January 2, 2013

The Cardinal dance circle tradition

Hi Cardinal fans! Some of you may know about our team’s dance circle tradition before each game. Some of you may even have been lucky enough to catch a peek through the curtain at Maples before we run out to warm up. Or—probably most likely— some of you may have witnessed our crazy dance moves in an exposed tunnel at one of our away games.

As a freshman, I was introduced to this tradition just minutes before I was thrown into the middle of it! Before our first exhibition game against Corban in November, we walked out of the locker room and waited for the last couple of girls to join us before we all ran out on the court. What I didn’t know was that I would have to get over my fear of dancing before I could even start to think about getting nervous for my first college basketball game.

All of a sudden, the team was circled up, clapping, and chanting “Go, go, go Stanford”. I was confused, but I went with it. One after another, each girl was cheered on to enter the circle and perform a dance. I watched as one of our sophomores led the way. Bonnie started us off with a strange bird-like move that was apparently inspired by some physical therapy exercises she had been given to do last year. As my time neared, I could feel the blood rushing to my face. Me? Dancing? What would I possibly do? I’m not sure what got into me as the team cheered my name as an invitation –or more of a command—to enter the circle. I realize now that I must have lost my senses. I forgot about my initial embarrassment and I launched myself into an attempt to do the “Cat Daddy” dance, recently made famous by contemporary hip-hop artists. I think it probably goes without saying that my execution wasn’t great. I looked especially uncoordinated compared to some of the team’s better dancers, like Jasmine (“Jas”), who has a lot more rhythm than I do. In fact, had we played the way I had danced, we probably would have lost that exhibition game. But as the season goes on, I continue to work on my “Cat Daddy” dance in our dance circles before every game.

My most memorable performance was before the Tennessee game when a cameraman appeared right as we began our pre-game tradition. I panicked. “I can’t do the “Cat Daddy” on national television!” But sure enough, I had to do it. After all, it’s a tradition! I was convinced for hours following that the whole world had seen me humiliate myself on television. But I was happy to learn soon after that it hadn’t been aired. At least, not on any program that I knew of…

I learned early on that Chiney, Erica and Jos always bring a lot of energy to the circle, while Mikaela and Taylor bring their usual humor and goofiness. Toni always graces us with a few wild moves, most likely inspired by her involvement in the Stanford Band. However, occasionally, she teams up with Sara (“Sej”) to perform the famous “worm”, which was actually captured on national television before our game in Tennessee. Some of my other teammates are more timid. Kiran, Amber and Alex, for example, have perfected a simple wave, but I have faith that someday they will venture into the circle and show us what they’re made of. Tess started off shy and at a loss of what to do, but she has progressively come out of her shell and is now one of the team’s favorites.

The dance circle—although it may sometimes inspire fear and embarrassment—is an important team ritual. It gives us a chance to regroup before the game, let out any anxiety we might be feeling, and just be ourselves.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks Denia. I look forward to seeing more of you on the court. I enjoy watching you play. Welcome to Stanford!