The Cougarettes will perform during the halftime show at the Connecticut game with a group of special-needs dancers from around Utah Valley on Friday night.
BYU marching band director Fred McInnis approached the Cougarettes over the summer with the idea to do the halftime show with special-needs kids. The Cougarettes perform various service activities throughout the year as part of their involvement in the program.
Cougarettes coach Jodi Maxfield coordinated with dance captains Erika Cox and Kayla Bagshaw to choreograph a routine for both the Cougarettes and the special-needs dancers. They recorded the routine and sent the video to all the dancers to learn on their own before coming together to rehearse.
The Cougarettes are a 15-time national champion collegiate dance team. Working with special-needs kids of various ages provided a new and exciting challenge for the team.
“I think we’ve all had experience working with special-needs dancers,” Maxfield said. “We just kind of knew we had to scale it down and do something fun for them.”
Maxfield wants the focus to be on these dancers and them having a fun time performing in such an energetic venue.
“Cougarettes are so focused on being really clean and together and precise, but that’s not what this is about,” Maxfield said. “This is about letting these sweet, beautiful young people come and have this experience of performing.”
Cox and Bagshaw had to work with a lot of external factors for this performance they aren’t used to. Typically the Cougarettes dance by themselves with a track playing. For this halftime show they’ve coordinated with the color guard and the band will play the music for their performance.
“We decided what would look best in a big setting like the stadium” Bagshaw said. “And as far as the band goes, we definitely had to play off their timing.”
Choreographing with so many different elements at play was a big challenge, but the hardest part was not having rehearsal with the special-needs dancers until the day before the performance.
“The biggest challenge was we didn’t have them with us so we made it up without them there,” Cox said. “But when we choreographed it we focused on what would be fun for them.”
Cox could feel the energy and excitement from the rest of the Cougarettes about performing with the special-needs dancers.
“Honestly we are so excited to work with the special-needs kids,” Cox said. “It is something so different from what we do everyday that honestly I’ve heard a ton of the girls be so excited about that.”
Bagshaw was excited to be able to perform at a football halftime show for the first time in four years.
“We don’t get the opportunity to perform at halftime very often,” Bagshaw said. “Even though it is with more people involved it’s going to be fun to do something and see the Cougarettes out on the field at halftime.”