College Dance Team Central

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Breaking The Stereotype of Dancers

Feature on former Syracuse Dance Team member Alexis Heos

By David Ertischek
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Roslindale West Roxbury Transcript

Alexis Heos isn’t just about shaking her tail feathers to hip-hop music as a member of the inaugural Boston Celtics dance team. Just like the old adage says — don’t judge a book by its cover, because after a couple of seconds with Heos, you’ll find that stereotyping her as “just a dancer” will make you look like a fool.

Currently the 24-year-old Roslindale resident works for the state in the Division of Banks working on the regulation of banks. The Syracuse graduate, who minored in Mandarin Chinese, is often traveling around Massachusetts going from site to site from bank-to-bank, making sure they’re following banking laws and regulations.

And as Heos points out, “Bankers aren’t the most exciting people.”

But then comes her part-time job as one of 21 Celtics team dancers (don’t call ’em cheerleaders), of which only 15 dance every Celtics home game. Now that’s exciting for Alexis.

Whether it’s strutting out on the basketball court in jeans, short shorts or spandex, Heos has a radiant smile all ready to go with her dance moves.

“I did it in college [on the Syracuse dance team]. It was just one of those things. I wanted to audition,” said Heos, whose last name means sunrise in Greek. Heos was captain of Syracuse’s team her senior year before she moved back to Rozzie, where she grew up and attended the Boston Latin School.

After the Celtics announced they were having auditions, hundreds of women tried out last June. The following month at Foxwoods Casino, the Celtics held a huge public relations affair to announce the members of the team.

“I don’t remember it,” said Heos. “It was a big pageant show. I just wanted to scream and cry. It was just a rush.”

She said she remembers seeing her parents jumping up and down, as well as her 21-year-old brother, Christopher, who was especially happy that his sister was on the Celtics dance team. Alexis said that on her birthday, Christopher gave her a schedule for the Celtics’ upcoming 2006-07 season with all of the games that he wanted to attend. Only two were not circled — the two dates that he had college final exams.

Unfortunately for Christopher, Alexis doesn’t get a whole lot of perks from being a dancer.

“Let’s just say I won’t be quitting my day job anytime soon. However, I’d do it for free. There is nothing like performing in front of my hometown crowd,” said Heos, the only Celtics team dancer who grew up in Boston.

But while Alexis would love to keep on dancing for the Celtics, who knows how long she’s going to be stateside. She’s currently drawing up her thesis for her master’s degree in public policy and international relations at UMass-Boston.

And Heos has big goals on the horizon.
“I would really like to work at an embassy abroad,” she said, particularly in state government or economic affairs.

The beautiful brunette is building quite the foreign language repertoire for future embassy employers. Heos grew up speaking Greek in her home, learned Spanish while attending Boston Latin, learned Mandarin Chinese in college and decided to pick up Farsi, the most widely spoken Persian language, which she said is more difficult to learn than Chinese.

When she’s not working on her Farsi or working at mortgage companies, Heos is putting in three days a week of team dancing. Each practice runs for three hours.

“Usually we are in the gym every day regardless of practice — with the exception of game days, of course. [And] three hours before each game, we set and run through our routines on the court,” said Heos. “It’s one of those part-time/full-time commitment deals. The way I tend to sum the whole experience up when people ask the very general question ‘How is the Celtics thing going?’ is to say, ‘I’m exhausted, I’m sore, I’m busier than ever, and I wouldn’t change a thing’.”

During the practices, the team works on routines to hip-hop, jazz and theatrical songs. The team has a dance choreographer, a welcomed aspect compared to her Syracuse dance team, for which she and other dancers needed to come up with their own routines. As an Orangeman dancer, the team also needed to fund raise so they could attend competitions. On the other side of the spectrum, the Celtics dance team has a public relations handler for press queries.

But when there’s some off time, don’t expect to see any of the dancers around the Celtics players. That’s a definite no-no, which has been implored to the dancers.

“We don’t actually talk to them. At most, we get run into them during practice,” said Heos, adding that she recently got whacked in the face by a Celtic while she was practicing.

But the no-socializing-with-the-players rule is fine by Heos, who has a long-term boyfriend that she met on the frozen tundra of Syracuse University.

And no matter where Heos ends up, whether it’s at some foreign embassy or any other city, she’ll never forget where she came from.

Heos smiles as she talks about growing up in Roslindale and dancing at one of the local studios.

So when she’s in China or in the Persian Gulf helping a foreign dignitary with working out some billion-dollar transaction, Heos will be able to recall when 20,000 Celtics fans screamed for her while she danced to “All That Jazz.”

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