HALAWA (KHNL) - They bring the flavor and spice to University of Hawaii sports. Since 1978, the Rainbow Dancers have been pumping up crowds of fans with their high-energy dance routines on the sidelines and during half-time. Behind the smiles, all 28 women are serious about their craft. They passed a grueling audition just to earn the title of Rainbow Dancer and some hope to make it to the big stage like former member Cara Horibe who advanced to the finals in MTV's America's Best Dance Crew with her group "Fannypacks".
Captain Trina Rydzewski is already making strides in her career. She's been dancing since the age of three and has already performed as back-up dancer to singer and entertainer Mariah Carey. Making sure they have all of the right moves, she says, takes a lot of sweat, dedication and hours of practice. Under the leadership of Marcello Pacleb, the girls put in hours of practice perfecting their choreography.
"We meet three or more times a week on campus to rehearse our routines and perform for a couple of hours during the games on the weekends," said Rydzewski. "We love it. It keeps us in shape and keeps up our technique."
Can I keep up with the Rainbow Dancers? In this edition of Job Swap, I'm stepping into the shoes of Rydzewski who's teaching me a dance routine from the hit broadway musical "Hairspray".
"It's a two-minute routine; a combination of the jitterbug, several lifts with your dance partner and some high kicks," explained Rydzewski. "Just make sure you smile. Thousands will be watching since you'll be performing this with us during the half-time show."
"No pressure. Just have fun," I tell myself. Nonetheless, beads of sweat form and trickle down my face. I quickly become frustrated as I fail to grasp and put together the complicated dance moves. But no matter what, the girls, like a tight-knit family, cheer me on and soon enough, just as the saying goes, practice makes perfect or close to it. Cues from my dance partner Chris DiPrete help me stay on beat and I begin to feel my confidence build. After 45 minutes of practice time, there's no where to go but game-time.
"Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Rainbow Dancers with a special appearance by KHNL News 8's Job Swap girl Stephanie Lum!" said the Aloha Stadium announcer.
The sound of tubas, drums, xylophones and clashing cymbals signal the start of the half-time show. Cheers fill the air as the marching band captivates the crowd with a dazzling formation, followed by the Rainbow Dancers. Chris takes my hand and, ready or not, leads me to the field where we shake our hips and strut our stuff. With adrenaline pumping, heart racing and all worries out the door, fans break out in loud cheers. The Rainbow Dancers are a hit and as a little dancing speck on the field, I think I did pretty good too.