The spotlight of New York can prove too hot for some, but beckons others into the aura of the city that never sleeps. Rookie Flight Crew member DinaMarie, Gameday Girl for the Jets-Chiefs game on Sunday, needed to perform, and she wanted the biggest stage possible.
"I came to a game last year and sat up in the 300s," she said. "I was looking at the field, and it just hit me that dance was my true passion. Something clicked in me and I knew I had to give it another shot."
After trying out and reaching the final round of Flight Crew auditions in 2008, DinaMarie did not make the team. Her revelation during a game last November pushed her to give it another try. This time around, everything worked out.
"If I was going for it, I was going to give it 150 percent," she said. "At least then I could walk away from it knowing I gave it everything I had."
She began dancing at the age of 4 in Brooklyn. After moving to Staten Island as a 9-year-old, she continued her dance classes until she turned 13. As an undergraduate at Iona College, she joined the school's dance team, performing for small crowds at home basketball games.
DinaMarie was not terribly outgoing as a child.
"I used to be really shy," she said. "I was that little girl who didn't want to walk away from her mom. When I was growing up, I would always be told to have more showmanship. It's kind of funny now that I'm on this team performing for all these people."
She was able to taste the big stage while dancing at an Iona basketball game last season at Madison Square Garden. Still, nothing quite compares to performing in front of Jets Nation.
"Leading up to that first game, I tried to imagine being in front of 82,000 people," she said. "I had never even danced for 2,000 people before. It was definitely nerve-wracking and intimidating."
As a child, DinaMarie spent most of her spare time at her studio, Reflections in Dance. With her home around the corner and her father's pizzeria across the street, dance became a true neighborhood affair.
"There were eight or nine of us in my class," she recalled. "I lived at that dance studio. I was there probably six days a week. Towards the time I was going into high school, my interests started to drift a little bit."
She left her studio before entering high school but continued to pursue dance as a hobby. She took dance classes instead of the traditional physical education courses at her high school and performed in school showcases.
DinaMarie parlayed her interest in performing into a four-year stint with the Iona dance team, earning the title of captain in her senior year.
"As captain, I brought our team to competition for the first time," she said. "It was exciting because when I started, we had only been dancing at basketball games."
Competition and performance have driven DinaMarie throughout her life. Although she has taken an occasional hiatus from her passion of dance, she always returns, seeking a challenge greater than the one she had previously tackled.
"There's nothing I can say to anyone except the girls who are right next to me while I'm dancing that would give any idea how we feel when we're walking onto the field," she said. "That's when I stop and look around, and I feel so grateful for where I'm at."