Illinettes Dance Team holding tryouts April 2

By Ryan Wilson

As a 3-year-old, Jaclyn Montagano remembers watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

And nearly 20 years later, she was on the other side of the television screen, marching down the streets of New York City behind the floats, balloons and bands with the Illinettes dance team.

“It was amazing,” Montagano, a junior at Illinois MG, said. “To be able to perform in something I was watching growing up as a kid is just unreal.”

Four months after the parade, the Illinettes Dance Team, which two years ago merged with the Illini Dance Team, has wiped its slate clean for its annual tryouts on April 2 MG. Each returning member is required to try out again for the team in front a panel of former Illinettes, called “Alumnettes”, Illini Marching band director Barry Houser MGand dancers who are not affiliated with the team.

The tryouts consist of two rounds of dance routines. The first consists of a one-minute individual routine across the floor. Senior co-captain Hanna Handler MGsaid the round is an opportunity to highlight prospective members’ strengths and weaknesses.

“Basically, (the first round) is showing what they can do, and what they’ve got,” Handler said.

The women will gather in groups for the second round and learn routines, including pom, jazz and hip hop from the captains of the Illinettes Dance Team. Prospective members will also learn marching skills — the team marches and practices with the Marching Illini.

Handler said she expects 60-70 girls to try out this year after a strong marketing push on the team’s website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Members of the Illinettes also attended the Illinois High School State dance competition to speak with high school girls about the team.

“We have so many amazing students just on this campus that are extremely bright and intelligent,” Houser said. “We would take all of them if we could in terms of talent. But the talent level is so deep, it really gets difficult.”

The team, as it has since the 1970s, will select 28 women MG. Even though Handler is graduating, she is helping ease the stress of the freshmen who want to join next year’s team.

Handler recommends the prospective members hit all their turns and leaps, and register for the audition by going to the Illinettes website.

“They’re like, ‘I’m so much more nervous for tryouts this year,’ because they know they could potentially lose this,” Handler said. “I told them how going through auditions as a returning member is so nice, because everyone’s there together. You’re all auditioning again, so it’s a good support system.”

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