Reunited and it "Cheers" so Good!
Alumni Cheerleaders is excited to share our first "All in the Cheer Family" story about sisters Melissa and Dana Zdanko!! These beautiful and talented young ladies both share a love of dance and cheering and are members of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta Hawks Cheerleading squads.
When you have a double-take at the tiniest new members of the most prestigious professional dance teams in Atlanta, the first thing you ask these New Yorkers is, "Are ya'll twins?!" Dana, an Atlanta Hawks Cheerleader, and Melissa, an Atlanta Falcons Cheerleader, have been dancing since they were able to walk, and they both danced on to their shared dream of becoming professional cheerleaders in their early 20's. Although they are three years apart, these ladies have danced together in junior high and high school at their home studio in Long Island, New York. This experience gave them an opportunity to dance alongside each other in national competitions, and it permitted them to challenge each other's strengths, for both dancers excel in different styles of dancing. They feed off of each other's energy on the dance floor, and their unique positive attitudes complement one another in their every day lives.
Prior to making the Atlanta Hawks Cheerleaders, Dana worked as a prominent instructor at various dance studios back in New York, winning choreography awards on an annual basis. She also choreographed for a variety of Long Island colleges such as Molloy College, Adelphi University and C.W. Post College. While taking on these many choreographer jobs, she successfully graduated Farmingdale University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management. Dana was also a member of a well-respected group of young ladies called the Diamond Divas Dancers, directed by former 76ers dancer Doris Cano, and performed at events such as Lady Gaga's Philadelphia concert afterparty. Dana's next, but not final step in her dance career ensued when she took a chance at the Atlanta Hawks Cheerleaders auditions. She is beyond thrilled that she was chosen to be a part of such an amazing squad of talented and beautiful young women, and she is working harder than ever to learn routines, participate in photo shoots, charity events and keep in shape before the start of the NBA season. Dana takes pride in being surrounded by talented dancers, and claims that it is what makes her passion what it is today. She truly enjoys teaching, choreographing and most of all, dancing. Dana has big, ongoing dreams for dance, and her confidence in her talent will take her only as far as her feet will let her. Her journey from the Empire State to the Peach state has certainly been eventful, and she has faith in herself and in her pro-cheerleader sister to be successful as their seasons continue.
Melissa has taken quite the journey prior to becoming an Atlanta Falcons Cheerleader. In high school, Melissa was a member and captain of the Kellenberg High School Dance Team for three years, and led her team to championship wins every year. While spending her freshman year at Clemson University, she shifted her dance training from hip-hop, kickline and drill team style of dance to royal ballet, contemporary and Horton modern styles of dance. Melissa is always willing to learn something new, even if it is out of her comfort zone. She decided that her roots and instincts could not be without a team, and she transferred to Kennesaw State University to study English Education and ultimately decided to try out for the dance team. She was a member of the Kennesaw State University Dance Team for two years, and performed at every men's and women's basketball games as well as other athletic events. She also competed nationally with the team in Daytona Beach each year, and owes everything she learned about being a part of a dignified team to Kennesaw State. Melissa has also been a hip-hop and fitness instructor for all ages of students for the past 4 years and she hopes to one day open a dance studio with her sister. Melissa took a leap of faith this year when she tried out for the Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders in a hand-me-down audition outfit. She auditioned without taking any prep classes, without knowing anybody, without perfecting the AFC style, and without knowing how amazing her experience was about to be. All she needed was her confidence and her passion for dance to get to where she is today. Melissa is truly enjoying her rookie year, and she desires to learn something new every day about living her dream as a professional cheerleader. She is looking forward to auditioning for another exciting season, and she is even more thrilled to be rooting for her sister Dana in Philips Arena during basketball season!
Dana and Melissa are humbled by their current endeavors on the Atlanta Hawks Cheerleaders and the Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders, respectively. These New York natives both feel welcome in their new southern home by their supportive teammates, and they are proud to be a part of this exciting city of Atlanta. They will continue to support each other's dreams and encourage one another every step of the way. However, these little ladies owe it all to the one thing that kept the dream alive, a little thing called dance.
Cheers to sisterhood!!