Admirals looking for dancing queens
Hang on to your pom poms. This information may excite young women, cause feminists to snort in disgust and strike either hope or terror into the hearts of the parents of cheerleader-wannabes. Read on.
Cheerleader tryouts for the Amsterdam Admirals are always an exciting opportunity for applicants, but this season they promise the chance of a lifetime.
Being a cheerleader is not for couch potatoes. Photo Jasper Ruhe
Since the Admirals introduced professional American football to the Netherlands in 1995, the sport has rapidly gained popularity. The cheerleaders and the game itself make it one of the most entertaining spectacles available. Despite it being American football, the Admirals have never had an American girl on the cheerleading team. American girls or other expats living over here may not know about this opportunity.
There are those who feel that cheerleaders are in the same category as beauty contestants and swimsuit models – exploited for their looks and bodies – and that girls who are paraded as decoration to please men cost women their dignity. They become mere sex objects.
Professor Liedeke Plate of the Centre for Women's Studies at Radboud University in Nijmegen is in this camp.
Noting that candidates are expected to be smart and motivated, she argues: "Yet this can't disguise the plain sexism. It seems to me the emphasis is firmly fixed on looks."
The top cheerleader will earn a trip to the ProDance Camp. Photo Jasper Ruhe
"The Admirals stand out from other cheerleading teams because they’re super-synchronised," Orman says.
Her boast is not unfounded. Anyone who has also seen other cheerleaders perform knows that the Admirals’ girls are to cheerleading what the Rockettes are to show dancing. Because of their impressive entertainment skills, the media has branded the Admirals' cheerleaders as "the hottest dance team in Holland".
She doesn't agree with the eye-candy gibe either. Presenting themselves intelligently during the interviews is one of the criteria for selection on the Admirals' cheerleading team. Many of the applicants are university students. Among those with jobs are a jurist, a real-estate agent and a secretary working for the government.
Ashley is herself a former American cheerleader who performed as a 'Charger Girl' with the San Diego Chargers from 1992-1993. She's been in charge of the Admirals’ Cheerleaders for ten seasons. "Our all-girls dance team is like a big family. Many become best friends for life," she says.
What do mother and father think?
Some parents may have stars in their eyes and gladly support their daughters' dreams while others read about the casting contract and photo shoot for FHM (a Dutch men's magazine) and are on the verge of coronaries. They know about the cult porn film Debbie Does Dallas.
Asked about her views on the pictures and information about the cheerleaders on www.admirals.nl, Plate didn't mince her words. "I can't say this [the website] makes me happy! It's real old-fashioned sexism. Cheerleaders have traditionally functioned as compensation for the homoerotic gaze of the spectator."
Some of the cheerleaders are jurists or real-estate agents. Photo Jasper Ruhe
"Our cheerleaders actually have qualities that the public respect. They don't stroll around, just being beautiful. They give entertainment of the highest possible level to entertain the public in between football plays."
Orman agrees though that cheerleading is a small stepping stone to a show business career.
There is a zero tolerance policy concerning involvement between cheerleaders and players. To support this, separate social events are held with minimal fraternization between players and cheerleaders. Breaking these rules means getting kicked out. Parents of girls under 18 must consent to any photos and get to approve the final results.
The preliminary tryouts will be held on 21 November at Sportcentrum Galgenwaard in Utrecht. Registration is from 9 – 10.30 am and it is possible to sign up the day of the audition.
The minimum age requirement is 16 (as of 1 January 2005) and there is no age limit. Current members range in age from 17-29. Applicants need to be skilled dancers, be fit, have good figures and be willing to commit to a one-year contract.
Seventy girls will be chosen for interviews on November 24. The final selection will be held on November 27, when each chosen participant will perform two dance routines for the jury.
Talented girls who make the cheerleading team can look forward to appearances all over Holland. Besides performing during games, they also get to perform with major Dutch artists. This year's team appeared at a charity event with Gerard Joling and performed during games with Intwine, Def Rhymes, Brain Power and Rene Froger.
The time commitment is demanding, with rehearsals three times a week for a total of nine or ten hours and during the season, up to 16 hours a week, not including participation during the games and promotional appearances throughout the year. Members are paid for their participation in games and certain promotional appearances.
Interested girls who miss the auditions this year can sign up to receive an information package for next year at www.admirals.nl or call 020 465.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Amsterdam Admirals, Life in Holland