The Raiderettes answer questions from the prep class participants. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
With the 2011 Raiderette Auditions fast approaching, the Raiderettes held a prep class at the Ira Jinkins Recreational Center in Oakland, Calif. The three-hour class gave participants the opportunity to get a feel for Raiderette choreography and dancing style, and to meet the Raiderette director, choreographers and eight current Raiderettes – Holly, Jonni, Sarah, Mallorie, Tori, Rachel, Natalie and Jessica. Close to 100 "students" took part in the prep class to prepare for the upcoming auditions.
Raiderette choreographer and coordinator Shawna Zimmerman and assistant choreographer Laura Jollay led the stretching and dance portion of the class. The participants experienced how a Raiderette practice starts – extensive stretching and across the floor work. "My hope for the girls today is that they just come in with a positive attitude and learn something new," said Zimmerman. "Even if you're an experienced dancer or you haven't had much dance experience, everyone can gain knowledge by watching the Raiderettes or by learning a new combination or just learning something new about technique."
The prep class was for all skill levels and was an opportunity to meet and learn from the Raiderettes. Collette, a Raiderette hopeful and a dancer since she was three years old, got exactly what she hoped for out of the prep class. "I got exactly what I came here for - to learn a short routine to get used to the Raiderettes choreography and style, to meet the choreographers and director, to meet some Raiderettes, to get some feedback and hear some of their experiences and to learn from them," said Collette.
Marcela, another Raiderette hopeful, attended the prep class to finally follow her dream. "I love to dance, but I don't have as much technical training," said Marcela. "I've been a competitive cheerleader for about 11 years now and I've always kind of been dragged away from dance just because we own a cheer gym. I've kind of put my heart on hold for dance, but this is a new chapter. My New Year's resolution was to follow my heart. That's what I'm going out here with. Just follow your heart, do what is from inside and this kind of feels like it for the first time."
Collette and Marcela both attended the prep class as a way to get acclimated to the Raiderettes' style before attending the preliminary auditions this Sunday. Both hopefuls felt that it was essential to learn directly from the Raiderettes in order to truly understand what being part of Football's Fabulous Females is all about. "It was most helpful to watch the Raiderettes up close because when you're so far you see everything as a whole, but when you're up close you see that everyone is super different, but they perform as a whole," said Marcela. "You don't get that from far away or from photos. When you're here you realize its fun, it's real. It's nice to experience the energy from everyone, especially the Raiderettes."
"It just looks like so much fun and just to hear how much of a difference they make in the community by giving back and being a part of charities, I'm very interested in that," added Collette.
In addition to learning a routine and dancing with the Raiderettes, prep class participants had a chance to ask current Raiderettes questions about their experiences and solicit advice about auditions. "They have the opportunity to do the question and answer session and a lot of girls have questions going into prelims and I think that that really helped them to hear what we had to say and our thoughts and opinions and our personal experiences on the audition process in general," said Raiderette Mallorie.
The current Raiderettes had advice for the hopefuls. "I hope they just get to be themselves," said Raiderette Natalie. "Let their personality shine through. That's all that really matters in preliminaries."
The overall message the eight Raiderettes hoped to send during the prep class and Q&A session was, "be yourself. Be comfortable with yourself. Breathe. Take one day at a time. Be in the moment and be confident in yourself."
Zimmerman echoed those sentiments. "I would tell everybody to come in with a positive attitude and just be themselves," said Zimmerman. "Truly that's all we're looking for is for them to stand out and shine for themselves, not for anyone else, just be themselves."
The Raiderette preliminary auditions are scheduled for this Sunday, April 10, 2011 at the Hilton - Oakland Airport on Hegenberger.