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Anand Subramaniam in Jaipur 05 May 2013 - 04:02pm IST

Behind the cheers and joys

There is a lot more than just the regular ‘fun and dance’

With every boundary; with every six and the fall of a wicket, they dance, they cheer and get a lot of heads turning! Their moves get you to ogle at them, their expressions tinker your naughty brain! But ever given a thought as to what talents, other than cheerleading, do these dancers possess? IPLT20.com managed to have a quick chat, in between games, with a few of them who were willing to talk of their varied interests and the challenges they face while cheerleading.

You will be surprised to know that some of them are teachers back home, fluent in a variety of languages and have a keen fondness to other activities like fitness training and professional dancing.

Teresa Thompson, from South Africa, a part of the Mumbai Indians cheerleading group, is a cheerleader by choice. “I had always dreamt of being a cheerleader,” says a charming Teresa. “I always had a passion to dance since I was a kid and I absolutely love it to be here in India and to perform in front of a packed crowd.”

Teresa has been cheerleading for the last four years, and not just the IPL; she has also taken the stage in front of a capacity crowd at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. “I was one of the cheerleaders in the 2010 FIFA World Cup and have done cheerleading for Pro20-20 tournaments and major rugby tournaments as well. I have been to other places and tournaments over the years and performed and it has been a wonderful experience for me to travel the world and enthrall an audience.”

When asked if it was tough to perform in front of an unknown crowd who are all eyes 24/7, commenting, laughing and at times even ignoring their dance, Teresa says, “Yes, in the beginning it was tough. It took a while to get used to the people and the vibes of the stadium. There are a few flutters just before you enter the ground, but once the music starts and we start dancing, it is fun. I am a very people’s person and I enjoy cheer leading.”

Teresa and her other dance-mates also took pride in cheer-leading for their favorite team in the IPL, the Mumbai Indians. The love for Mumbai and the Wankhede stadium gleamed on her face as she said, “I love Mumbai Indians, not just because it is our home team, but I really dreamt about touring Mumbai when I was a kid. Of all the places we have toured in India we love Mumbai and performing at the Wankhede Stadium is the best. The people of Mumbai are awesome, the food, the culture, the whole vibe of Mumbai is electric.”

How do they keep up energy levels going when Mumbai Indians have an off day on the field?
“It is pretty challenging when the team is losing, but we as cheerleaders do what we can on the dance floor. We sure can keep the energy levels up by doing different moves that the crowd has not seen often. But the real challenge is to get a lot of support from the crowd when MI is playing away from home. There are those days when you still have to try and keep the crowd engaged and cheer at the brighter aspects of that day.”

Apart from being a cheerleader, Teresa is into professional dancing. “I am also a student and I was lucky enough to get time off for the two months to come and do the IPL. I am doing an education degree in South Africa. I am finishing my degree this year, and would like to be a teacher as well. But dancing is my first passion and I would want to continue dancing for as long as I can.”

Teresa also specialises in modern, hip-hop and funk dancing. She teaches dancing and different languages back home and educates herself with different dance forms in her free time.

Her dance-mates Tes and Niqueline too are from South Africa and have taken time off from their schedule to perform in the IPL. While Tes is a student of Psychology and has a passion for books in a library back home, Niqueline is a professional fitness trainer. She believes in keeping her body fit and getting a lot of people in shape in South Africa.

Teresa, Tes and Niqueline are dancers among a plethora of other cheerleaders in the IPL. Who knows there would be so many others we do not know, who are capable of other things than just the regular fun and dance. There sure is a lot more behind the cheers and joys!

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