Crimson Cabaret jazzes up halftime at Coleman Coliseum


Emily Williams

The Crimsonettes are famous for performing during the Alabama football halftime show, but with the start of basketball season, a different set of dancers is taking center court. The Crimson Cabaret serves as The University of Alabama’s dance team that performs at Alabama men’s and women’s home basketball games, during timeouts, at halftime, and before and after the games.

Assembling the team each year is a competitive process, and this year was no exception. More than 80 girls from 22 states attended tryouts in April, with 16 girls making the final cut.

While the Crimson Cabaret in its current form was established in 2004, dance teams of various sorts have existed at Alabama since the early 1970s, coach Marion Powell said. Powell is also the coach of the Crimsonettes but said the routines and skill sets of the two groups are completely different.

“The Crimson Cabaret are very skilled dancers, and they don’t twirl at all,” Powell said. “Their routines are primarily based on dance technique, jazz, hip-hop, different styles of dance. With the Crimsonettes, because that’s a halftime show that also includes the band, it’s a whole different type of performance. They do some dancing but because they twirl, that’s their primary skill. With Crimson Cabaret, dance is their primary skill.”

Shelby Lawrence, a junior on the team, said in addition to the different routines, the atmosphere differs between football and basketball games.

“It’s a more personal environment, instead of just seeing all these people far away, you kind of get to know people on a personal level,” Lawrence said. “There are certain people that have season tickets and they sit certain places and you start to recognize people throughout the season.”

Being a member of the Crimson Cabaret is a time-consuming commitment that lasts most of the year. The team began rehearsing dances for this season in June and had camp in July.

Members practice three nights a week, from 6-9 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Sunday nights. Practice usually consists of an hour of warm-up and stretching before the women practice their dances for the games. They also attend team workouts at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

The Crimson Cabaret shares the floor with the cheerleaders during games, and the two teams work together to engage the audience. Additionally, not all of the dancers for Crimson Cabaret are dance majors. Some of the students participated in competitive dance or cheerleading in high school.

“[Crimson Cabaret and cheerleading] are similar in the fact that we do the same things to get the crowd pumped up and cheer on our teams, but the movements, everything’s so much more technical and obviously more difficult. It’s just a lot more fluid. It’s a very different style from cheerleading,” Hart Hoeffner, a senior on the team, said.

Long after much of the student body has gone home for Christmas break, the Crimson Cabaret will continue practicing and performing until the last home basketball game on Dec. 21.

In addition to practicing routines for the games, the team is also preparing to compete in the Universal Dance Association College Nationals in Orlando, Fla. this coming January. It will compete against 20 – 30 other Division 1A college dance teams in the categories of “jazz” and “pom.”

“We like to compete, but that’s a one-day venture in January,” Powell said. “That’s a small part of what we really are here to accomplish and what our goal is. One goal is to represent The University of Alabama, be good ambassadors and really make people feel welcome when they come here for a game, and to get them to cheer and really support the team.”