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Dance team grooves at sporting events

Nov. 16, 2005

by BROOKE BRANAM, reporter

With several new members this year, the Baylor Songleaders are shimmying to success.

Their performances at basketball, football and baseball games have given the women great opportunities to showcase their talent.

"The dance team has improved a lot since last year. We've got a lot of new members," said Ryan Panasik, a Dallas sophomore and dance team member.

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Jamie Westmoreland | Lariat staff
Members of the Baylor Songleaders practice Tuesday afternoon at Rena Marrs McLean Gymnasium.
Halftime shows and timeouts have become the team's focus since performing at Baylor's Homecoming and bonfire.

The team has also performed at Baylor's relatively new event, the Bear Growl. This gave it another chance to show off one of its 15 hip-hop and stylized-jazz routines.

"The Songleaders really give me a sense of Baylor pride that I wouldn't have otherwise. Plus, their outfits are really cute," Arlington senior Julia Martin said.

Each of the team's routines have combinations of four or five counts that are created by the captain and other women on the team.

The women pick the music and spend hours "going where the music moves us," Deer Park senior Meaghan Wheeler said.

"In the coming years, the team members will be split into pairs to choreograph songs. We're lucky to have had a lot of skilled choreographers in the past that we have learned from. This will give all the girls a chance to create dances," Wheeler said.

But the team isn't all song and dance.

"Part of the reason I came to Baylor was to be on the dance team. I knew they were good, and that it would be a lot of fun," Panasik said.

"The team gets along really well, and have all become close friends."

Open Songleader auditions are Dec. 3. They will involve learning the fight song as well as a routine.

The daylong process will end with the women performing what they have learned for outside judges.

"We try to keep it as unbiased as possible," Wheeler said. "There are standard skills that judges will look for, but girls won't be judged on how long they have been dancing. They'll be judged on their capabilities and their potential."

The Songleaders have a varsity squad as well as a white squad. The white squad is for freshmen who audition while in high school. This gives women with potential a chance to hone their skills with the varsity squad.

"We have a really amazing group of motivated girls who are dedicated to helping the group grow," Wheeler said. "They're putting a lot of effort into recruitment this year hoping the group will grow to better even better than they are now."