11 People to Watch & Know in 2011 by The Cheerleading Company (Part Two)

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The number two person on our top 11 list is Paige Friedeman. Paige has been involved in the cheer and dance industry for nearly a decade and has worked with some of the premier cheer and dance squads. Choreographers Paige has worked with to name a few are Wade Robson, Dave Scott, Mia Michaels, Tabitha & Napoleon Dumo, and Laurie Ann Gibson. Below she dishes on her experiences and personal journey.

1. How long have you been dancing? Tell us about your experience with dance as a child (Did you always love it? Were you always good?)
I personally have been dancing since age 5. Like many girls, my mom took me to community dance classes as a young child to learn the fundamentals in ballet, tap, jazz and tumbling. I loved learning new ways to use my body and then dressing up in flashy costumes, wearing make-up and performing around the community.

2. What is your favorite style of dance and why?

I really enjoy all styles of dance, but personally love the power and rawness of both hip-hop and contemporary. There is something just rooted in the truth when it comes to these styles that I love, in addition to the expression involved.

3. How did you decide to make dance/coaching a career? Was this a rewarding decision?
Becoming a dance coach and teacher was an easy transition for me. On any team I’ve been involved with from 6th grade and up I always had ideas, suggested choreography and eventually took on leadership positions as co-captain or captain of the team. In college, I noticed there were area all-star gyms and dance studios who didn’t have competitive dance programs and I wanted to help change that… I wanted to make dance just as recognized as a competitive art form. It has been a very rewarding career. I take a lot of pride in knowing that I am helping to pass on my love and passion for dance to others, so that they too can then pass on to their love to the next generation.

4. Is dance a sport in your opinion?

This is always a controversial subject, but to me dance is both an art form and a sport. It is a sport when placed in a competitive arena, just like many other sports… there are teams, rivalries, competitions, winners and losers. The difference with dance is that it is also anchored in creativity and trying to use the body to express ideas and images, this is not always the case with other sports.

5. Can you offer any advice or tips for cheerleaders and dancers that may struggle in picking up choreography?
Some dancers/cheerleaders pick up on choreography easily and others don’t. In most cases it’s just a learned skill. The more you try to learn things properly and quickly, the better at it you will become. Take classes, go to camps and watch videos, all while really focusing and paying attention to what the choreographer is teaching. Also, do not be afraid to ask questions or to ask for help if you simply are not getting or understanding how to do a certain step or portion of your dance. It is the teacher/coach/choreographer’s job to help you and we love to make sure you have it down and look your best.

6. What has been your biggest challenge either as a dancer or as a coach?
I think the biggest challenge is to stay motivated and keep things fresh. I am always thinking of music, new moves and new ways to incorporate music and movement in a way that will impact an audience of judges.

7. Where do you get inspiration from when choreographing?
It can be from anywhere…seeing something on TV or online…. hearing music that inspires me… seeing artwork or an artistic show… a movie…. Honestly anything that gets me thinking in a different way and challenges how I’ve already done something.

8. What is your ultimate dance goal?
I guess my ultimate dance goal would be to help run or fund my own studio or competitive gym specifically for dance. But really, I feel like I am fulfilling my ultimate dance goal of spreading my love and joy of dance with others.

9. Who inspires you in dance (can be deceased dancers as well)? If you can could perform a routine with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I tend to be inspired by any female dancers or entertainers who have made a way for themselves….choreographers or performers who have changed how we look at dance… For instance, Martha Graham (modern dance), also videos by artists such as Janet Jackson, Aaliyah etc. I would have loved to perform with Aaliyah. She was one of my favorite dancers and singers. RIP.

Paige has recently been recruited to begin a competitive dance program run through the Urbana Dance Studio in Urbana, Maryland. If you are interested in contacting Paige or finding out more about this new program check out www.urbanadance.com

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