, at tryouts, you're always being watched. We have plenty of appearances during the year, so the judges want to make sure that you can interact with the fans.
What is the time commitment? Is this a full-time job?
Marissa:No, being a Houston Texans Cheerleader is not a full-time job. Most of our team members are full-time students, are full-time mothers or have a full-time job. The time commitment is usually three practices during the week. There are also 10 home games, and you're required to do around 30-40 appearances during the season.
Are the cheerleaders paid?
Vanessa M: Yes, we are paid. We're paid for our practices, performances at the game and also our appearances. And our uniforms are also paid for, too.
What can I do to prepare for auditions?
Marissa:Contact your local dance studio and ask about classes that work on your technique and your choreography. Don't forget, you need to work on your turns and your kicks. We have a lot of choreography, so you need to learn how to pick up dances quickly.
Vanessa M: I know my favorite place to take dance classes is the **Houston Metropolitan Dance Center**. I say it's the best place to take dance classes because you can take a great jazz class that will work on your technique, your turns, kicks, everything that we do, and our routines. And (they have) a hip hop class. The hip hop class is great because you get to work on your freestyle. Every year during auditions, you always have to freestyle, and this is a perfect time during a hip hop class to be able to freestyle and work on some funk routines. It's just a really great environment. You definitely want to be able to pick up choreography, feel comfortable freestyling and just really show your personality to judges.
What if I've already tried out and didn't make it?
Vanessa M:You definitely don't want to get discouraged. Come to tryouts – this is the year to try out. It took me two years to try out (before making it).
Marissa: It took me six years of auditioning before I actually made it as a Houston Texans Cheerleader, so please, don't feel discouraged and please come out and try out, because you never know what's going to happen. And you can follow of the cheerleader tryouts coverage on HoustonTexans.com.
Vanessa M:We hope to see you there!