Cougarette concert pays homage to alumni

Ari Davis
The Cougarettes perform “Glorious” during their 70th anniversary concert. The team also danced this piece with David Archuleta as a part of the 2015 homecoming festivities. (Ari Davis)

The Covey Center hosted the Cougarettes’ 70th anniversary concert Feb. 17–20.

While the Cougarettes are known for their cheering and dancing, this concert was about more than the stage; it was about honoring the tight-knit family the Cougarettes have created over the majority of the past century.

“We had a private alumni performance and five of the original 1946 Cougarettes were there,” said current Cougarette Shaye Smith, who has been on the team for two years.

Although they hadn’t performed together in five years, Smith said the alumni all came together as if “they were together yesterday.”

The entire show paid tribute to the former team members with the crowning moment being the final “legacy” performance dedicated to Cougarette alumni.

The Cougarettes showcased their versatility with 19 different routines ranging from hard-hitting hip-hop to smooth technical jazz. Cougarette director Jodi Maxfield said the show was “a dance concert for the non-dance enthusiast.”

Self-proclaimed non-dance enthusiast and mechanical engineering major Josh Cannon accompanied his grandmother to the show and was surprised by the skill level displayed.

“I had no idea the dancing abilities the Cougarettes had,” Cannon said. “I always assumed they just cheered, so the concert was really surprising and fun to watch.”

Continuing with the theme of paying homage, two Cougarettes and their alumni mothers performed a number together. Lauralyn Vance Kofford (’84-’86) and Melanie Layton Walker (’89-’92) choreographed and danced with their daughters, Jaylee Gardner and Kayla Bagshaw.

In between each number, short vignettes were shown of each current member of the team in which they introduced themselves, shared memories and congratulated the alumni. Multiple Cougarettes mentioned the honor of being able to represent BYU and share their testimonies through dance.

The concert featured two numbers of a spiritual nature: “Daughters of the Handcart,” which portrayed the pioneers and their sacrifices, and “Glorious.”

Unfortunately, current Cougarette president Lauren Johnston was injured and subsequently unable to perform. Johnston suffered a bone bruise during a dress rehearsal. Although unable to dance, she, too, was honored with the alumni and took a bow with the performers at the end of the night.

Cougarette alumni chair and former team member (’93-’96) Chalice Larsen said the alumni has “big plans” for the upcoming homecoming for Cougar fans to look forward to.

“I’m so grateful for all of the past Cougarettes for making the program what it is today,” Smith said. “These women laid the foundation of this amazing organization; it was an honor to represent them.”

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