Last month the Austintown Fitch Falcon cadet danceline entered the VIP Dance competition at Stambaugh Auditorium. They walked away with the gold medal award after placing first in their division.
The girls didn’t just get lucky at the competition, they earned it. According to dance line advisor Lorie Gessler, practice and workouts began last July after the team was selected.
She said the start of the danceline season begins with auditions. Each girl trying out is taught two short routines, some required technical skills and a short on-the-spot choreography. A panel of experienced and unbiased judges then have the hard task of making the selections based on the girls’ performance as well as one more important factor.
“A great smile and stage presence seals the deal,” Gessler said.
Once the team is together, the practice begins. They start with a three-day camp where they learn six dances as well as sideline and pep dances. Then they work together as a team for two-and-a-half hours each and every week through the end of basketball season. They have to practice on their own at home on top of the team time in order to perfect their skills and retain the routines.
“Extra practices are added as needed and naturally for competition,” Gessler said.
After a summer of practice, they put their talents to work at home football games. They do two quarters on the field cheering on the team, two quarters in the stands supporting the cheerleaders and some extra time with the band to get the spirit rolling.
It is basketball season that really puts the Cadets in the spotlight. They perform at halftime of every Fitch home game. They also do a few extra events. This season they danced at a YSU halftime game and participated in Hoops for Healing and Volley for a Cure events.
According to Gessler, the girls always do one or two competitions each year as well. This year they only competed in the one, but their dedication and expertise on the dance floor easily earned them first place among other schools and dance academies.
For Gessler, the pride is tremendous. She has more of a tie to the danceline than most realized. She was actually a member of it from 1980 to 1982. Gessler is presently in her fourth year as an advisor and she loves working with such a determined group of performers.
As for graduation and what the girls do into their college years, Gessler said to the best of her knowledge, none of the girls have joined any of their college teams.
“Their skills have been very helpful with other college activities, especially sorority events like Greek Sing,” she said. “Several do continue to teach at area studios.”
Gessler contributes the Fitch Falcon Cadets’ success to excellent teamwork, dedication, hard work and great choreography.
“The winning routine this year was choreographed by Lisa Luchey, Sam Siman and JoEllen Mrofchak, who also do choreography for us as well as the senior members each year,” Gessler said.
The Austintown Fitch Falcon cadet danceline earned gold at the VIP Dance competition earlier this month as well as receiving regional and division honors. Pictured here with their gold medals are, sitting in front, captains: Brittany Clegg, Olivia Gessler and Kayla Hoover. Kneeling in center are Nina Droege and Lindsey Green. Standing are Alexis Benyo, Gabriella Gessler, Christina Stelle, Naudya Bankston and Kirstie Feorene.