Scenes from Silver Dancer Auditions

Click here to check out scenes from this year’s San Antonio Spurs Silver Dancer auditions on MySanAntonio.com.

2011-12 Dallas Mavericks Dancers roster is announced

By JAY BETSILL
Special to DFW.com
Jul. 30, 2011

With the temperatures in North Texas at a sweltering record pace, the heat was on inside Elevation Fitness for the Dallas Mavericks Dancers Training Camp that was held July 25-28. The gathering was all about who would be a part of the ‘Hottest Dance Team in the NBA’ in its second season under Mavs Dancers Director Mallory Mills.

The Mavs Dancers auditions began Saturday at the Hilton Anatole with over 200 girls arriving to the Coronado Ballroom with dreams of joining the world champions. Sunday brought the final auditions that featured the returning veterans from last season’s amazing squad and the survivors from Saturday’s preliminary tryout. Many of the girls had actually been going full force for the past few weeks as the Mavs Dancers offered prep classes leading up to the big weekend.

The 30 girls who remained from the weekend event simply advanced to the training camp portion of the auditions that took place from Monday through Thursday evening from 7:00 to 9:00. In Mills’ first campaign, there were only five returning veterans which translated to a wide-open competition for a spot on the team. On the heels of the franchise’s first NBA championship and with most of the squad returning to the audition process, the job of selecting the upcoming season’s team was much more difficult. In addition to the solid two hours of practice each evening, the girls went through interviews with Mills and other Mavs front office personnel on why they wanted to be a Dallas Mavericks Dancer and how they would handle the responsibility that comes with the honor.

The 2011-12 Dallas Mavericks Dancers are:
1. Lauren Castillo (veteran)
2. Whitney Foster (veteran)
3. Paige Jones (veteran)
4. Helen McDaniel (veteran)
5. Lauren Gibler (veteran)
6. Rachael Harpe (veteran)
7. Meghan Hodge
8. Chantel Jones
9. Natsuki Kaito (veteran)
10. Shameika Kirklin
11. Savannah McElveen
12. Kenley Menchew (veteran)
13. Sequel Molina (veteran)
14. Emily Morales (veteran)
15. Bonnie Ohlig (veteran)
16. Paige Phillips (veteran)
17. Grace Sells
18. Ashley Wade (veteran)
19. Jenna Zmolik (veteran)
20. Paula Tabares (veteran)

Pigskin princesses prepped, peppy

By Renee Nadeau Algarin
The Boston Herald
July 30, 2011

Three cheers for Patriots fans?

Try 31.

The Patriots’ cheering squad, which upped its ranks from 24 to 31 cheerleaders at its February auditions, has been in full swing for months, director Tracy Sormanti said.

“We have a bigger squad and we have a great goal and commitment to have a bigger impact in the community,” she said.

Sormanti said the pompom tossers, who all either attend school or have jobs outside of their Patriots duties, have met with fans at 200 individual appearances since this year’s squad was formed.

“Through all those appearances during the lockout, the fans were anxious but really patient,” she said. “The fans came back wholeheartedly and we just want to say thank you for that because we have the best fans in the NFL.”

[photo gallery]

Sixers Dancers Finals

Sixers Dancers Finals took place back on July 13th at Chickie's & Pete's

Sixers Dancers Finals took place back on July 13th at Chickie's & Pete's

And unlike other venues that host auditions, there's no stage at Chickie's & Pete's they dance right on the floor.

And unlike other venues that host auditions, there's no stage at Chickie's & Pete's they dance right on the floor.

Fans cheered on their favorites

Fans cheered on their favorites


Continue reading Sixers Dancers Finals

Road to Timberwolves Dancer Auditions (Part 3)

Lauren Lang
Minnesota Timberwolves
July 29, 2011

Timberwolves Dancer hopefuls have been waiting all summer for Monday August 1. For many it’s an opportunity to perform their incredible talent and for others it’s a chance to be one step closer to fulfilling a dream of being a dancer for a professional sports team.

The Timberwolves hosted six Dancer Audition Prep Classes for potential new talent and returning veterans to come in and experience head coach Natalie Alvarado’s style of dance and brush up on their skills. Alvarado couldn’t have been more thrilled with the classes’ turnout, “With our last two classes last weekend we had over 150 prep class participants! This is a new record for the organization and there will be a lot of talent at auditions on the 1st of August.”

Girls showed up to the last two prep classes ready to work and Alvarado put them to the test with a grueling, fast paced hip-hop routine set to M.I.A.’s “Bamboo Banga.” “The girls and I were already sweating within just the second eight-count!” laughed Alvarado. “The routine was hard, fast and called for a lot of hard hitting moves! It was also the longest combo the girls learned so far and I told them that this specific routine was probably the closest in style to the audition routine.”

Throughout the prep classes many fresh new faces walked through the doors and some of the veteran Timberwolves Dancers couldn’t have been more impressed by the mass turnout of new talent. “I am so impressed by how many girls are here consistently,” said Shannon Mlsna, who just finished her rookie year as a Dancer. “As far as I’ve seen there are a lot of awesome girls, a ton of new faces, people from all over the place, which is awesome and everybody seems really excited to be here.”

Mlsna went on to add the importance of attending the offered prep classes, because she attended them last year before making the squad. “It’s really great that there were six classes, because it showed the different variety and styles – it’s not always going to be just one style.”

With the Dancer hopefuls having a better understanding of their potential head coach’s style it was easier for them to come into the last prep class both physically and mentally prepared. “Sunday was our last class and the dance was choreographed to a custom mash up of Rihanna’s “S&M” vocals over LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” beat,” explained Alvarado. “I wanted the girls to dance to a song they were more familiar with, have some fun and release any audition anxiety!”

The participants may have been familiar with the songs the choreography was set to, but some of the dance styles were foreign to them and Alvarado decided to have some fun with it. “We did a little housing footwork and this took the girls out of their comfort zones. It was very fun to watch them release and just go for it!”

[ ] Mlsna along with many of her teammates pushed themselves during prep classes knowing they will have to re-audition and fight for their spot on the team. Recent Orlando, Florida transplant Jessica Blanton made her way to the final four classes. “I missed the first two because I was driving here from Orlando, Florida, just now two weeks ago, so I’ve been to every class that I could go to and they’re so much fun.” Blanton, a former cheerleader for the USL Orlando City Soccer noted that not all leagues are the same. “Every kind of pro team is different. I’ve never danced for an NBA team, so I know that there is a higher demand and there’s always a ton of girls.”

Sunday’s class finished with even more energy than it started with. After the dancers wrapped up the final steps of choreography Alvarado led groups through each of the routines that had been taught throughout the six classes. At the conclusion of each prep class more and more dancers that didn’t initially plan on attending auditions left with a different plan. “It is great to know that majority of the girls who attended prep classes will be auditioning for the 2011-12 Timberwolves Dancers!” exclaimed Alvarado. “They learned everything I could possibly squeeze into these classes: some of the do’s and don’ts of auditioning, how to perform, and most of all, the importance of just going out there and giving it their best!”

Take it from the head coach who has been there first hand after being a member of the Houston Rockets Power Dancers for seven years. Alvarado understands the pressure of heading into auditions, seeing as she had to re-audition each year in Houston. “Bottom line is, they have to remain confident and let their personality shine. Potential goes such a long way! They have to remind themselves how bad they want this and really understand why they want this.”

Prep class attendees hope that all of their hard work and dedication pay off as they head to Timberwolves Dancer Open Auditions on Monday August 1 at the Graves | 601 Hotel. Alvarado dished some last minute advice to those auditioning, “Remember to always smile and when all else fails, ‘freestyle!'”

Timberwolves Dancer Auditions are set to start promptly at 6:00pm. For more information, or if you’re interested in auditioning to be a member of the 2011-12 Timberwolves Dancers check out the Dancer Audition page.

Video: Interview with Bucs Cheerleaders Paige and Maria

Road to Timberwolves Dancer Auditions (Part 2)

Timberwolves Dancers Director, Choreographer and head coach Natalie Alvarado weighed in on the third and fourth Timberwolves Dancer Audition Prep Classes that were held on Friday July 15 and Sunday July 17 at Target Center Life Time Fitness.
Natalie Alvarado
Timberwolves Dancers Director
Minnesota Timberwolves
July 20, 2011

Wow, the audition prep classes are just flying by! We’re having so much fun and I know that the girls are gaining more than they even expected in these classes. This past weekend we held our third and fourth prep classes and again, it felt great to see the returning participants who have been to every class thus far, as well as a few fresh new faces!

Friday: The third class focused on an across the floor, short combo, to Beck’s “Milk & Honey” – this combination called for more of a technical style of dance. The technique was very sexy and advanced, but it also contained a lot of the NBA style of traveling across the floor (the “Beyonce confident power walk) – that’s what I like to call that kind of traveling. This particular short combo gave me a chance to see the dancers who are more comfortable with this type of dance style shine, but it also gave the girls who weren’t very comfortable with it an opportunity to try something new, as well as be challenged a little bit!

Sunday: The fourth class was unique, as I asked our former Timberwolves Dancers captain Gina to come in and teach a sideline routine set to Chemical Brothers “Galaxy Bounce.” Sideline routines are short routines performed with pom poms during the 4th quarter of a game, hot time outs and on the sidelines during 20 second and regular game time outs. These sidelines are quick choreographed routines, which are versatile enough to be performed to any piece of music whether it’s an up-tempo song, an oldie or even NBA basketball classics such as “Mony Mony” and “Shout!” It is very important for me to see the girls who are already strong dancers and performers do the cute, sassy, easy and energetic movements with a set of pom poms! So, it was fun to see some of the girls dance with poms poms for the very first time, and have to be bubbly, where as the previous prep class routines called for more attitude and aggression. In this class I decided to split the girls up into groups of five to perform the sideline routine in front of one another. This definitely turned the pressure on and helped them realize just how quickly the auditions are approaching! They were also all made aware that they’ll be auditioning in groups of four to six at opening day of Timberwolves Dancer Auditions on August 1.

Overall, the participants are keeping up with the choreography and more importantly, getting what they came here for – the “one-up” on the audition competition! As I explain to them at the end of every class, I’m really here for them and these prep classes are 100% THEIRS! Whatever it is they need, want to know, want to ask…I’m all theirs. They’re doing great and I’m happy to see the talent and potential of these young and talented women!

There are only two classes left and they’re by far the two most important ones! I’m going to go above and beyond everything that we’ve done in the first four classes and gear more towards the new hip-hop, aggressive, sexy dance style of the latest Timberwolves Dancers. We’re going to make magic happen and I want and am looking for the best of the best, and hey, I’ve even seen some of the best in these Timberwolves Dancer Audition Prep Classes!

The final two Timberwolves Dancer Audition Prep Classes are Friday July 22 and Sunday July 24 from 6:30-8:30pm at Target Center Life Time Fitness. Click here for more information on Timberwolves Dancer Auditions and we hope to see you there!

2011-12 New England Patriots Cheerleaders

Individual profiles and headshots of the Pats Cheerleaders have been posted on Patriots.com. If you just want to see the headshots, click here. If you want to see the profiles, plus super-sized headshots, click here to go the to the roster page. Don’t be fooled by the roster page. They haven’t gotten around to updating the headshots there, but if you click on the box for each cheerleader, it will take you to her individual page where you can see a large version of her photo.

Road to Timberwolves Dancer Auditions (Part 1)

Lauren Lang
Minnesota Timberwolves
July 15, 2011

With the 2010-11 NBA season in the review mirror, Timberwolves Dancer hopefuls have marked and circled August 1 on their calendars in preparation for the 2011-12 Dance Team auditions at Graves/601 Hotel. Leading up to the big day, Dancer head coach Natalie Alvarado created a six-class dance workshop for young ladies who are interested in becoming an NBA Dancer.

“For any dancer out there that wants to audition to be a Timberwolves Dancer for the 2011-12 season we recommend it,” explained Alvarado. “It’s not mandatory, but strongly suggested that you come out and get our official workouts, our official dance style and so much more that you will only receive in these prep classes.”

Over 30 prospective dance team members participated in both classes on Friday and Sunday night at Target Center Life Time Fitness, with many of the current dance team members returning to brush up on their skills. During the intense two hour workouts the style of dance was and will continue to be different for each of the six classes, with Alvarado at the helm creating one unique routine after another. During Friday night’s class the girls were taught a sassy and sexy routine set to Adele’s “Rumor Has It” followed by a stylized hip-hop routine on Sunday to a custom remix of Katy Perry’s “E.T.”

“As the new coach, I was anxious to see the talent and the potential from the girls,” exclaimed Alvarado. “I was just blown away by how fast they learned and how eager they were to get my style down, and It felt great to see how much fun they were having with both routines!”

Alvarado just wrapped up her first season as the Timberwolves Dancers director and choreographer and was very pleased to see some returning members who are still hungry for their spot on the team, seeing as they do have to re-audition. “They were working, sweating and showing “Coach” they still want to be here!”

The featured choreography has been anything but easy two classes into the workshop.

“As far as the dance goes, what they’re also learning in these classes is that each routine needs a character…an alter ego…a performer,” described a passionate Alvarado. The girls worked hard all the way to the end of each class and had the sweat and bruises to prove it. After nailing the steps the dancers were able to perform the routine for their potential new teammates, as their possible head coach cheered them on. “I’m definitely having fun working them out of their shells and comfort zones, and I love to see them become a different person once that music starts!”

Alvarado, a former NBA dancer with the Houston Rockets, was beaming after wrapping up the first two prep classes, “I’m here to push them, motivate them, inspire them, and although I don’t know them personally, I want them to know and realize I believe in them and they are one step closer to possibly becoming a Minnesota Timberwolves Dancer!”

There are still four remaining Timberwolves Dancer Audition Prep Classes: July 15, 17, 22 and 24 from 6:30-8:30pm at Target Center Life Time Fitness. If you’re interested in attending a prep class or auditioning to be a 2011-12 Timberwolves Dancer click here, for more information.

Boston Cannons Dance Team at the MLL All Star Game

Earlier this month Major League Lacrosse held it’s annual All Star Game at Harvard Stadium, home of the Boston Cannons. As they do at all Cannons home games, the Boston Cannons Dance Team provided entertainment on the sideline and stunning performances on the field.

2011 Boston Cannons Dance Team

2011 Boston Cannons Dance Team

Deanna and Katrina before the game mingling with the fans

Deanna and Katrina before the game mingling with the fans

Director/Choreographer Ashley

Director/Choreographer Ashley


Continue reading Boston Cannons Dance Team at the MLL All Star Game

P-R-O 2011: Poolside with the Jacksonville Axe Maidens

Prior to the start of the second day of the P-R-O Convention the Jacksonville Axe Maidens were kind enough to participate in a photo shoot in the pool area of the Sheraton Hotel.

Axe Maidens

Axe Maidens

Alyssa

Alyssa

Lindsay

Lindsay

Sarah T.

Sarah T.

Shannon

Shannon

[Axe Maidens Gallery]

[Jacksonville Axe Maidens]

The Adrenaline Rush Dancers’ Reunion Celebrates a Decade of Cheer

Neither searing heat nor flood producing rains could prevent the ten-year reunion of over fifty Adrenaline Rush Dancers. The ARD have been part of the entertainment at AFL Chicago Rush games since 2001, and their current Director Gloria Esposito celebrated the event with a ten-year reunion featuring a halftime performance and the participation of the alumni in the game break entertainment. The July 23rd game against Milwaukee was also Adrenaline Rush Dancer poster night.

Outside the Allstate Arena, the combination of heat and sudden rains left some roads impassable and about 70% of the traffic lights were not functioning. The Chicago Tribune’s front page headline read, “Sweltering heat, then rain. Repeat.” But inside the Arena, the current and former ARD were focused on performance and reuniting. When asked if the returning alumni would be more or less nervous than during their days on the squad, Gloria speculated that they might be more nervous performing for the reunion, since some had not danced in this type of setting since 2001.

Gloria performs at halftime

But prior to halftime, alumni Wynne (in the red ball) and Dee (in the blue ball) participated in the “Hamster Ball” race. Wynne was also an NBA dancer and captain in both Chicago (four years) and Milwaukee (one year), and now is the director of the NHL Chicago Blackhawks Ice Crew and the IFL Chicago Slaughter Dancers, and Dee also danced for the Luvabulls. Wynne jumped out to a big lead, and in Tortoise and Hare fashion, became a little cocky, running backwards in the hamster ball. But with mascots and event staff around, Wynne was blocked in her tracks and Dee caught up. Mascot Grabowski then gave Dee a little hold back, which gave Wynne a small lead to plunge to victory at the goal line.


Continue reading The Adrenaline Rush Dancers’ Reunion Celebrates a Decade of Cheer

Becoming a Laker Girl

Mike Trudell
Lakers.com
7/21/2011

What does it take to become a Laker Girl?

How does one dancer distinguish herself out of a group of hundreds, with only 22 spots on the STAPLES Center hardwood to be claimed?

A two-year veteran of the Laker Girls, Veronica knows what it takes; but having already been a part of the team only made her that much more determined to secure a spot on the 2011-12 Laker Girls. In her attempt, she allowed us a full view of the process through a series of interviews commencing with last Saturday’s auditions, leading up to the final phone call she and the other finalists eagerly (and nervously) awaited on the following Sunday.

Here’s our look behind the scenes – in Veronica’s words – at the dance steps needed to ultimately earn a Purple and Gold uniform.

How Could You, Dallas!
At 9:00 a.m. sharp on Saturday, July 16, Veronica and more than 400 Laker Girls hopefuls made a huge line outside the Toyota Sports Center to kick off the audition process, many having arisen hours earlier to get make up and outfits in accordance. But for Veronica, the process started back in May.
VERONICA: Even though I’m trying to focus all of my thoughts this Saturday morning on this audition, I can’t help but think back to how our previous season ended. Knowing that everything concluded so abruptly against Dallas, several of us from last year’s team knew we were going to try out again, and a switch turned on that said we really needed to focus on getting our spots back. We realize that our spots are absolutely not guaranteed, and that’s the most nerve-wracking thing, because after you’ve been through the process one, two or three years, you know what you’re missing. That brings some additional pressure to it. And so, to be in the best position to make the team again, several of us took classes in advance of auditions; since the Laker Girls are more jazzy from a stylistic standpoint, we tried to focus on that. In addition, several of us also went to the gym frequently to be as fit as possible, and are on a pretty strict diet.

Don’t Forget the Food

When each girl that makes every cut will literally be dancing all day at a high level, burning significant calories every few minutes, it’s important to come prepared with a few key items in the ol’ gym bag from which to draw energy. Don’t forget to pack a breakfast … and lunch … and snacks…
VERONICA: I definitely have this part all planned out. Before tryouts, I had a banana, some peaches and a fiber bar to get the right amount of energy and nutrition, but not too much. The key is not to forget to eat something, because you do need an adequate amount of energy to perform. In general, especially leading up to tryouts, I definitely say no to fast food … although if I’m being honest, I don’t eat much fast food anyway. I try to limit all my carbs, and try to concentrate on buying and making my own food. That way, it feels healthier. I admittedly do have a big sweet tooth, so I have to focus on cutting that out. I was brought up in a family that eats all different types of foods, and while I like trying everything – Thai, Mexican, etc. – it’s important to me to stay disciplined.

What Should I Wear? Seriously!
Never underestimate the importance of selecting the right outfit, whether to try and catch the eye of the judges … as long as it suits your actual personality.
VERONICA: This is my third time trying out for the Laker Girls, and when I think back to my first year, I really wasn’t sure what to wear and what to do with my hair. I ended up just pulling my hair back so it was out of my face, picking a red top and showing up. I was fortunate enough to make the team that year (2009-10), but the next season, I came with full hair and make up as the veteran Laker Girls typically do. Some girls like to wear regular sports bra tops, and some like to put bows and rhinestones and such to glitz it up, but to me you should just wear what you’re most comfortable with. I’m a bit superstitious, and I wore red in both the previous two years, but switched to teal this year … so we’ll see how that works out. I will say that you know best what looks good on your own body, and I feel fine about the teal today. So we’re OK here!

The First Dance
Returning Laker Girls have the right to skip the initial “Across the Floor” segment of auditions, which is a 15-second combination that the judges use to make the first cut. In this case, just under half (192) of the over 400 girls made it through. Up next: Round 1 of choreography, to “Till The World Ends” by Britney Spears.
VERONICA: While the rest of the girls are going through their “Across the Floor” steps, the veterans are off in the corner warming up on our own, getting set to jump into a combination for the first round of choreography. Today’s first routine had more of a jazz feel with basic techniques and turns; if you can do that basic turn, plus a leap and a kick, you should be fine. We’re not a stylized team, so whatever (choreographer) Shannon (Steen) teaches us, the judges really want us to copy that explicitly. Since jazz is probably my strongest point as a dancer, the first routine was right up my alley. I really try not to watch a lot of other girls and compare how I do, but focus on learning the routine so that I can execute it properly. It’s also an atmosphere of support where I try to root on the other girls and cheer them through routines. We all want to make it, and when our numbers are called, that encouragement really helps. It’s just a great experience to see everybody come out for this one elite team and know that everyone in this room, some flying in from cities all over the place, want in.

Mayhem
Veronica and the other nine returning Laker Girls all made it past the second cut, and thus advanced with 101 others to the second round of choreography, set to a song called “Mayhem” by Imelda May.
VERONICA: Because the second routine of the day was more fun and playful, what we call a “novelty” routine, it’s a less technical type of choreography and therefore a place where the judges are looking for our personalities to come out. It’s very precise … very clean. Since there are ultimately going to be about 22 of us on the team, with easier steps comes a need to be more hard-hitting and crisp in your movements. I felt good about my individual performance, but there’s always a good deal of nerves waiting to see if I make this next cut (in 10 minutes). While we’re waiting to hear (Laker Girls Director) Lisa Estrada call out numbers for those that make it, several of us will sit in a circle and hold hands. We want to become a team, and we’re all in this together, but it’s a tough competition. You never know exactly what Lisa and her judges are looking for, because for the final decision, some of it is about pairing and seeing who dances well together. In other words, we’re all pretty nervous. Since Lisa knows what I’m capable of, I feel like the bar is set higher, and I need to reach it or exceed it with every dance.

By the way (since you asked), here’s a quick snack update: I brought rice cakes, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread, granola and almonds to make sure I have energy as the day wears on. While we’re waiting, I try not to look at my phone, even though I have a great support system of family and friends that left me messages this morning. Right now it’s about performing, and not being on Facebook or Twitter distracting myself. I’m just waiting, hoping to hear my number.

All Eyez On Me
Surviving yet another cut along with 53 other dancers, Veronica checked in after performing her solo and telling the judges exactly why she wanted to continue being a Laker Girl.
VERONICA: After a quick moment of relief for making it through another cut, it was immediately time to try and focus on what I wanted to do with my solo. Before we dance, this segment is our chance to tell the judges why we want to become a Laker Girl, and then do a quick profile stance before trying to showcase our best style and our best moves … all while keeping the Laker Girls style in mind. I felt very prepared for this, and I felt like I put myself in a good light. You’d think you could relax a little bit here as the judges have now at least seen us do multiple things individually, but that’s easier said than done. The cut is so much more condensed. Knowing that it’s that small of a group, it’s that much more cut throat, so while we’re waiting to see if we made it, it’s hard not to go through every little move you made all day.

The Waiting Game (Ugh)
Try and picture being evaluating by your every move, your body, your clothes, your hair, your technique and … well, you … and then waiting for 15 minute to see if you were good enough, at least compared to the other scores of talented individuals around you. Pretty tricky, right?
VERONICA: I mentioned how nerve-wracking it is for all of us to sit down and wait to hear if our number is called, and you can see the strain from everybody. A few examples: I’m literally, and randomly, just dropping things throughout the day; girls that have rips in their tights are frantically going to change them; and we’re scared to go to the bathroom because we think we might miss something. We’re really just all on edge. It is (former Laker Girl) Octavia’s birthday, and we really want to sing to her, but she’s sitting here stressing out on her birthday. There isn’t really anything hilarious or overly interesting to share amongst our group of girls at this time, as we are really just focusing on moving forward one step at a time. My number is five, so I’m sitting here just waiting to hear it! That’s it!

1 … 2 … 3 … 4 … 5!
When Veronica’s number was called signifying her presence in the final 31 dancers selected on Saturday – meaning she’d advanced to the interview stage of the process – Veronica was predictably thrilled. The hardest part was over.
VERONICA: I feel great! Lisa called my number, and I was so relieved and excited. The whole process is such a well-oiled machine once you go through it, but being in the top 31 out of a group of such talented dancers is such an honor. Of course, it’s not over yet … Lisa usually picks a team of 21 or 22, and the next step is the round of interviews. Mine is Tuesday afternoon, and it will take about 30 minutes. The way we left things tonight was actually filling out a bit of paperwork, writing down our hobbies, why we want to be a Laker Girl, three references and so on. My hobbies, you wonder? I actually grew up playing basketball in addition to dancing … I was the big center. No, I’m kidding. I was the point guard, as I’m obviously a pretty small person. But I did play competitively throughout high school, and I’m a die-hard Lakers fan. Yes, I do watch every game on the road. But after we get done filling that out, it’s time to go home, be excited and start to prepare for the interview.

Questioning the Questions
Following Saturday night’s excitement, Veronica and the other 30 finalists were set to independently interview 1-on-1 with Lisa Estrada on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Veronica had three nights and two days to ponder what’s to come.
VERONICA: In the two days between auditions and interviews, I try to mentally prepare for questions that Lisa might ask. What can I contribute as a third year if I come back (?), for example. Lisa facilitates the interview as more of a conversation, instead of just repeated questions. So I just take from my first year and my second what she asked me, and try to twist it to see what she might ask this year. Thinking back to my first year: I was 21 and just out of college, still on edge and shaking, without really knowing what to expect. But I feel much more comfortable this third time around. This is where I get to show who I am professionally and as a person instead of just a dancer.

What to Wear … Again
Another chance to dress to impress, in a different way.
VERONICA: Fortunately, I’ve had a good amount of experience interviewing for other job positions, so I’m very familiar with the etiquette of how to dress professionally. I did have suit and skirt ready and prepared in this case, and I am wearing my lucky suit: my first year, I wore the same exact outfit as I have on today with a different shirt; last year I wore just the skirt with another shirt, and this year, I’m wearing the jacket and the skirt. It’s the same kind of superstition I had with my audition outfits.

Interviewed
Yes, it was easier a third time around, thanks to Veronica’s familiarity with Estrada, and the resulting ease of conversation. Knowing exactly what it takes to be a Laker Girl, and having some good ideas about how to be an even better one didn’t hurt, either.
VERONICA: I think today’s interview went really well! Knowing Lisa for a little over two years now, I’m just more comfortable. I’m calm, collected and professional, and it was less intimidating, as I felt like I was able to answer questions in a well thought out manner. I tried to share what I think I can contribute. For example: being a positive team player, having a good work ethic, being dedicated to the job and being reliable. I also tied in my weaknesses regarding where I could grow: I think I’m a pretty good public speaker, but I’d like to get better in that aspect, as well as with being interviewed. I’d also like to be able to be more of a leader this year, because I really looked up to the returner’s during my first two years. I think they set a really good example for us as either rookies or second-year dancers, and I’d like to be more welcoming and open if someone needs advice moving forward.

One thing that Lisa asked about was my most memorable moment from the previous season. My answer: working the NBA All-Star game here in L.A., because it was such a diverse experience. We got to work with the Clipper Girls and NBA Fan Patrol, and we were fortunate to perform alongside Rihanna, Lenny Kravitz and the Far East Movement. Dancing with Rihanna in particular was a moving moment; I remember specifically hugging (former Laker Girl) Bria and starting to cry. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to almost book a gig with Rihanna, and doing it as a Laker Girl. I had never done back up dancing, so it was definitely a highlight.

In contrast, the least memorable moment was definitely getting swept in the second round of the playoffs. It was in direct contrast to my first season, because being apart of the championship-winning 2009-10 Lakers and going all the way to the parade on the fire truck was so great. Especially as a die-hard fan, I was crying when it ended this year. Not only for the team, but also for us, not getting to go out and perform again. I’m usually positive person, but we’d put so much into it the Laker Girls that it was kind of heartbreaking. We kept in mind that we might not make it especially after going down 2-0, but if we were going to lose, we at least thought it would be at home.

Now that I’m about to leave the interview, I’ll call my parents to let them know how everything went. Or maybe I’ll text them … they’re very hip, you see. My mom even texted “LOL” the other day, believe it or not. They’ll ask me how it went, how I feel, and offer me a lot of encouragement. But it’s not just going to be about who fits best with everyone else as a team when we gather for final callbacks on Thursday night. I will say that I’m going into finals more confidence, because I’ve at least already gotten to show my best dancing and my best sense of myself in the interview. Finals is just putting it all together.

Final Call Backs
The 31 finalists showed up for a 5:30 p.m. final session on Thursday evening, as Estrada and the judges put the hopefuls through the two choreographed dances from Saturday in addition to a new routine taught on the spot by Estrada. Veronica performed each one up to her considerably high standards, feeling like she left her best effort on the floor.
VERONICA: I definitely feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. It’s finally out of all of our hands. We put all of our energy and hard work into this gym, on this floor. During Finals, we all come together whether we know each other well or not and are very supportive; we’ve done our best, and this was our last shot. We’re going to be nervous until we get the phone call from Lisa on Sunday telling us whether or not we are one of the final 22 selected as a 2011-12 Laker Girl. Personally, I think I’ve done all I can and can only hope for the best.

Earlier today, I woke up very calm and collected, and wasn’t too nervous. I tried to keep to myself, and as I was driving here, it settled in that this was my last chance. Waiting to come in here, I just mentally prepared that I had to put my best foot forward, at the same time trying to visualize what we’d be doing tonight. As it progressed, it was more of a fun thing, because they just needed to see who fit well with whom. In fact, a few of us got together one night between auditions on Saturday and finals tonight, just to shore everything up. Tonight’s dance, which Lisa choreographed, was to a Janet Jackson song that showed more of a diverse style, a bit jazzy and funky and in different formations to give her an idea of what she can do on the court with us. Furthermore, we go up individually and show the judges how we would do “mood music freestyle,” which is the more “cheerleader” part we do on the court. This is the time to pump up the crowd/fans. After looking at a number of different combinations of the 31 finalists, Lisa got us together and just thanked us for coming out. She always says that she’d love to take all of us, but it will likely be just 22 lucky girls that get the phone call. There’s nothing you can do from now until then but wait. My first year, I didn’t get a call until 7:55 p.m., when I knew the window she was calling was between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. … I was going insane. This year, it’s going to be between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., so I really can’t wait until then. Anyways, thanks so much for following me throughout the process!

And so, after all of that, will Veronica be one of the 22? Stay tuned … the 2011-12 Laker Girls will be revealed in early August on Lakers.com.

2011 Falcons Cheerleaders

Individual profiles for the 2011-12 Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders are online. Click here to learn more about the ladies on the team!

Reneau, Elizabeth, and Erin

2011 P-R-O Convention All Star: Washington Redskins Cheerleader Toccara

I’ve only been to two P-R-O Conventions, but one thing is quite obvious to me…and that is that the squads have carved out their territory on the dance floor because the Texans, Colts and Washington Redskins Cheerleaders were in the front, in the same spot as last year.   That’s cool…makes it easy for me to shoot them.  And I did take quite a lot of photos of these squads.  And one cheerleader that I took a fair amount of photographs of, was Washington Redskins Cheerleader Toccara.  I photographed her last year and one thing I remembered was that she was keenly aware when the camera was on her and delivered compelling looks.  You know, that’s one of the qualities of the best cheerleaders…when the camera is on them, they turn it on.  Even in a dance convention, while learning a routine, Toccara plays to the camera.   If you are a cheerleader, always play to the camera.  So for that reason, Toccara is a 2011 P-R-O Convention All Star.