North Texas Daily

Cancer survivor, mentor shapes lives of North Texas Dancers

Cancer survivor, mentor shapes lives of North Texas Dancers

March 20
22:32 2013

Audra Stamp / Staff Writer

Whether she was dancing for the North Texas State University Song Leaders or cheering as a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, dance has always been Jennifer Cloutier’s passion.

But in 2004, she had to put her career on hold when she was hit with devastating news.

Nine years ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer and it had spread so vastly that she decided to undergo a double mastectomy. She avoided chemo radiation because she wanted to have the cancer removed as soon as possible. She then had reconstructive work done, and after four surgeries she was completely cancer-free.

She remembers how supportive her dancers were for her during that tough time.

“While I was in the hospital they brought me flowers and food – they were great,” Cloutier said. “Since I couldn’t drive, one dance mom would come from Plano to pick me up just for practice.”

They were strong for her so she could continue doing what she did so well: dance.

Cloutier came to UNT in 1986 and has never left. She became the North Texas Dancers director and choreographer as a senior at UNT and still holds the position today, dedicating the past 24 years to the university.

“It’s something I was born to be passionate about,” Cloutier said. “I love every aspect of dance. What I’m really the most proud of is the relationships that I continue to have with my girls.”

Cloutier enrolled in her first dance class when she was 5 years old and continued through grade school. Then, at 16 she had to audition for the Kansas City Chiefettes in Kansas City, Mo.

Cloutier lied on her application saying she was 18, and her dance expertise still got her on the team. Even after coming clean about her age, the dance director wanted her talent on the team.

“Some of the Chiefettes that were older than me would try to do my makeup different or try to make me look older so I’d fit in a little bit better,” Cloutier said.

She came to UNT and cheered as a member of the NTSU Song Leaders – the name of the team in 1986 – for two years, but took her junior year off. She was then asked to be the choreographer and director for the team during her senior year.

Cloutier has an extensive resume as a former Dallas Mavericks Dancer, Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, Dallas Burns Dancer, and has choreographed two of the Miss Texas Teen Pageants.

Cloutier has seen many professional dancing careers take off as well. Holly Squier, an NT Dancer for three years, became part of a professional football dance team. The team name cannot be released.

“To me she’s been a really big influence in my life,” Squier said. “And really helped pave the way to do things in my professional career that I couldn’t have done without her.”

Sophomore NT Dancers captain, Lori Janae Green, has listened to Cloutier’s expertise for leading a team and improving her dance style.

“Looking at her like a coach, she is definitely an inspiration,” Green said. “I like to take pointers from her on the way I should lead the team.”

At 45 years old she is a mother, a cancer survivor, a dancer and forever a UNT dance mentor. She has helped many women improve their dance skills, helped to move their careers forward and has left a lasting impression in many of their minds.

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