College Dance Team Central

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Syracuse Dance Team Alumni Balance New Lives With Old Passions

By: Brittany Henning
The Daily Orange
10/3/06


Laura Bochner's turning point came when she auditioned at a casting call for a 13-year-old female dancer. Among thousands of other anxious young dancers, she lined up on the giant gym floor. They were not asked to dance but were told simply to stand still while judges dismissed those who didn't have "the look."

The judges decided Bochner did not have what they were looking for. She didn't give up, but Bochner never handled rejection well.

"With typecasting, you can be amazing but you're not going to get a role if you're not what they're looking for," said Bochner, a 2004 alumnus of Syracuse University and former member of the SU Dance Team and the Knicks City Dancers.

Bochner wanted to go to college for professional dancing until her parents suggested a more stable profession. She found, however, that as a dual major in business and communications, she was still able to pursue dance.

Bochner auditioned for the Knicks City Dancers three months after graduation, making it to the final round until getting cut. Determined not to let her passion slip away, she tried out again the following year and made the team.

When she tried out for SUDT, there were more than 100 other girls, but the Knicks City Dancers attracted nearly 500 people. The group was cut down to 50 people for the second day, including former Knicks City Dancers hoping to return for another season.

Both audition days were long, beginning when dancers arrived at 7:30 a.m. and ending around 8 p.m. Bochner's final audition was live on Fox News and judged by online voters at Knicks.com. She waited four long days until they announced she made the team.

Bochner doesn't know for sure how Knicks City Dancers are selected, but said there is no specific typecasting.

"You are who you are, everyone on the team is different, very diverse," she said. "Everyone has her own look."

Alexis Heos, another SUDT 2004 alumnus and current Boston Celtics Dance Team member, began dance and gymnastics at the age of 3. Despite a shoulder surgery at age 5, she competed in regional and national competitions for about 13 years. Heos was a backup dancer for 98 Degrees and Joey McIntyre for Kiss 108 FM's summer concert until joining SUDT.

The Boston Celtics Dance Team auditions were held in five cities, attracting about 600 women.

"At Syracuse everyone is in school and around the same age and essentially in the same place in their lives," Heos said. "Now, the ages range from 18 to 28, some are still in school, some are working professionals and others are married."

Bochner was a member of the Knicks City Dancers for a year while working a full-time job at media buying firm, Horizon Media, which allowed her to leave work early for games. She said it was tough to manage two jobs, but many of the team members do it.

Bochner is now the assistant coach of the Knicks City Kids and working full time at Horizon Media. She said coaching 6- to 13-year-olds is different, but a good experience.

"Kids can be all over the place," she said. "Sometimes it's hard to keep them focused. It's amazing what these kids can do."

Heos is currently in her second year of earning a master's degree in public policy, taking classes part time. She is also managing a full-time job with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Division of Banks. She anticipates taking an extra semester for the masters program to manage her time next semester with two classes and a thesis to finish.

"I'm going to kill myself to get through finals this semester," she said. "But it's worth it. I love being back in school and the dance team is one of those lifetime opportunities that you just have to seize when it comes along."

Heos said if she is selected to join the Boston Celtics Dance Team again next year, it will probably be her last year because of nagging injuries that may need surgery or rest. After that she would like to go back to coaching gymnastics and teaching dance classes in addition to her full-time career.

"Basically, I'm exhausted; I'm sore," Heos said. "I'm being pulled in eight different directions at once and I wouldn't change a thing."

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