A brand new series launching on SKY 1 this month is THE CHEERLEADERS.
The six part reality series THE CHEERLEADERS lifts the lid on the intriguing world of professional cheerleading in New Zealand. It is filled with both on-field and behind-the-scenes action, drama and emotion.
Auckland-based production company Two Heads are the producers of the show. It follows the creation of the Vodafone sponsored Cheerleaders from cutthroat auditions and grueling training sessions, to the teams first ever match day performance at Mt Smart Stadium.
In the opening episode the tough auditions are overseen by celebrity judges, TV personality and Flava DJ Stacey Morrison (nee Daniels) and Sky TV’s Stephen McIvor. The pair helps team manager Rachel Holley and choreographer Nicola Rodokal identify girls with the dance skills and “X-factor” necessary to make the final squad. But they find it’s not an easy task!
“I have always wanted to pick my own Cheerleading team,” says Stephen McIvor. “But it’s not all fun and games. It’s a competitive business and just being pretty doesn’t cut it. The girls have to know how to shake their bonbons with conviction and those who make the team certainly do.”
“The best thing about this show is the process is genuine,” says Stacey Morrison. “Everyone wants to make the team. The competition is real and the performances are real. So the show is not without trauma. You see how much people want it and some obvious disappointment is hard to avoid.”
The audition is a full-on two day experience in which scores of talented girls are whittled down to just 17. The would-be cheerleaders include models, dancers, performing arts students, teachers and one overseas visitor.
Scottish hopeful Joanna Work who missed her flight home two weeks prior wants to stay in New Zealand and become a professional cheerleader. But first she’ll have to put up with the judges. “I can’t believe it,” she says after her final audition interview. “They made fun of (my accent) the whole time!”
With the auditions over, the work is just beginning. THE CHEERLEADERS camera crew get up close and personal as the girls undergo a rigorous 8-hour-a-week training regime. “We’ve definitely got a great team together,” says choreographer Nicola Rodokal. “But they have a long way to go before their first public performance.”
Later in the series the girls are bombarded with unexpected challenges. In one episode they find themselves on the remote Motutapu Island, in the middle of the Hauraki Gulf, for a grueling three day boot camp. This includes early morning runs, group competitions and daily dance practices. Team building is pushed to the limit as the girls have to share a giant dorm and cook and clean together.
The experience, which pushed them physically and mentally, did wonders for team moral. “The boot camp was a really good opportunity to get to know each other away from practice (sessions) which are normally quite strict,” says team member Tracey Muir. “We got to eat and drink together and the challenges were great for team bonding. It sounds cheesy but we’re no longer made up of little groups, we’re one big team.”
Other series highlights include a special calendar photo shoot. “We got to star in the Vodafone Cheerleaders calendar,” says team member Ryley McGougan. “We got to use props like Puma gear, Vodafone umbrellas and Warriors flags and we came up with our own poses. We had our hair and makeup done. Everyone looked so good!”
Speaking about the final cheerleading squad Stacey Morrison is full of praise. “We ended up with a potpourri of New Zealand women who represent the energy you feel when you’re at a Warriors game,” she says. “They are full of charisma and personality. They’re the kind of people you see performing on the field and you want to get to know them better. Well, now you can, by watching them on THE CHEERLEADERS…”
From the thrills and spills of auditions, until the girls’ opening performance at the Vodafone Warriors v Eels game on 17 March (7.30pm, Live on SKY 1), THE CHEERLEADERS promises to be six weeks of addictive viewing.
THE CHEERLEADERS premieres Thursday 22 March at 7.30pm on SKY 1, and each episode re-airs following the Live Vodafone Warriors broadcast the same week.
Thursdays 7.30pm from 22nd March 2007