DENVER -- What does a dream look like? For the 60 women at the Pinnacle Performing Arts Complex on Sunday night, April 10, the dream looked like a chance to compete for one of the 26 coveted spots on the 2011 Denver Broncos Cheerleaders.
Sign-bearing onlookers dressed in Broncos gear poured in past two orange and blue balloon columns, taking a seat to cheer for their special someone as each finalist chased the opportunity of a lifetime. Lights circled the room, music pulsed and the sold-out crowd roared as the finalists entered the auditorium and took the stage. The ladies performed the initial routine in two groups of 30, then introduced themselves, giving the audience-and more importantly, the judges-a glimpse of their personality and speaking skills.
By the time the finalists made it to this stage, they had endured the grueling equivalent of hell week. Preliminary auditions, held at INVESCO Field at Mile High on April 3, drew approximately 150 women. Auditions started with a short across-the-floor dance combo performed in groups of three. The judges narrowed the field to 90 candidates; a second round pared the field to 60 finalists.
Once finalists were selected, the work began in earnest. The women were divided into two groups and each was required to attend two nights of workshops. The women were not only evaluated on team dynamics and dance ability, but on how they completed a business interview and worked a photo shoot. Another vital test was demonstrating their command of football knowledge. Though the week was taxing, it provided insight into the talent and dedication required to be a Denver Broncos Cheerleader.
After the cheerleaders introduced themselves, emcee, former Denver Broncos Cheerleader and NFL Network host Michelle Beisner, rallied the crowd. The ladies then took the stage to perform a short routine. The first group started off strong with the set including Jessica, a returning DBC, and Kara, a former member of the USC Trojan Dance force -- both of whom would make the 2011 squad.
Tara, 2010 DBC captain, took the stage with radiant confidence, later sharing, "The audition process was different this year because you know how much you have to lose if you don't make it back. That adds pressure."
As the "stars" performed, cameras snapped and flashed like a meteor shower and the crowd screamed and cheered. After the group performances, the candidates had a chance to catch the attention of the judges via a solo and then the panel of 19 judges including Broncos play-by-play radio announcer, Dave Logan departed to make the final selections.
As the crowd waited in anxious anticipation, Beisner kept the crowd entertained with a children's dance competition and a raffle for Broncos tickets and memorabilia. The crowd also watched a video highlighting "A Day in the Life of a Denver Broncos Cheerleader;" the video helped time pass and served to build momentum to the announcement of the new team. After approximately 40 minutes, Teresa Shear, Director of Cheerleaders and Game Day Entertainment, took the stage and addressed the crowd.
"When I announced the team backstage, there were a lot of tears and smiles," Shear said. "Those who did not make the team are determined to keep practicing and come back next year."
Then after an arduous and emotional week, she announced the names of the 26 lucky women.
"I am thrilled to have another season with the DBC," Tara said. "There are seven new members and all 19 members from last year made it back."
Nick Bailey, attending in support of a friend, checked his picks against the final team announcing, "I only missed five."
When asked what made the finalists stand out, he said, "#32 (Becky) and #50 (Katie) on just dance ability through and through. Others had a presence -- a sparkle -- they can fill a stage all by themselves."
Indeed, each member of the 2011 Denver Broncos Cheerleaders does have sparkle-adding that intangible spark to the Game Day experience and Broncos home field advantage. These women are some of the most talented and well-respected in the NFL with class, professionalism and beauty.
"Next season I am looking forward to a fresh start," Tara said. "We have a new head coach, Mr. John Fox, Mr. John Elway in the front office, and we have an amazing new cheerleading team! I cannot wait for the season to begin!"