Two years ago, when Lynn Bocinsky received an email out of the blue from a talent scout, inviting the Wilmette Junior High School dance team to perform during halftime at a college football bowl game, she nearly didn't take it seriously.
"I didn't respond right away. I thought, 'Oh sure," said Bocinsky, a co-leader of the dance team and a physical education teacher at the school. But sure enough, the request was legit, and the seventh and eighth grade girls found themselves on the 50-yard-line in Memphis, Tenn. for the 2010 Liberty Bowl.
On Dec. 28, a new group of girls will be making an excursion south to perform at a bowl game — this time in Orlando during halftime of the 2012 Russell Athletic Bowl.
The group normally dances to hits such as Toni Basil's "Hey Mickey" or Aretha Franklin's "Respect," and usually at halftimes of seventh and eighth grade boys' and girls' basketball games, Bocinsky said. There are eight basketball teams at the school.
"We have a lot of halftimes," Bocinsky laughed.
This year, they're stepping to an instrumental version of LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem."
"I'm very picky about the music the kids use," Bocinsky said. "It gets more difficult to find something you want seventh and eighth graders to dance to, because of the lyrics."
But it was the team's routine at a DePaul University game that landed them the invitation to the 2010 Liberty Bowl, which resulted in an every-other-year opportunity through WorldStrides Heritage Performance, which provides music and performance opportunities to school groups.
Bocinsky said the team could have chosen to perform at the BCS National Championship Game or at the Orange Bowl, both in Miami, but opted for Orlando. It means they'll also march in the Universal Studios Macy's Day Parade, and have a separate day for exploring theme park.
"I decided because they're younger and they get to do this parade, I thought for junior high kids it's a little more laid back than the BCS Championship bowl or the Orange Bowl," she said. "They're just thrilled that they get to perform in a venue like that, with all those people, and with the parade."
The halftime show's organizers sent Bocinsky and Stephanie Dorsey, the other team leader, a DVD with choreographed dance moves to teach the girls. When they arrive in Orlando, they will audition for a judge who will decide where the team will be positioned on the field, along with other teams from around the country.
Only one of the 24 team members won't be able to come — her parents scheduled a Hawaiian vacation, which would ordinarily be a dream trip, Bocinsky said.
"And she'd rather be going with us," she said.