Revels role-reversal has freshman kicking high

Staff Writer

It’s surreal to think that a year ago I was sitting in the audience in Dodson Auditorium, giddy as a school girl, counting down the minutes until Rangerette Revels 2012 began.

I had only been to one Revels before, my freshman year, and it was like nothing I had ever seen. Being from a small town and from a small drill team, Revels was Broadway to my Vaudeville. I remember how awe-inspired I was by the young women on stage. They were only a year or two older than I was and yet they seemed to dance with a maturity of being much older than that.

I was introduced to the organization when I was in the seventh grade, when my middle school drill team director told us the history behind drill team. That next summer I attended my first mini-camp and saw the Rangerettes perform for the first time. I was instantly enamored. From that point on I told everyone, “I’m going to be a Rangerette.”

My dance career continued into high school where I was captain of my team for three years. My Rangerette dream was pushed to the back burner at  the beginning of my senior year. I sustained a serious back injury that kept me off the dance floor for months. After three months of physical therapy I was told I might never be able to dance again, at least not at the caliber that it took to be a Rangerette. But I was determined to see my dream become a reality. And that’s just what I did.

In April 2012, I was released from therapy with an OK to dance. I trained for weeks. I set up motivational signs all over my house: “You will be on Line 73,” “Red, white and blue bound,” “Have you kicked today?” I spent my summer at my high school perfecting my solo and working kick technique, and when pre-training week at arrived, I realized there was no way I could have prepared myself for the tryout process.

That week was one of the hardest      but most rewarding weeks of my life. I didn’t watch a single solo. I didn’t watch any girl on model night. I looked away during all the markings. I put myself in a bubble for the entire week. When the sign dropped, I saw my number and thought, “I was number two… number two is on the sign…,” and then it hit me. I had made it! I became the first person from my hometown of Huntington to become a Rangerette.

My life changed forever that day. I gained the friendships I had always felt I lacked in high school. I gained a support system. I have been taught how to learn by example and to observe my surroundings. I have learned how to be a lady, how to manage my time and how to be accountable for not only myself but my classmates as well.

The rules we follow are difficult, but as time has passed I have learned that each and every rule has been put into place for a reason that still applies today just as much as it did when they first went into effect. It takes all of those things and more to make being a Rangerette mean what it does.

Football season consisted of grueling heat, tedious practices and a successful winning streak by the Rangers. I kicked finale in the second annual “Christmas Extravaganza” and traveled to Washington, D.C., to dance at the Texas State Society Black Tie and Boots Ball. And then all of a sudden, it was Revels season. Where had the time gone? Just yesterday I had seen my number on that sign.

And now it’s Revels season, full of long practices and more difficult dancing than I have ever done. Sitting in the audience last year, there is no way I could have possibly known the time and the dedication that goes into a production like Revels. Each routine is meticulously polished and performed over and over again until it is exactly the way it should be – not to mention the huge props that have had to be hand painted or built or contact papered.

The entire show is like a well-oiled machine of perfectly timed entrances and quick and quiet set changes. But I know what the ending effect looks like and I’m proud to put in the hours I have to make it happen.

The red, white and blue uniform hanging in my closet continues to catch my breath each time I see it. Knowing that I am one of the few and the proud, that I am one of the lucky ones, that I was chosen to be a part of such a rich history, and to know that uniform is mine forever makes all of the memories I have made, the tears I have shed, the hours I have put in and the laughter I have shared worth every minute of it.

Dezirae Burnett is a freshman communications major from Huntington.