The sequins and red boots stand out from the top level of TDECU stadium. The official dance team of the University of Houston, the Cougar Dolls, dedicate hours of time to physically and mentally train in addition to a full course load to serve as ambassadors to the University of Houston. Earning the uniform takes two full days of hard work to prove these girls have what it takes to keep a crowd alive at football games and basketball games alike. Below is a glimpse of the audition process.
Auditions are held in May, meaning the majority of dancers auditioning are doing so while still attending high school. Day one begins with auditioning dancers completing an application. Everything from GPA to academic and dance achievements are included to give the judges an idea of a dancer’s qualifications. Becoming a Doll requires a strong academic background, as dancers are required to maintain a specific GPA in order to participate in games and events.
Dancers are judged on a wide range of technical skills including kicks, turns, splits, leaps and more, which are incorporated into dances throughout the year. Separate pom and a combination of hip hop and jazz routines are typically taught to show diversity in dance style. New dancers are often auditioned with both other new dancers and returning Dolls to see how awareness changes and if their style adapts to experienced Dolls. Call backs are often requested to test stamina and see if a dancer is ready to perform, even unexpectedly with little notice.
One of the most important elements of auditions is the interview process. Potential Dolls are asked a series of questions by all judges to evaluate a dancer’s priorities and dedication to academics and a demanding practice schedule. A second day asks a portion of the dancers back to perform all skills and dances learned before the final team is selected.
This is just a glimpse into the making of the Cougars who perform at games, volunteer at community service events and represent the University of Houston year-round. To keep up with the Dolls, like them on Facebook and Twitter.