Each summer the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders host youth camps to teach girls the latest dance moves and routines. But the cheerleaders also use their role as instructors at the DCC Dance Academy to teach character development.
“We don’t only cover dance technique, we also cover topics like confidence and self-esteem and building character,” notes Jinelle, a DCC veteran entering her fourth season. “We try to build up the girls. We have a big focus on being involved in the community and ways they can improve their character. All of us who are instructors are really dedicated. We’re passionate about not only teaching dance, but making a difference in a girl’s life. It’s a special opportunity for us.
“For me, this is one of my favorite things that we do all year. It’s special because I love kids. My background is in primary education, so I want to be with kids at every opportunity. Plus it’s special because all of us who are DCC get to share our biggest passion: dance. We get to be an influence on these girls, and hopefully we inspire them. These girls already look up to you, so the role we get to play for them is to be a life coach.”
Jinelle not only works as a DCC Dance Academy instructor, she’s the person organizing the camps behind-the-scenes. It’s a process that began just as the 2015 football season concluded.
“It makes it more worthwhile when it’s a project you work on from the start of the calendar year in January,” she says. “There’s so much preparation. But it’s worth all the hard work. This is my third year to organize the camps and work behind the scenes to help prepare each event. I get to know the kids a little bit more on a deeper level. Looking back, I wish I could have done something like this when I was a kid, that’s why I want this to be a great experience for them.”
The opportunity to learn dance technique from a current member of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders is what makes the summer camp so unique. Each camper gets one-on-one interaction with a member of America’s Sweethearts.
“That’s something that is special about our Dance Academy, you will be taught by Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders,” explains Jinelle. “Campers will spend all day with us, dancing and talking with us and playing games. It’s a broad experience, exposing them to our world of DCC.”
“We split the girls into three different age groups, ranging from age 6 to 16. We have our mini group, our pre-teen group, and our teen group. Each group has a different focus. All ages will learn a jazz routine and a hip-hop routine. The older girls will learn our signature kick line, so that’s very exciting for them and a cool thing to do. We want to emphasize the ‘fun’ part of dance, but for those campers who have extensive experience, we may try to push them a little more on the things they can do to continue to improve. We want to challenge them. But we do try to keep the groups ‘age appropriate’ so the girls can make friends with other campers of their own age. We want them to inspire each other.
“This is a dance camp, so even though we are cheerleaders, we teach ‘power pom’ which is our style of DCC dance. That’s what we perform the majority of the year at our games, along with our kick line. So it’s really unique version of cheerleading, and that’s what we want to teach our students.”
The camps are held at three different locations. Each provides a unique setting.
“The camps at AT&T Stadium always have high attendance because the campers get to experience the locker room and the field,” says Jinelle. “They get a tour of the stadium. It’s super-exciting for the girls to be at the stadium.
“For the camps here at Valley Ranch, it’s very exciting, too. The girls are dancing in the same studio where we rehearse and hold training camp. They might see Kelli (Finglass, DCC director) or Judy (Trammel, DCC choreographer) walking around, so that’s huge for the girls who watch the television show (CMT’s Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team). And at the middle school in Frisco, it’s a more intimate setting. We take a lot of our decorations to make it a special environment.”
The three-day camps include an opportunity on the final afternoon for the parents/family of each camper to see the results of the campers’ hard work.
“It’s a special final day because the families can come and watch a presentation in which the girls show what they’ve learned in the jazz routine and hip hop routine. All three age levels will also do one dance together with the pom pons. They’ll also get to show the cheer they learned. The older girls will show the kick line. The DCC instructors will also do a mini-showcase of the routines we’ve taught.
Signing up for the camp also provides a unique opportunity to perform on the same field as the DCC during a 2016 Dallas Cowboys preseason game.
“The girls who signed up to be part of the halftime performance at one of the preseason games will perform the routine that we all learned together. Anybody who attends the camp has an opportunity to sign-up to perform at halftime. It costs a little bit extra ($40), but they’ll also get a ticket for themselves and a parent to that game. And they’ll perform what they learned. It’s great because they get the chance to experience what it feels like to be a cheerleader at halftime of a Cowboys game.”
The dates/locations for the 2016 DCC Dance Academy are listed here:
June 8th: Academia de Baile & Porrismo (Spanish language)(ages 6-16) AT&T Stadium
June 10th-12th: Youth Dance Academy (ages 6-16) AT&T Stadium
June 15th-17th: Youth Dance Academy (ages 9-12) Valley Ranch
June 28th-30th: Youth Dance Academy (ages 6-16) AT&T Stadium
July 5th-7th: Youth Dance Academy (ages 6-16) AT&T Stadium
July 11th-13th: Youth Dance Academy (ages 6-16) Benton Middle School (Frisco, TX)
July 20th-22nd: (Youth Dance Academy) (ages 9-12) Valley Ranch
July 26th-28th: (Youth Dance Academy) (ages 6-16) AT&T Stadium
The 3-day summer camps cost $275 ($250 if registered before April 1, 2016). Participation in the halftime show of a Dallas Cowboys Preseason Game is an additional $40.
Camp space is limited, so register as soon as possible.
For more information on the 2016 DCC Dance Academy, as well as answers to Frequently Asked Questions, click here: