DALLAS — The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team is a reality television series that premiered in 2006 on Country Music Television.
Surprisingly, Makenzie Alexis Flake began tuning in to the show in its second season.
Nevermind that she was only seven years of age at the time.
Yes, as strangely as it seemed in this, the modern technology era, CMT managed to grasp the attention little Makenzie, something about which her mother, Sherita Flake, welcomed wholeheartedly.
“When Makenzie was seven, she would watch the “Making of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders” for hours and she was obsessed with becoming a dancer,” Sherita Flake told MemphiSport during a recent interview. “She would always tell us she was going to become a professional dancer.”
Now at 14 years of age, Makenzie Flake has gone to great lengths to ensure she navigates resiliently after her dreams, much like the professional dancers for America’s Team.
Having trained what her mother described as “heavily” a few months removed from having first witnessed the behind-the-scenes events surrounding the famous Cowboy cheerleaders, Makenzie’s parents signed her up for regular dance lessons at the now-defunct House of Talent, all while her older sister, Taylor, took part in ballet lessons. Prior to her family’s move to Virginia, she trained intensely at Teran Gary’s SubRoy Studios in Memphis.
Consequently, her passion and enthusiasm for dancing gave way to her earning a spot on the NBA’s Junior Grizzlies Dance Team.
Fortunately for Makenzie, whose family recently relocated from Tennessee to Virginia, the more acclimated she had become with dancing, the more her parents devised ways to enhance her newfound craft as a way to enable her to find her niche.
Boy did she ever.
“We are very supportive and see how she enjoys dance,” Sherita Flake said. “We were surprised at the many facets that dance offers. Dance is just as demanding as an athletic sport. It takes training, dedication, and hard work. We are just amazed at the gift that she has because neither of her parents can dance or move the ways she does.
“Well…her father thinks he could (dance), so now he thinks she has her moves from him,” Sherita joking continued. “We also look at her with satisfaction.”
Today, Makenzie has flourished into an awarding-winning dancer with a resume that will undoubtedly continue to expand in years to come. Among Makenzie’s accolades are: The PULSE Atlanta – Solo Awarded “Most Swagged Out Routine,” Hollywood Dance Jamz – Highest Score Overall Solo; Solo – 1st Place in Teens; Convention Scholarship; Debbie Reynolds Studio Scholarship, Recipient of Future Star Award Monsters of Hip Hop – Intermediate Convention Scholarship; Advanced Convention Scholarship; Alvin Ailey Performing Arts Scholarship, and the USA Gymnastics Tumbling and Trampoline – Tennessee State Champion.
And, just last week, she made the dance audition at the Washington, D.C.-area Capitol Movement (or CMI), which provides programs and opportunities for all, despite socioeconomic barriers, by offering traveling classrooms for schools and community partners in need of arts education programming.
In addition, this longstanding organization assist young people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds via dance scholarship programs as well as training at our summer camp intensives, annual conventions, and outreach classes. Capitol Movement strives to make it possible for all residents of the DC Metropolitan area to participate in and patronize the arts.
What’s so astounding about Makenzie’s rise as a thriving dancer — one who boasts lofty aspirations of performing on a stage similar to that the Cowboys cheerleaders — is that she’s persevering toward her lifelong ambition while simultaneously battling arguably the grandest obstacle of her young life.
For years, Makenzie has battled Von Willebrand’s Disease, which is the most common hereditary coagulation abnormality described in humans, although it can also be acquired as a result of other medical conditions. According the www.mayoclinic.org, it arises from a qualitative or quantitative deficiency of von Willebrand factor (or vWF), a multimeric protein that is required for platelet adhesion.
Also, there are three forms of vWD: hereditary, acquired, and pseudo or platelet type, as well as three types of hereditary vWD: vWD Type I, vWD Type II, and vWD Type III.
Named after Erik Adolf von Willebrand, a Finnish physician who first described the disease in 1926, Type I is the most common type of the disorder and those that have it are typically asymptomatic or may experience mild symptoms such as nosebleeds although there may be severe symptoms in some cases.
As it relates to the causes and affects surrounding the disease, Sherita Flake said, “She wanted to be a cheerleader, but it was hard finding a team that would take her and only let her tumble. She was only allowed to tumble due to the bleeding disorder. Then we tried her in other sports, but as she got older, the types of injuries she was subjected to prevented her from continuing the sport.”
Fortunately for the young, vibrant Makenzie, she ultimately found her first love: Dancing.
“My talents as a dancer are definitely unique and special,” Makenzie said. “I would like casting companies and choreographers to know that I am willing to do whatever it takes to be a professional dancer, singer, an actress, and a triple threat. I have a very strong desire for this career and work hard for what I believe to be my destiny.”
In assessing how her youngest daughter has defied an assortment of odds in recent years, Sherita Flake and her husband, Derek, are grateful that Makenzie never used her physical challenges as a deterrent to fulfilling her dream, one that was birth, thanks in large part to Country Music Television.
“When she found dance and was good at it, we were over joyed,” Sherita said. “So we look at her with amazement because she never gave up despite her minor disability until she found something she could do without any restrictions.”
What a difference sitting for countless hours in front of Country Music Television has made.
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Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to email@example.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.