Twirling a baton to the rhythm of band music and dressing in a sequined orange-and-green costume is all in a day’s work for Lindsey Finkel.
As UM’s feature twirler, she is the newest addition to halftime performances at Miami’s home football games. Finkel, 20, performs in front of the Band of the Hour alongside the Hurricanettes, which comprises both dancers and color guards.
She had her debut performance during the first home game of the season against Bethune-Cookman on Sept. 15.
“It’s crazy what she can do,” freshman Hurricanette Victoria Boylan said. “Even at practice, I’ll just stop and watch her. I’ll joke around and start to clap for her.”
Before performing with UM, Finkel was a member of the twirling line at Florida Atlantic University.
This semester, she moved to Kendall.
She now attends Miami-Dade College but is also enrolled at UM for the band class that meets three times a week to practice routines.
Finkel choreographs all of her solo routines on her own. Though she mostly twirls by herself, Finkel sometimes dances with the Hurricanettes and is just as talented, according to Hurricanette captain Ally Levy.
“She is one of the best hip-hop dancers on our team, whether she knows it or not,” Levy said.
Practicing with UM
Finkel wanted to continue baton twirling at a new school, and the Band of the Hour was interested in adding a twirler to its ensemble.
“I have held auditions for twirlers over the past few years, but none of them were good enough to put in front of the Band of the Hour,” band director Thomas Keck said. “Lindsey is truly talented.”
Until now, there had not been a twirler during the five years that Keck has been at UM. Melissa Marcus, now a Ph.D. student at UM, was the last twirler to perform at football games. That was seven years ago.
“The deal was, twirlers had to be able to carry the whole band on their own and to really shine, and we’d never been able to find any that were as amazing as Lindsey has been,” Levy said.
Finkel’s journey to Miami began when she emailed schools in and out of the state, looking to start up as a feature twirler somewhere new. UM was her goal, but Finkel didn’t hear back for two months. She was finally invited over the summer to audition live for Keck.
“We contacted Lindsey after watching her videos … because she’s one of the nation’s best twirlers,” Levy said.
Finkel relishes her new role as feature twirler since she comes from a school that had a larger group.
“I have tremendous respect for the difficulty of twirling and think it complements the overall marching band presentation very well,” Keck said.
Finkel wowed the crowd at the first two home games. During the game against Bethune-Cookman, Finkel performed in front of the student section so they could all see the complexity and artistry of what she does, Keck said.
“It was my first time being a feature twirler even though I have a lot of experience,” Finkel said. “It was more nerve-racking, but the minute I stepped on the field, it was exciting. You just get caught up in it. I just zone out and twirl.”
Sophomore Gabriela Wagener enjoyed Finkel’s performance at the first game.
“I thought she was a fabulous addition to the show, and I found her very entertaining,” Wagener said.
At the Canes’ recent game against North Carolina State, Finkel performed alongside Boylan. As the other dancers remained at the front of the field, Finkel and Boylan walked toward the 50-yard line to show off their dance moves, cartwheels and twirling tricks.
“The last show for the last song, I was next to her, and I was so excited,” Boylan said. “She just gives a certain energy that makes you keep going and makes you want to give it your all.”
Almost instantly, Finkel has become a celebrity at games, with fans often asking for photographs.
“Over the weekend when I was twirling, someone yelled out, ‘We love you, twirler girl,’” Finkel said. “And people were asking to take their picture with me. I’m not used to it.”
She even has a Facebook page called “Lindsey Finkel University of Miami Feature Twirler” with more than 250 fans.
Hurricane fans can look forward to more excitement from the Band of the Hour during upcoming football games.
“I’m definitely going to be doing fire,” Finkel said.
Finkel has also mentioned incorporating a routine with simultaneous twirling and salsa dancing, Levy said.
“I think it’s going to really entertain the crowd this year, which is something that we really need,” Levy said. “Lindsey is definitely the biggest part of our crowd entertainment.”