Chiva Girls Update


cgnames
Click here for a bigger version of the photo.

There are new profile photos of the 2009 ChivaGirls on the Chivas USA website. No bios yet, but you can see the uniform shots right here. You can also click here to view photos from behind the scenes at the team’s photo shoot!

Behind the Scenes at the ChivaGirl Photo Shoot

The Sunday before last, the ChivaGirls (dance team for the MLS Chivas USA ) reported to the Home Depot Center in Carson , CA for their very first team photo shoot. The plan for the day was to photograph the girls individually for their team photo and profiles on the Chivas USA website. With almost 20 women to beautify, outfit, style, and photograph in a single day, they certainly had their work cut out for them.

When I arrived around 8:30 in the morning, things were in full swing, but you could tell that the switch to Daylight Savings Time had hit everyone pretty hard. It was a bit chilly in the room, though and that helped wake everyone up. I checked the digital thermometer on the wall. 54 degrees. Woo! This was going to be fun! As always, I took tons of photos for you guys. Check them out here.

The previous day, ChivaGirls Director Aimee Edmundson had clued me in on the plans for the photo shoot. There would be a new approach to the team photo this year. The team shot is their signature photo and will be posted on the Chivas USA website and will be autographed and handed out by the dancers at numerous game day and community events.

A lot of people will see this photo, so it has to be perfect.

Instead of a standard dance team photo, with the ladies lined up in rows, Aimee was going to try something entirely different. A little elbow grease was called for, as this project involved props.

Aimee’s husband Gavin had been put to work constructing a collection of giant letters to spell “ChivaGirls.” The plan was to position the girls in and around the letters. They’d shoot each letter individually, and then Photoshop them together for the team photo. Photographer Mike Nowak (who also shot the team’s swimsuit calendar) was going to jazz it up a little in post-production, so the finished product would be really slick. I couldn’t wait to see it all come together.

Aimee was the first person I saw when I walked in the door. She showed me all of the letters set up in the corner of the room. Each letter one was about five feet tall and made of half-inch foam board and plywood. A few of the letters had 2x4s built in for the girls to sit or stand on. Gavin swore up and down that the boards were sturdy enough to support a dancers’ weight, but I was a bit doubtful. A 2×4 is pretty narrow. I kept thinking how funny it would be if someone jumped up on that letter H and the whole thing crashed to the ground. Crash! Bang! Boom! I mean, it would be bad of course. It would kind of ruin the photo shoot, and someone could get badly bruised. But imagine watching that video over and over. It would never get old.

(Does that make me a bad person?)

I was particularly interested to find out which girl would have to perch on the center bar of the letter H. Somebody’s hindquarters would be extremely sore by the end of the day. I wonder if the ChivaGirls get hazard pay?

Most of the girls had arrived before I did and a few of them were already in hair and makeup. Big curlers. Fuzzy slippers. Uggs. It was all glamour.


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There was a lot of ChivaWear laying around the room. Some of the girls were trying on their uniforms and warm-ups for the first time. All of the girls got new boots. There was a cardboard box off to the side, where the veterans had tossed their old boots. Poor, sad go-go boots. They had obviously seen some rough times.


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Looking around, I immediately noticed someone I didn’t expect to see there. She looked an awful lot like the a red pailette girl I mentioned in my earlier post. (FYI: her name is Erica. Thank you Amanda, for the scoop on that.) I mentally ran through the photos of girls who had made the team. As far as I knew, the only blondes were Laura and Mandi. Yet here was a third. After about 5 minutes of peeking at her from the corner of my eye, I was 100% sure it was Erica.

What was she doing there? I’d seen the list of girls who made the team, and her name wasn’t on it. I did a quick headcount. She can’t have replaced someone. All 17 members were accounted for. Had she shown up at mini-camp and everyone was too chicken to take her aside and say “Look honey, you didn’t make the team. This nice man right here is going to escort you from the building.”

(Just to clarify, I’m not saying Erica hadn’t been selected because she is a bad dancer. She’s a great dancer and a beautiful girl, and I was surprised when she didn’t make the team. But what was going on here? Somebody had some ‘splainin to do.)

I casually sidled up to Kelley and Marie. “So, uh….what’s with blondie over there?”

The scoop is there are actually 19 ChivaGirls, not 17 as I believed. Two of them had been left off of the Chivas website for various reasons. Erica is one. Liz is the other.



Erica and Monique
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(Meanwhile, I really need to talk to Aimee about this thing with the odd numbers. What is up with that? 17 and 19 aren’t even divisible by anything! Why not 16? Why not 20? Who picks 19 girls for a team? I am sorry, but that is just weird.)

I did another headcount. This time I came up with 18 ChivaGirls. Sandra was absent because she had to be out of town for a prior commitment. Whatever it was must’ve been pretty important for her to miss the photo shoot. The group photo is kind of a big deal. Now she’s going to spend the entire season autographing that photo and she’s not even in it! Bummer. Surely there’s some way to include her. Can’t they photoshop her head in there somewhere? Or maybe draw a stick figure in a red and white vest, with an arrow that says “Sandra.”

I mentally tucked that away to ponder later, and went looking for Jebbel and Alheli. Somebody needed to tell me how to say Jebbel and Alheli.

ChivaGirls Pronunciation Guide:
Alheli. Pronounced All-hey-LEE. Alheli is a type of flower (similar to an oleander). FYI: the whole plant is poisonous. If you ingest it, you’ll get really really sick. Like “barfing up a lung” sick. If you burn the plant and breathe the smoke, you’ll be dead. Keep that in mind before you mess with Alheli.
Jebbel. Rhymes with Dave Chapelle’s last name. The J is a soft J like “Elijah.” Not a hard J like “Jerry.” Jebel (slightly different spelling) means “mountain” in Arabic. There are a lot of mountains called Jebel this or Jebel that in the UAE and that area of the world. I don’t know if that’s what her parents were going for.

(Yeah I looked it up. You got a problem with that???)

The actual photography was scheduled to start at 10. In the meantime, there were various activities going on: sleeping, reading, writing, working, playing “The Price is Right” on the I-phone, etc.br br
Tiffany

It’s so interesting. During auditions, everyone has their game face on. It’s only after you make the team, and that you start to see what you’re working with. They’re a bunch of goofballs and troublemakers, if you ask me. It’s just that some are quieter about it than others.

The other person on hand was Aimee’s son, aka Hurricane Keiran. He is two and a half, and like most kids his age, has an insane amount of energy. He’s the kind of kid you have to tag-team to keep an eye on. Aimee had him. Then Gavin had him. Then Megan, then Marie, then Kelley. Keiran has a monster crush on Marie. He luuuuuuvs Marie. He went outside and picked a flower for her. Soon after that, he passed out, dead asleep. Oh man, I miss being two years old. Was that the life, or what?

I helped Aimee move the letters to an open area so she could figure out everyone’s individual pose and how they would all look together. They did “Chiva” first and Mandi was the lucky girl who got the “H” (snicker). Aimee told her to hop up there and Mandi’s eyes got big like “I thought you were joking about that part.” But she climbed up there. A few minutes later, she was looking mighty relieved when Aimee had her switch places with Alheli.

Meanwhile, Marie was cute as a bug in a rug, tucked into the letter C like that.



Marie

All of this was a bit more challenging than it looks. Remember, those letters are made of foam board, which isn’t sturdy enough to support anyone’s weight. So everyone appearing to lean or rest on the letters had to fake it a little. Those who were sitting on the 2x4s didn’t have a much better deal.br /br /Alheli was next. I have to give her credit. She rolled with it like it was no big deal, but she had to be in some of the most awkward, uncomfortable positions ever. She was sitting there with one leg in front of the H. Aimee and Mike couldn’t decide if they wanted the other leg in front of the H or behind the H, so she had to keep moving it. Keep in mind that she was sitting on a 5inch wide board, 3 or 4 feet above the ground. Every time they wanted her to move that leg, she had to balance on one side of her tush and lift the other foot way up in the air and over the H to get it to the other side. After watching the first couple of attempts, Emi stepped in to keep her from toppling over. (I wanted to take a photo of it, but I was too busy laughing. Come on, it was funny!) Then they told her to take one boot off while she was balanced up there, and I just about lost it. But Alheli did all of it without batting an eye. That’s what I call a team player!


Emi gives Alheli a hand

Monique and Mandi were next. I don’t know whose idea it was for Monique to have her foot up in the air like that. I warned her she was going to be in serious pain afterward. She didn’t believe me. “I only have to hold it for a few seconds” were, I believe, her exact words.


Monique and Mandi
br /I hate to say “I told you so.”
(But I did tell you so.)

Methinks it’ll be a while before Monique does another heel stretch.

On the other hand, some of the girls had it easy. Megan, Emi, and Amy were all sitting on the floor, so they had it made. Nicole had the G, which is the easiest letter ever.



Nicole


Megan


Emi


(Serena, on the other hand, I’m sure had board marks on her posterior long after the shoot was over.)


Serena


Ariel

Tiffany’s pose looked a little painful. She had to squat down and balance on one foot with the other leg stretched out to the side. I bet she really felt it when she stood up afterward. That whole crouching thing was not working. A little voice in my head was sing-songing “I see London. I see France…” Somebody put this girl in a different pose already.

Aimee called in Lindsay for reinforcements on this one. Lindsay is a former Clippers dancer and now works a steady stream of dance gigs. It took a minute, but Lindsay was able to come up with a pose that put Tiffany on the ground in a position that didn’t require squatting. It was sort of a halfway kneeling thing, and I know Tiffany was grateful. (Although I bet that one hurt too.)



Tiffany

Speaking of Tiffany, check out her new hairstyle. The stylist took a few inches off and created a graduated bob that’s a bit longer in the front than the back. That hair gives her a lot more “oomphf.” And who knew she was so adorable?

Liz had a tough one too, leaning against the A like that. I think they put Ashley on the other side to keep the A from wobbling.


Ashley and Liz

Can we talk about Ashley’s hair for a minute? She’s got this gorgeous, curly hair and it is huge. She is not a big person so when she sits down, it’s like a big pile of hair with some legs and feet sticking out underneath. I’d love to have that hair. I’d trade with her in a heartbeat. I’m serious.

Watching everyone transform from “regular girl” to “ChivaGirl” was fascinating. It was like watching Bruce Wayne turn into Batman. (But with chicks in short skirts.) Hey, they both wear tights, right? And boots. ChivaGirls may not have a utility belt like Batman, but at least they don’t wear their underwear on the outside.

Kelley was doing double duty as one of the two makeup artists for the day. She used to work for MAC. Now she freelances for special occasions (weddings and such.) That really says something about Kelley, because a bride on her wedding day is one of the scariest creatures alive. Wound up. Hysterical. Tearful. Crazed. Drunk. And that was just MY sister on her wedding day. (Well, except for the drunk part.)




Jebbel and Marie were the first to get dolled up and ready to go.br


Jebbel and Marie

After their turn, they wanted to look at photos. Aimee had to put an end to that because they were getting hypercritical and picking themselves apart. It’s not that they were all having a Jan Brady moment (I’m ugly! UGLY!), but each found at least one body part to be horrified about. They were making themselves mental over it, so Aimee cut them off. (Access to the photos, I mean. Not their body parts.)


Marie, you look fine

I don’t know if that helped or not. Sometimes the unknown is scarier than the known. Clearly some of them were sitting around, convinced that they would look like drooling, cross-eyed lizard-women in their photos.

On the other hand, I guess it could’ve been worse. They could have been stomping around the place like “I cannot believe you are unable to capture my innate hotness with your camera.”

It’s not that they’re shallow. I mean, I get it. If someone was taking a photo of me and I knew
(A) hundreds, if not thousands of people would see it
(B) I would be surrounded on both sides by good looking women,
(C) looking good is part of the job, and/or
(D) there are no do-overs,

I guess I’d be a little paranoid too.

I don’t like people taking my picture, and nobody ever even sees those!

Mostly, they just got this pained expression on their faces.

I was sympathetic at first. I started out the morning, like “What are you talking about; you look totally cute in this picture.” But that wore off a couple hours into it and I found myself torturing them instead.

ChivaGirl: Ugh. My thighs are huge.
That is not true. The one on the left looks perfectly fine

ChivaGirl: I think one of my eyes is bigger than the other.
Me: You noticed that too, huh?

ChivaGirl: Why does my face look like that?
Me: Genetics. We all have our crosses to bear.

Hey, I kid because I love.

Honestly, they all looked great. Better than great. I wished they would realize that and stop fussing about it. I really wanted to stand up on a chair and say “Listen up, ChivaGirls. Knock it off!”

A few letters into the shoot – somwhere around V or A, it all started to come together. I could visualize the end result in my head. This photo is going to be so cool.

The girls shooting in pairs (letters C-I-A-R-S) were interesting to watch. Inevitably, one girl’s pose was way easier than the other girl’s pose. Take Amy and Laura, for instance. Amy sat down, and she was good to go. Meanwhile, it was “turn this way Laura, turn that way Laura, take a step towards me, turn to the side, nevermind, go back to where you were, can you do something different with your arms?”

Everyone’s trying to figure out where to put Laura and Amy’s just chillin like “Whatever. Take your time; I know what I’m doing.”

Yeah, except where’s the rest of your uniform, Amy?
D’oh. So easy to forget about that vest.



Amy and Laura

Once they were into the letters G-I-R-L-S things started to speed up. The girls at the end of the word were thinking they still had a lot of time, and then all of a sudden, it was “Get it together girls. I need bodies over here!” Then there was a big red and white flurry as everyone hurried to get ready.

Kelley and Dalila were the last pair. Earlier in the day, the news that they were going at the end, was a real downer. What none of us realized though, was the girls with the last letter would have the first individual shoots. So in the end, they actually wound up finished before everyone else. Nice!



Kelley and Dalila

Dalila stepped up to go first for the individuals. Dalila is a baseball-hat-and-sweats kind of gal, and she looked more than ready to be done with the shoot and jump back into her comfy clothes.

The other girls were off to the side, trying to figure out poses that were flattering and not weird-looking. Each girl did a few photos with the soccer ball and a few without. Believe it or not, there aren’t that many things you can do with a soccer ball. Especially if it’s a ¾ standing shot. You can’t kneel or sit or rest your foot on the ball. You can’t hold it over your head, because you’ll look like a lunatic. It’s pretty much “do I want to hold this thing on my right side or my left side?” Given the limitations, I thought they came up with some good ideas.



Ariel


Erica


Alheli


Serena


Megan


The individual shots went faster than fast. They kept it moving like an assembly line, and the next thing I knew, it was over. That was around 3-ish, I think.

I wondered what a ChivaGirl does when the photo shoot is over and she’s standing there in sweats with a face full of makeup. There’s still plenty of daylight left. Do you take that face and that hair rollerblading? Do you go see a movie? Go home and defrost the freezer? Do you find your boyfriend and make him watch while you peel off your lashes, because you know that freaks him out?br /br /Or am I the only one who thinks like an 8 year old?

Introducing: The Starting 11 Girls

Join me in welcoming a new dance team to Major League Soccer – the Kansas City Wizards Starting 11 Girls! The Wizards had a dance team about four years ago, but it eventually evolved into a hospitality team. Now they’re bringing the dancers back, under the direction of Stephanie Gazonas (who you may recognize from the Kansas City Brigade Girls.) We’re expecting great things from this group!

This year, the team provides the best of both worlds. 11 of the 16 girls are dancers, while the remaining 5 will be hospitality ambassadors. The 2009 MLS season is just around the corner, so this team has been incredibly busy. Among other things, they recently finished shooting their brand new swimsuit calendar. Ooh la la!

Many thanks to Stephanie for sending us a couple of photos to tide us over until we can meet the whole team. You may recognize these two beauteous young ladies. Both Amy (top) and Ciera (bottom) were Kansas City Brigade Girls. The KC Brigade is out of commission this season, so it’s great to hear that some of the girls were able to find another great opportunity to keep on dancin’.



PCB Field Trip: ChivaGirl Preliminary Auditions

ChivaGirl auditions started on Sunday Feb 15th at the Home Depot Center in Carson, which is a bit south of Los Angeles. I took tons of photos for you all so you can see how the process went. If you haven’t had a chance to look at them, you can do that right here




I was so excited to be invited because I was really really really looking forward to it. I love going to auditions. LOVE it.

(I’d love it even more if there were no cuts, but alas, that is the nature of the beast…)

One thing about auditions is they are crazy repetitive, but that’s actually one of the best things about the process. It’s a great opportunity to see new choreography, to see what the dancers are made of, to see familiar faces from other auditions and see how they’ve progressed, to see which dancers rise to the top of the pack, and of course it gives me a chance to work on my photography skills (such as they are).

I was particularly excited for these auditions because firstly, I (heart) the ChivaGirls and their director Aimee Edmundson. Secondly, I was hoping that Mr. John Peters would do the choreography, because Mr. John Peters is super-cool. And thirdly, the auditions were scheduled to take place in a building called the Velodrome. What’s a velodrome? Heck if I knew, but once I became aware of its existence, I was compelled to know what goes on inside.

Velodrome…It sounds like a place where mysterious and exciting things happen. As in “Welcome to the Velodrome, where cheerful elves make fairy dust out of rainbows and happy thoughts!”

On the other hand, the Velodrome could also be a place where dark, sinister things happen. Dancers check in, but they don’t check out. As in “Welcome to the Velodrome. Abandon all hope ye who enter here. (Kindly ignore the screams from the basement)”

Continued…

So on Sunday morning, I motored over to the Home Depot Center campus. There are several different venues on the premises, but some helpful person had posted arrows to guide cars in the right direction. When I got there, the nervous-looking girls standing around in track suits were also a good indication that I was in the right place.

I was heading inside, when veteran ChivaGirl Alana, drove into the lot.

When you see a veteran first thing in the morning on audition day, it is NEVER good news.

Alana, it seems, is planning to study abroad this year. And since you can’t be a ChivaGirl whilst living in another country, she is “taking a year off.” WhatEVER. That is no different from when your boyfriend says he wants to “take a break.” Shyeah. You know you’re never gonna see that dude again. We all know what happened when Ross and Rachel took a “break.”

I went inside and woohoo! Harris sister spotting! I love me some Harris sisters. But then, I looked a little farther down the table, and there’s Linette, another ChivaGirl veteran. That did not bode well.

On the one hand, she was wearing dance clothes. On the other hand, she was standing BEHIND the table. Linette retiring too? I told her this was completely unacceptable. She gave me the big old twinkly Linette smile with the dimples and everything. Like that was going to make it ok. I told her to talk to the hand, because the face ain’t listenin’.

So now I was in a MOOD. Because now I had to do a headcount and figure out who all else was flaking out on me.

Yeah, I take it personal when people retire on me. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: you veterans really need to tell me ahead of time if you’re not going to re-audition. You can’t just spring it on me. I’m a very sensitive person and I find this kind of surprise very upsetting. (Clippers Girls, this goes for you too especially. Consider yourselves warned.)

Thankfully, I didn’t see anymore veterans, so I opened the double doors and got my first look at…


The Velodrome

(Imagine the NFL theme music playing in the background.
Wrong sport, but whatever)

The Velodrome is a place where people in spandex, who take biking very seriously, go around and around and around in circles. It’s a big oval track that curves up in some places like the walls in a skate park. Picture a big wooden bowl with twisty sides and a flat bottom.

Random thought: I’ve never been to a roller derby, but this looked like a place where a roller derby might go down. That could be interesting.

You enter the Velodrome at the top, and step downward through the stands to the track. Barriers are in place to keep rowdy fans from jumping down on the track. Another set of barriers separate the track from the floor at the bottom. (I guess those barriers are meant to keep rowdy cyclists from jumping down on the floor…?)

The ChivaGirls audition would of course take place down on the floor. Duh. But there didn’t seem to be a direct path to get down there. This looked to be a serious problem. I was prepared to jump over the barrier if I had to, but that seemed a little extreme.

Then I heard someone call my name and saw my girl Kelley waving from the floor. She then explained to me that – get this – in order to get down there where she was, I’d have to walk down the hall and go through a secret door the ladies room.

THROUGH the ladies room, you say?

Riiiiight. That doesn’t sound shady at all.

I thought we were friends, Kelley, but you know what? You can talk to the hand too. I’ll find my own way down there.

Turns out I owe Kelley an apology for all the uncomplimentary things I said about her under my breath. She was right. You do have to go into the little girls room, where there’s a door that leads to a set of stairs. Those stairs end at another door that takes you outside of the building. Then you have to go along the sidewalk to another door, where you go back inside the building and down another set of stairs, and then up a little ramp and out onto the floor.

I’m not saying the person who designed this building was high at the time. I’m just saying that I do not understand the thought process behind it at all.

If nothing else, the design is horribly inefficient.

Down on the floor, the judges were chatting, and many of the aspiring ChivaGirls were warming up. The veterans were there, which I wasn’t expecting. I eyeballed them and came out with 9 veterans re-auditioning for a team of 17 to 20 dancers. If I were a newbie, I’d consider those pretty good odds.

Best part – two former Clippers girls were auditioning, Tiffany and Laura. Yesss! The two teams I (heart) most are ChivaGirls and Clippers Spirit. When they overlap, it makes me happy. Especially since Laura was one of the girls, and she was, is, and will always be, a freakin’ rock star.



Laura and Tiffany

Meanwhile, I had to find Aimee right away, because I had a little gift for her.

Sidebar: At some point during my formative years, I can’t remember exactly when – somebody, somewhere produced an obscure made-for-tv movie about the Laker Girls. All I remembered was that Tina Yothers was in it and she could not dance at all. Like, not even a little bit. And there was another girl who auditioned who was supposed to be a ballet dancer and she couldn’t dance either. Ballet or otherwise.

Anyway, at a Chivas USA Game last summer, I’d mentioned the movie to Aimee, and she’d revealed that she not only knew about the movie, she was in it.

She was IN the movie.
With Tina Yothers.
And the ballet chick.
Wearing MC Hammer pants.

We were in the ChivaGirls locker room at the time, and Ashley, one of the ChivaGirls, overheard our conversation. Ashley had recently been selected to the 2008-09 Laker Girls, so when she heard us discussing the Laker Girls, her ears perked up. (Not literally, of course). Ashley had never heard of the Laker Girls movie.

Ohmigawd, I had to fix that situation right away.

That night, I went home and scoured the internet for that movie. I really wanted to see Aimee doing the running man in purple and gold harem pants. I also thought it would be educational for Ashley to learn a little about the history of her new team. (I can’t believe they don’t sit all the Laker Girls down and force them to watch this movie as part of their initiation.)

I didn’t find anything on youtube or any of the other video sites, but shockingly, I DID find it on DVD on Amazon. It was only $6 y’all! I immediately ordered three copies. One for Aimee, one for Ashley, and one for myself. (You can get one right here.)

You have GOT to see this movie. It is so awesomely bad. Tina Yothers starts out as a rollerskating carhop somewhere in the Midwest. From there it just gets better and better.

All the major themes for cinematic excellence are represented here. A hero. A villain. Sibling rivalry. Adventure. Dance. Glamour. Romance. Ambition. Deceipt. Forgiveness. Fame and fortune. What it lacks in explosions and high speed chase scenes, it makes up for in big hair and belted leotards.

I could not wait to give the DVD to Aimee, so when I found her I presented it with a flourish. As if I’d done something extremely clever.

Mr. John Peters came over while I was talking to Aimee. Mr. John Peters is THE MAN when it comes to this type of choreography. Nobody can touch him. He knows right where the line is with this kind of dance. Big, but not too big. Sassy, but not trashy. Cute but not cutsie. The man knows the value of a well-placed kick or turn.



So he came over, cool hair and all, and revealed a deep dark secret: Not only was Aimee in the Laker Girl movie, but she was also in the movie Teen Witch.

Shut. Up. Teen Witch???

This is totally off-topic, but I have to reminisce for a moment. You HAVE seen Teen Witch, right? Not “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” I’m talking about the original, the first, the OG movie. Dorky girl finds out she’s a witch and uses her magical powers to transform herself into the most popular girl in school and snag the hunky captain of the football team.

That’s not even the best thing about this movie. The best thing is ….

…wait for it…

….it is a MUSICAL. Featured songs include “I like boys” and “I’m gonna be the most popular girl.”

“I like boys” features the cool girls who rule the school dancing around in the girls locker room. The lyrics go something like this: “I’m turning in my teddy bear for a leather mini skirt because I. LIKE. BOYS.”




There is also a rap number.

So. Awesome.

I have a whoooole new level of respect for Aimee. And for Mr. John Peters, who actually sang part of the chorus for me.

(I don’t know why I call him Mr. John Peters. I just do. I’m sure his pals call him John, or Peters, or Johnny P., or something.)

Still reeling after that revelation, I trotted off to get my camera stuff together. I was skipping along happily, when WHAM! Next thing I know, I’m on the floor. Had I been paying attention, I might have noticed the five-inch drop from the wooden layer to the concrete floor beneath it.

I landed on my hands and knees, which you might think is no big deal, except it made a really loud noise when my palms slapped down on the wooden floor. THWAP! So of course Aimee and Mr. John Peters, and God knows who else turned around, and I’m trying to jump up like “I’m okay, I’m okay, nothing to see here folks.” Only I can’t jump right up because my ankle kind of hurts, and the only thing worse than falling in the first place, is trying to get up and then falling again.



A sign would’ve been helpful.

I don’t know how it did it, but I managed to get up, all casual-like, and stroll over to a seat, where I took a few minutes to break into a nervous sweat, calm down, cool down, and evaluate myself for broken body parts.

All of my limbs were intact, so it was time to get to work. First order of business: get photos of all the dancers before the auditions. This has always been the hardest part for me, walking up to a total stranger like “hey, what’s up, can I take a picture?” So here’s how I handled it: I’d mosey on up to a group of girls and ask if any of them saw me fall on my face just now.




After that, it was time to start the auditions. Aimee welcomed everyone and thanked them for coming, and then Mr. John Peters began teaching the choreography. He had some helpers to assist him in demonstrating the dance: Linette, of course. Summer from the Charger Girls, and Laker Girls Jeri-Faye and Nicole.

FYI: there were Laker Girls, past and present, throughout this whole ChivaGirls experience. It was a bit shocking, as I have been scheming to ingratiate myself with the Laker Girls for several years now – with zero progress. But I will not give up. Some of my Clippers girls and ChivaGirls are over there, and I demand to know what they’re up to.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m obsessed with the Laker Girls, it just that the harder they make it for me, the more determined I am to infiltrate the entire organization. Um…on second thought, I probably shouldn’t be writing this in a public forum.

My point, anyway, is that this pro dance stuff is a small world. I’m starting to see a lot of familiar faces.

By the way, I’ve decided that I would also like to have a hyphenated name. Sasha-Faye? Sasha-Lee? Sasha-Lynn, maybe? Perhaps I’ll change my name to Sasha-Lynn and pursue a career in country music.



Jeri-Faye and Nicole.
FYI: Jeri-Faye was a ChivaGirl in 2007


Summer

Wow, do I know how to veer off topic, or what?
Back to the ChivaGirls audition…

While the teaching and learning was going on, I circled around to find the best angle for photos. See, the first thing you gotta do in this situation is figure out which way everyone will be facing for the money shots – the kicks, the leaps, the moments in the dance when they slow down for half a second. There were 2 or 3 professional photographers there, so I tried to watch and imitate.

For a while, I sat on the floor in front of the judges table, but then I noticed a short set of stairs leading up to a small platform above the judges. A couple of the photographers were up there and I thought to myself “hmmm…this looks promising.” So up I went. It was a good spot for capturing the action. (In a minute, you’ll understand why this is relevant.)

The music was a song called “Krazy” by Pitbull (feat. Lil Jon). I hadn’t heard this song before. It goes like this: “…(la la la la) KRAZY, (la la la la ) Krazy, (la la la la) Krazy.” (The “la la la’s” being the part I didn’t know.) I’m pretty sure one of the lines is “Yo mama, she gets Krazy.” Here’s a link, so’s you can hear the song.

One of the things that makes Mr. John Peters fun is the way he teaches. The way he describes everything not only makes it easier to do, but also easier to remember. There’s the “karate,” the “kick the cat,” (I forgive you Mr. John Peters for being a cat hater,) the “hand on the shelf,” the “single hootchie,” the “double hootchie,” and my favorite, the “Disney.” He had to help some of the girls figure out the vibe of the dance. It wasn’t supposed to be all “pretty pretty princess,” you know? But don’t go too far in the other direction – this isn’t a 50 Cent video. This is a dance team, ok? It’s family entertainment, not the nudie bar.

Not that I know what goes on at the nudie bar.




They were about halfway through the choreography when I managed to make a jackass of myself all over again. Only this time it wasn’t just a few people who saw me. Everyone saw me. EVERYONE. I am not exaggerating in any way, shape, or form. I actually hid afterward.

Remember that I mentioned I was sitting up on the platform behind the judges? Everything was fine – until I decided to get up. Somehow, in the process of standing up, I managed to crack my head on a metal sign attached to nearby pole.

It is very important to me that you understand that this sign was attached to a free-standing metal stand. I don’t just go around knocking into stationary objects. This sign had been moved to a place where I did not expect it to be. I’m not saying someone was out to get me. I’m just saying that thing was NOT there when I sat down.

I didn’t knock it over or fall on it or anything, if that’s what you’re thinking. No no, that would be too simple. Let me tell you about this sign. This sign had a bell on it. I’m not talking about cute little jingle bells, or sleigh bells, or door bells. I’m talking about a big “have you been to Philadelphia and seen the Liberty Bell?” kind of bell. I hit the sign, and the bell went “BONG.” It wasn’t a little “bong” either. It was an enormous “Hey everybody, stop what you’re doing and look at me!!!” BOOOOONG.


Why me, God?
Why me all the time?

Aimee looked up and asked me what I was doing. I told her I was working on a concussion, and she was like “geez, I can’t take you anywhere.”

One of the other photographers just looked at me and shook his head.



Stupid bleeping sign.

Oh well. It wasn’t the most embarrassing moment of my life, and it for sure won’t be the last.

I waited for everyone to go back to what they were doing, then gingerly made my way back down to the floor, where I stayed put and did not move one inch until Round One started. My head hurt. My ankle hurt, and my dignity was in tatters. I was thinking, Aimee’s going to make me sign a waiver before she lets me into finals. If she lets me into finals.

First my ankle and then my skull. Things tend to happen in threes, you know. I spent the rest of the day expecting an anvil to fall from the sky and flatten me like a pancake, Wile E. Coyote-style.

After teaching the combination, the DJ put the song on a continuous loop so the dancers could practice. I noticed that they all scooted off to one side, out of the judges’ direct line of vision.

I scurried over to my bag, pausing to warn the Harris sisters to be careful, as it was obvious the whole entire building was booby trapped.

The time between learning the choreography and the actual audition, is one of the most interesting parts of the day. This is the part when you look around and start picking your favorites. (You don’t discuss any of this with the judges of course.) Some girls sat down and looked rather relaxed. Some marked the choreography along with the music. A few danced full out.


Don’t forget, there are loads more photos right here


It warmed the cockles of my heart to see the veterans helping some of the other girls. I noticed Amy and Marie in particular, walking through the counts with a couple of girls who seemed unsure about the steps.

If Dr. Laura was here, she would point at Marie and Amy and say (in her grand Dr. Laura way) “those two are women of character!” (That’s a complement, by the way. Dr. Laura is sometimes right about things.)

Speaking of Marie, I forgot to mention one other thing. The ChivaGirls 2009 calendar has just been released. Marie made me remember, because she’s on the cover (with Alana and Jessica.)

That calendar came out gore-juss. I’ll tell you lots more about the calendar some other time, but I assure you, it’s a fine piece of work. I spotted a stack of calendars, helped myself to one, and took it around the room for everyone to oooh and ahhh with me.



(This crappy photo I took doesn’t do justice to the cover at all.)

I am awfully proud of that calendar, which makes no sense, since I had nothing to do with the making of it.

Meanwhile, this was a good time to check out the outfits. Most of the girls were wearing the standard bright-colored two-piece ensemble. There were a few notable exceptions, though. One girl was wearing a teeny yellow skirt, which was super cute. Another girl was wearing a sparkly bra-top under a black mesh top. A third girl was wearing silver hot pants and matching silver shoes.

Nothing says “confidence” like silver hot pants.

My favorite top was red with a bow in the middle and red paillettes all over. (Pailettes are big fancy sequins with the hole at the top instead of in the middle.)

(Why am I explaining this? There is not one person reading this, thinking “Wow, I always wondered what pailettes are, and now I know. Thanks Sasha!”)

The bow is what put it over the top for me. Not as cute in the photo as in real life, but still super cute, right?

I’ve seen this girl at a few different auditions now. I wish I knew her name, so I could be all “hey, there’s Cindy.” (Or whatever her name is.) Instead of “hey, there’s that blonde girl I’ve seen before.”




Right. So after some rehearsal, it was time to start the auditions. There they went, three at a time. It was not easy. They had to freestyle for a few counts and then jump right into the choreography at a place that wasn’t completely obvious. I thought they all did a good job, and a few really sparkled. It went really fast.

La la la la Krazy. La la la la Krazy. La la la la Krazy.

I found out later that Silver Hot Pants messed up the choreography and instead of freaking out, she did a couple back flips. I can’t believe I missed it. Let that be a lesson to all. If you screw up, it’s not about how bad you look, it’s about how well you recover. Seems to me like a pretty good way to get the judges’ attention – if you’re willing to risk it. The judges don’t remember her as “the girl who messed up.” They remember her as “the girl who did a back flip.” (And made it to finals, by the way.)

In silver hot pants.

After everyone had a turn to perform, there was a break for the judges to deliberate. (I try to tune out during that part. Otherwise, I might offer my advice at a time when nobody’s looking for it.)



Spying on the judges. Mwahahahaha…

I think this is when the bikers started to show up. Not “Hell’s Angels” bikers. Bicycle bikers. Going around and around, like there was nothing else going on in the room.



If I were a professional bike rider, I’d put some cool tassels on my handle bars.

It wasn’t too long before the judges announced the first cut. One of the girls I was particularly rooting for didn’t make it, leaving me with some very upset feelings, in addition to the throbbing in my ankle and the dent in the top of my head.

After the cut, we took a group photo of all the girls who made it to the next round.




Then it was time to learn the rest. Rather than teaching a different combination for the second round, Mr. John Peters added on to the choreography they’d already learned. The new stuff included a calypso leap, (anything with the word “calypso” in it is bound to be fun), and ended with a dramatic, Flashdancy kind of pose.


calypso!


The big finish


I can’t remember if the new stuff was longer than the old stuff. It seemed to take less time to learn it though. And then it was time for the second cut.



Each group of 3 performed the dance. After that, they were called up to the judges’ table to say their name and a little about their dance history.

The first few groups had to answer off the cuff. Later groups found out what the questions were, and had a moment or two to prepare. Unfair, I say!

Each girl was asked if she speaks Spanish. Woe unto to those who lied about it, though because then one of the judges would ask a couple of questions in Spanish. It wasn’t difficult stuff – what do you like to do in your free time, what’s your favorite food, where are your parents from, etc. But it was enough to tell a native speaker from a poser. There were no posers in the house though. Those who couldn’t speak Spanish admitted it, and several volunteered to purchase Rosetta Stone. That’s not to say that you have to speak Spanish to be a ChivaGirl. Many of the veterans do not speak Spanish. But they do like to have at least a few Spanish-speakers on the team.




After that, there were more deliberations, and then another cut. I took the opportunity to go out to my car to fetch Ashley’s copy of the Laker Girls movie. I don’t have Ashley’s contact info, so I wasn’t sure how to get it to her, but as luck would have it, Jeri-Faye agreed to pass it on. (After giving me the “you are a very strange person” look, which was understandable. If I weren’t me, I’d wonder what I was doing running around with an obscure Laker Girls DVD like it was secret footage of the aliens crashing at Roswell.)

By this time, I was feeling some pain. I managed to play it off and walk normally while inside the Thunderdome. Er… I mean the Velodrome. But as soon as those double doors closed behind me, it was like “OOOOOOW, ow, ow, ow, ow!” It seemed to take forever to get up those stairs, shuffle out to my car, grab the movie, and shuffle back inside and down the stairs.

(FYI: going down the stairs actually hurts waaaaay more than going up them. That was a nasty little surprise.)

I handed the DVD to Jeri-Faye. She wanted to watch the movie too, and I told her she absolutely should. I think they should pass it around and all the Laker Girls should watch it. If for no other reason than to see their director Lisa Estrada, in the role of “Beth” the choreographer. Tee hee.

I made it back inside just in time for the final cut. All of the veterans made it. A couple of my other favorites also made it. All in all, 30 girls were left standing. I had them all gather together for another group photo, and then it was time to go.


Day 1 was over.


Candidate interviews were scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, leading up to Wednesday’s finals. (I’ll tell you about finals in a few days.)

Incidentally, for those who care, that night my ankle blew up to the size of a small grapefruit. I couldn’t walk on it at all, but I needed an ice pack and some Advil in the worst way so I had to find a way to get to the kitchen. Unfortunately, my knees were horribly bruised too, so I couldn’t even crawl there. I wound up using my vacuum cleaner as a crutch. (By the way, I do NOT recommend that, as most vacuum cleaners have wheels on the bottom and sometimes move when you do not expect them to.)


Stupid Velodrome.

Read on…


Congratulations 2009 ChivaGirls!

After rigorous auditions last week, Chivas USA has selected the 2009 ChivaGirls. I was there and will give you the whole scoop on what went down. But in the meantime, here are the ChivaGirls! (Also, make sure to check out the video above, and tons of photos from the audition.)


Row 1: Alheli, Amy, Ariel, Ashley, and Dalila
Row 2: Emi, Jebbell, Kelley, and Laura
Row 3: Mandi, Marie, Megan, and Monique
Row 3: Nicole, Sandra, Serena, and Tiffany