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Ask the Cougar

At Center Stage

Terrence Holland

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It's hard not to stand out when you're soaring into the sky. It's even harder when you're Terence Holland '09.

As the first and only male Cougarette, Terrance Holland was fully aware that - despite moving perfectly in sync with them - he would never completely blend in with the 21 women on the dance team. And, truth be told, he rather enjoyed the spotlight.

"I know I got a lot more attention out there than the girls do," says the recent graduate, who majored in arts management. "The audience loved us all, but once they see a guy come out there, they get really into it."

That, of course, may also have something to do with Holland's stage presence, his bold tricks and his animated enthusiasm. This self-described "crowd pleaser," however, wasn't always so confident about his audience.

"My first year I was an alternate because we didn't know how the audience would react to a guy being out there," he says. "But the first time I went out there, getting my audience into it was no problem. They loved it."

"Crowds were really energizing," he adds. "It made me happy to see other people enjoying my talent."

When Holland came to the College, he was happy to learn about the dance team. "I guess I thought it would be just like a dance company," the classically trained dancer says. "I went to the auditions, and it was not what I expected at all. It was totally different than anything I had ever done."

It wasn't the techniques or moves that were so different for Holland; it was more the focus on the team's movement, rather than that of the individual.

"In the studio, you can do whatever you want - you're only responsible for yourself," he explains. "With the team, you have to look like one person and move together like one body. It was a little weird at first, but I hung onto it because I loved it."

Indeed, most of the adjustments had been more technical in nature. "We had to figure out the costumes, and how the routines would work with a guy," says Holland. "It was different for me because the moves were designed for girls, so I had to make them my own."

In fact, that's one reason he stood out at the National Dance Alliance (NDA) college camp, where he was named to the 2008 collegiate NDA All-American Dance Team.

"That was great," he says. "It just feels good when someone recognizes how hard you've worked."

After all, sometimes standing out is harder than it looks - even for Holland.