Dance coach leads with passion

Dance coach leads with passion

Hurricanettes with coach Tess Guidry (center, top row) at Hard Rock Stadium. Photo: Howard Seelig
By Brittney Bomnin Garcia

Hurricanettes with coach Tess Guidry (center, top row) at Hard Rock Stadium. Photo: Howard Seelig

Dance coach leads with passion

By Brittney Bomnin Garcia
A lifelong performer and sports fan, Tess Guidry, Hurricanettes coach and choreographer, brings years of experience and love of dance to her new role at the University.

An elite team of skilled dancers—the Hurricanettes—gather three times a week for practice on the Coral Gables Campus. Their coach and choreographer Tess Guidry, a former Dallas Cowboys’ cheerleader, leads the group through new dance routines, piecing together the visual movements that pair with the music played by the Frost School of Music Band of the Hour. As the official auxiliary dance unit for the band, the Hurricanettes participate at every home football game, among other events, as one of the many moving parts that come together on game day.

“I’ve been around football and sports my whole life,” said Guidry, a third-generation Louisiana State University graduate—her father and grandfather both played football during their college years. Growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Guidry joined her high school’s dance line at age 14 and continued performing in the college environment as part of LSU’s dance team, considered part of the school’s band. After graduating, she auditioned to cheer for her favorite professional football team and ultimately earned a spot as a Dallas Cowboys’ cheerleader in 2016. “I love the combination of sports and art together,” she said. “It’s so cool, you can continue performing as an adult after graduating—I can't get away from it.” 

While dancing with the Dallas Cowboys, Guidry learned firsthand what it takes to direct a full team and program on a professional level. She credits her Dallas Cowboys’ cheerleader directors with inspiring her to be a dance director—a role where she can share her knowledge and use her experience to help teach and guide others. “It made me really realize I want to continue doing this kind of work,” she added. “I knew I would always teach, but the idea of working with a collegiate dance program like this inspired me.”

After learning about the open position as the dance line coach at the University of Miami, Guidry thought it was a natural fit and the next step in her career. “This is an incredible opportunity to come back and work with a collegiate team that performs with the band while continuing to be around sports and football,” she said. In her role at the University, which she started this college football season, she works closely with Jay Rees, professor of music and director of Athletic Bands at the Frost School of Music; and Douglas McCullough, assistant director of bands, director of marching percussion, and lecturer at the Frost School of Music, who together lead 140 students involved in each performance. 

“There is so much discipline and team ethic that you learn from working with such a large group,” Guidry said. “It's way bigger than just yourself.” To be part of an endeavor of this size, school spirit is a must, according to Guidry. The Frost Band represents the University, and each member—including the Hurricanettes—must embody that school spirit. “I love that this dance team is based in tradition and that it’s focused on dance and art,” she added, noting that the dance line has been part of the band since the 1950s. 

Among the Hurricanettes, the students' majors range from pre-medicine to marine biology and meteorology. But, one thing rings true for all 13 members—dance continues being a strong part of their lives. “You know there's passion behind it if you continue [dancing] at this age while attending school,” Guidry said. “It shows these students want to keep up their craft and continue their education.” 

Whether it’s a huge game at the stadium or a small pep rally, the team and its coach feel grateful and excited to be able to perform live for the ’Canes community. “I feel blessed to be a part of the year of coming back, and every single performance has been a gift,” Guidry declared.