There haven’t announced the rosters yet. There’s still time to get comfortable and enjoy a tremendous energetic show. To promote the interest in hockey, interact with the fans and cheer them up with their smiles and exciting dancing – that’s their job. Today we’re going to talk about the cheerleaders of two Nizhnekamsk teams – Neftekhimik and Reaktor.
Team administrator Yulia Turtygina told us their history.
“Our team was officially founded in 2002 as Neftekhimik cheerleading team,” she says. “It was by the hockey team management, who invited two dancers from Kazan – Flarida and Irina. We’ve seen a lot of people come and go over the course. Mainly the girls were leaving the team to go study in other cities. I’m one of the “grizzled veterans” of the team – I’ve danced for 15 years now. Reaktor is Neftekhimik’s major junior team and we’d never danced at their games before. But this year Neftekhimik management came to us and asked to work with their junior team. The team made the playoffs and, moreover, made the finals – we were honored to perform at their games.”
What Nizhnekamsk cheerleaders think about hockey and physical conditioning we’re going to hear from Alla Bolikh and Katerina Gorusheva. Obviously, they’re not quite as experienced but they feel comfortable talking about energetic dances and shining pompoms. First we asked the girls how did they get into one of the most artistic sports. Obviously, we’re talking about cheerleading.
“I’ve been a cheerleader for two years now,” says Alla. “Having passed my Grade 9 exams, I stumbled across an advertisement that said there were cheerleaders needed. I’d danced for a while at the time and I figured: ‘Hey, why not?’. At first I was performing in-between the stands at the games, then they put me on a little stage and now I dance with all the girls at the main stage.”
“My sister got me into it,” says Katerina. “I used to go to practices with her, trying to learn and remember all the dance moves, which was difficult at first, because you’re timid and feel shy. But I was willing to work and determined, and made the first team. It was an indescribable feeling that I had never felt before. Two years ago – when my sister had already made the cheerleading team – I also got interested in that but I could never imagine that one day I would be part of it. I thought it was out of this world, unusual and exciting. It was something you couldn’t look away from – it was that compelling and beautiful. When you look at it from another side, you have no idea how much work had to be put into that.”
As for such a physical sport as hockey, the cheerleaders weren’t really familiar with.
“Before joining the team, I didn’t know anything about hockey,” says Alla. “I saw my first game when I went out there to dance (laughing). Now I don’t much about it, just the basics that everyone knows – the number of players on the ice and what kind of penalties there are. Obviously, it’s an exciting sport. I like everything active and emotional.”
“Of course, I had know a few things about hockey but I never really paid much attention to it. But when my sister began dancing at the games, I got into it little by little. I was interested in what that sport was all about. During performance all you do is focusing on the moves and mistakes. You try to remember what you’re supposed to do next. But the game itself is an integral part of our performance. When you dance and cheer for your team, it’s gives you a certain drive. It’s an extra motivation to dance because it’s physically impossible to ignore the game.”
Gymnastics, acrobatics, acting, choreography – that’s just a few of the skills that is required of a cheerleading team member. When energetic dancing meets exciting plastic, you get one great-looking show, which is bound to create the right ambience at the arena. We decided to find out what Nizhnekamsk beauties focus on in their work.
“We get together three or four times a week in the evening for a 2-hour practice,” says Alla. “We start with with basic warm-up – everybody works individually. Someone stretches, someone does physical exercises, while someone is working on a new move. We focus mainly on choreography and physical conditioning rather than acting. After that we put in a CD and dance to every track on it – there’s about 40 tracks. There’s more dancing in our show than acrobatics but we try to mix it up. We try to keep the show dynamic, athletic and compelling at the same time.”
“Every team’s efficiency lies in how well they do at practices,” says Katerina. “At practices you try to focus on just about everything – aerobics, stretching and everything else, since it’s going to have immediate effect on the end result, which is going to be seen by the fans in the stands. Performing at hockey games is a result of well-thought-out program, that needs to be followed, remembered and done without mistake. When you’re dancing, you’re indulge in some kind of a positive atmosphere, I guess, because you’re so in the moment and you’re feeling it, and you’re just happy to share it with your girlfriends. When it comes to dancing, every detail matters – every girl is unique and different in her own way; every girl has her own set of skills. She must be not only pleasing to the eye but on the inside as well. Because the fans love to establish contact with us, take pictures and ask questions. You need to be reserved and ethical.”
Last year Nizhnekamsk hosted a very special Junior Hockey League event. Can you guess who cheered for the its participants?
“As you remember, last year Nizhnekamsk hosted Junior Club World Cup and Challenge Cup,” says Yulia. “We worked at those special events as well. It was interesting to see hockey players from teams from all over the world and see what they were capable of. As for the preparation, our goal was to get ready for the World Cup. Since it was held in August, our team didn’t have any vacation time – we were working on a new program – new dances and a special performance for the opening ceremony.”
“The only difficulties we encountered were during the preparation – we needed to practice more often and it’s tougher to do in the summer,” says Alla. “But we had fun at Junior Club World Cup games.”
These days the girls are busy with getting ready to perform at municipal events. Right after those – they’re going to begin their preparation for the upcoming hockey season to once again present the fans with exciting and graceful Nizhnekamsk cheerleading.