Saluki Shakers Ready to Perform this Fall

SIU+Shaker%2C+Sophia+Winter%2C+along+with+the+other+SIU+shakers+showed+their+support+for+the+Salukis%E2%80%99+Men%E2%80%99s+Basketball+team+in+St.+Louis+on+Friday%2C+Mar.+6%2C+2020+at+the+Enterprise+Center.

Jared Treece | @Bisalo

SIU Shaker, Sophia Winter, along with the other SIU shakers showed their support for the Salukis’ Men’s Basketball team in St. Louis on Friday, Mar. 6, 2020 at the Enterprise Center.

The Saluki Shakers are SIU’s primary dancers who perform during halftimes and timeouts for various men’s and women’s sports As a part of the Saluki Spirit teams, they’re gearing up to perform this fall. Junior dancer Ashley Lyon says the Shakers are an integral part of the university’s sporting events and she has enjoyed every year she’s been a part of the team.

“I feel like it’s given me lots of opportunities over the years to be a part of many different events whether it be football, volleyball, soccer, basketball, really everything,” Lyon said.  

Even for incoming first-year dancers like Chloe Day, it has been an amazing experience. She said she’s made new friends and gets to continue participating in the sport she loves. 

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“I really like being on the team because dance has always been a passion of mine and I get to continue that in college,” Day said. ”We’ve been practicing since June so I’ve made a lot of friends and we’ve had a lot of fun together performing at these events.” 

Junior Serena Williams is in her second year as a Shaker and said her favorite part about being a dancer are the relationships she has built during her time with the team.

“I spend way more time with them than I do anybody else,” Williams said. “A lot of them I have classes with as well.” 

The Salukis practice from around 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on days when they have practice.  They stretch then go over material that they regularly use during timeouts and other breaks in the game. They cap off practice by working on new material. Day said the Shakers come up with new material from their coaches and other leaders on the team.

”We just had a girl learn a dance off of zoom that she came and taught us,” Day said. “The coaches help us learn the traditional stuff, the dances passed down from year to year.” 

Coach Cydnee Totzke said that dance studios like Pro Action Dance, Tribe 99, and NDA give them ideas for the dances. These studios bring in many fresh dances that are at the forefront of the dance field.  

The art of dance is something that requires a lot of perfection and chemistry from all of the dancers. Coach Totzke said that being near-perfect is essential to performing well.

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“What’s really different about our sport is that perfection is expected,” Totzke said. ”Trying to instill that philosophy into the Shakers that it is one dance, one game, always going for that perfect routine.” 

Lyon said that it is very important to practice and do your absolute best in a sport as demanding as dance. 

“Every movement goes with a count, so you really have to practice and know the steps,” Lyon said. “Coach gets after us and reminds us that you can’t ever dance as an individual, and that we have to dance as a team.”

Lyon said it can be hard being perfect on the field, with all of the fans, coaches, and players watching you. She said her relationships with her teammates and coaches makes it easy on the field. 

“Sometimes the crowd can be intimidating at first but when you get out there and start dancing that thought kinda just goes away,” Lyon said. “It’s actually funny cause I’m kind of a shy person, but dancing in front of a crowd has become really fun.” 

Williams said that you can really feel the crowd when she first gets onto the field, but after the initial shock, she doesn’t let it get to her.

“Usually when I feel pressure that’s when I feel like I do the best,” Williams said. 

Day said that making new friends here at SIU on her team has helped her experience at school and while performing. 

“It makes coming to practice really enjoyable,” Day said. “My friends make it a lot more fun because I’m not just there to dance, but also to have fun and good experiences.” 

Sports Reporter Cole Daily can be reached at [email protected]

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