The Saluki Shakers are taking an initiative to pass on their dance skills to younger girls in the community.
The Shakers will host a dance clinic Sunday at the Recreation Center for girls grades pre-kindergarten through fourth. The Shakers will teach dance routines and techniques to prepare the girls for their first pre-game performance at the men’s basketball game Feb. 8 at the SIU Arena against Missouri State.
Saluki Shakers coach Tawmi Conley said the clinic is a way to gain exposure in southern Illinois and allows the Shakers to give back the community.
“I think it gives more of an opportunity for the children to meet the Shakers, and see what great women they are and have a good time with them,” Conley said. “A lot of (the girls) just see (the Shakers) on the sideline and never get a chance to speak to them.”
Senior Shaker Ashley Watson, one of three team captains, said she’s excited for the clinic and expects fun.
“Sunday, I expect we’ll have a lot of girls,” Watson said. “We’ve distributed fliers throughout the area in grades schools, and we use our Facebook pages to promote, too. We want to impact girls in southern Illinois, and hopefully they’ll want to become dancers when they get older.”
Senior Shaker Lauren Fennessy, also a team captain, said she expects it to be enjoyable and she’s grateful for some time to relax.
“I think this creates a fun atmosphere for us with the girls, and it gives us a break from the basketball games we do,” Fennessy said.
Conley said the Shakers have had creative ideas in the past, but this year will be a theme they’ve never done.
“Each year we have a different theme,” Conley said. “Last year, we did the Justin Bieber theme, and the year before that we did Glee. But this year, the theme is ‘shake’. All the songs will have ‘shake’ in them.”
Conley said each grade will be divided into a group, and all four groups will be taught different dance routines.
“It’s divided into pre-K, kindergarten, and then first and second grades together, and third and fourth grades together,” Conley said. “At the pre-game show, they’ll perform their little routines.”
Conley said the pre-K’s performance will be simplistic and animated, and the older girls will have more challenging choreography.
Besides hanging out with the Shakers, the girls can also get some souvenirs.
Conley said participants can purchase an autographed Saluki Shaker calendar or a t-shirt for the performance and will be given a free ticket to the game.