A New Orleans VooDoo Doll
The San Jose Saberkitens are under the direction of Cindy Kopacz and Michelle La Herran. The Arena Football season kicks off next month!
4th Row (Standing L-R) – Amelia H, Mikaela R, Jessie S, Mariah B, Katie B, Courtney M, Shelby S, Natalie K, Tisha B, Julia M
The final dance audition for the LA KISS Girls went down last Saturday at the Equinox Sports Club in Irvine, CA. It was the culmination of two long weeks of dancing, interviews, workouts, evaluations, and cuts. These talented ladies gave it all they had, and when all was said and done, 20 were selected for this year’s team. With a new Director/Choreographer, and a 50% bigger squad, this season promises to be bigger and better in every possible way.
As always, the waiting is the hardest part. The call time was at 3pm, but just about everyone was there by 2:30. The dancers cooled their heels in the lobby until it was time to head upstairs to the basketball gym.
When it was time, everyone headed up to the gym to check in. A few girls were assigned GINORMOUS new numbers, and they all got in line to have their photo taken by the team photographer.
Each dancer did a couple of poses, including a pretend “I made the team!!” fun pose with the “congrats” flyer the would be handed out later to the ladies selected to the squad. Better to take these photos beforehand (while everyone’s hair and makeup was still on point) than wait until the team was announced. (I believe the photos of the chosen ones will be posted on the LAK website/facebook/instagram at some point)
When the judges were assembled and it was time to begin, Lindsay started off by thanking everyone for investing their time and energy in this process. She also asked everyone to take a moment to acknowledge the hard work they’d done to get to finals.
Then she introduced the judges and announced that unfortunately there had been a last minute change of plans. Paul Stanley (member of the rock band KISS and one of the LA KISS owners) would not be present to judge the audition. Paul has always had a marked interest in the dance team, and has taken a significant role in shaping the KISS Girls image, from designing their costumes to directing their photo shoots. It was a little sad that he couldn’t be there, but Lindsay explained that he would still be part of the judging process. Cody Jones, the team’s social media guru would be in contact with Paul throughout the performances, sending him photos and information, and Paul would participate in the judges deliberations via telephone. Sort of like Charlie screening Angel candidates from afar. Not physically present, but still a big part of the decision-making.
Once all the intros were taken care of, it was time to dance! The actual audition itself went by very quickly. The ladies lined up in numerical order and performed for the judges in groups of three.
When everyone had had a turn, the dancers lined up again and each group performed a second time. This gave everyone a much needed breather between turns. This was a pretty long dance, as far as these kinds of auditions go. I clocked it at about 90 seconds.
After performing in groups, the judges called the dancers out randomly to perform a third time. Some danced pairs, others in groups of three or four.
Mina and Alexis both had to dance alone. No pressure!
Once the judges agreed that they had seen everything they needed to see, Lindsay called all of the finalists out onto the floor for one last dance, just for the heck of it.
After that, the judges took off for about an hour to discuss the candidates. When they returned, Lindsay announced the numbers of the ladies who had been selected:
88: Christina (rookie)
Both Ellie and Dani auditioned last year, and didn’t make it. They came back strong this year, and really impressed the judges. You gotta love a well-earned comeback.
As the numbers were called, Cody handed each dancer the congrats flyer and LA KISS Defensive Back Romeo Pellum offered her a sparkling rose. It was a moment right out of “The Bachelor” although thankfully he did NOT ask each of them “Will you accept this rose?”
And when Lindsay was finished announcing the team, he offered her a rose too. Awwww…that was just sweet.
Then the 2015 LA KISS Girls danced together as a team for the very first time.
Followed by lots of photos, lots of hugs, and lots of WOO-HOOing! Congratulations ladies!
The other day I gave you the skinny what happened at boot camp. Now, as promised, here’s the photo gallery. Click here to check it out!
The last time we saw our aspiring LA KISS Girls, they were headed out of Equinox Irvine. As they made their way back to their vehicles, some slumped in defeat, while others felt renewed determination to make the team.
On Sunday, the finalists reconvened for the next step in the process: boot camp. Never having been to one of these before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. All I knew was that there would be a workout and more dancing, and it would take a couple of hours.
The first thing I learned that day was that Lindsay was injured. She had sustained a couple of gnarly looking curling iron burns that morning and could not get over how much they hurt. Curling irons and flat irons can get to upwards of 400 degrees, and they can do some real damage. Lindsay’s burns had already started turning lots of interesting colors. Nevertheless, she was determined to soldier on. Beauty is pain y’all. Dab some ointment on that bad boy and let’s keep it moving.
The second thing I learned was that the original group of finalists from the Jan 17th audition would be joined by several dancers who had attended a second open call on the 24th and made it through to finals.
Now there were almost 40 finalists all told, and as I looked around the room, it was obvious that no few of them had taken Lindsay’s advice to make themselves look a bit more KISS-able. (See what I did there?) Quite a few had changed their hair and makeup, and many had changed outfits. In most cases, it was an improvement.
A few of them later learned (the hard way) that there is a reason for the old advice to test drive your audition outfit (both the top AND the bottom) ahead of time. Especially if you’re wearing something that’s not meant for vigorous activity. I beg you, ladies. Dance. Roll around on the floor, jog in place. Do a 2 minute plank test. Make sure everything you wear to an audition will stay intact and on your body through the entire process.
[/end public service announcement]
Half of last year’s KGs were also in the mix, ready to fight to win their uniforms back. Five of the six had assisted at the open call: Julianne, Alexis, Xandi, Sheldon, and Niaps (pronounced NAPE-iss.) Vanessa, a sixth KISS Girl who had been a the open call chose not to re-audition. But the good news is, Jules from last year was there to audition for a second season on the team.
Most of the ladies arrived well in advance of the noon call time, expecting to go through a short workout and then learn the rest of the choreography for the finals dance. They had no idea a twist was coming. (Mwahahaha…..)
They got started promptly at noon, starting with a workout guided by the team’s new trainer, Jada. She put them through their paces, with walking lunges, squats, jogging, pushups, planking, burpees*, and other moves I don’t even know the names of.
*Burpees are from the devil. FACT.
The workout was only about half an hour. I thought it went by fast, but then again, I wasn’t the one planking in full hair and makeup and combat boots. I’m sure it felt endless for all the ladies, but Lindsay reminded them why they are doing this. This team’s dances are difficult and their outfits are tiny. Maintaining yourself in tip top shape is absolutely a job requirement.
The ladies were looking pretty run down at the end of the workout. Everybody was a sweaty mess, and ready to fall out on the floor. But there was no time for lollygagging while there was more choreography to be learned. So after a short break to blot their faces and wring out their hair, it was time to dance.
The first order of business was to review and clean the choreography they’d learned at the open calls.
They spent about 20 minutes cleaning the old stuff, with Lindsay reminding everyone not to put a whole lotta “extra” in the dance. Just do the moves as they were taught, and do them cleanly, so the judges can see what they are looking for. (In other words, save the flava for your solo, sweetie.)
Then they moved on to the new choreography. As I mentioned last time, the original combination repeated almost entirely from the beginning. This time, they took out the repeat, and that’s where the new moves came in.
Lindsay explained she was going to teach very fast…and she did. I suppose if I were one of the dancers, I would’ve wondered what the rush was. After all, they’d only been there for an hour. It seemed like there would be plenty of time to learn the rest. In retrospect, they probably should’ve realized what was coming….(insert ominous soundtrack. Duhn duhn duhnnnn…..)
Anybody who thought this was going to be a piece of cake was quickly disabused of that notion. They’d had more than an hour to learn and rehearse the choreography last week. This time, they had less than 30 minutes to absorb and perfect the same amount of material. There’s something happening on every count, and the music is fast.
It doesn’t seem like it ought to be possible to get your body to do so many different things, in so many different directions, in so few counts. Particularly when it involves the splits, and a “Flashdance” moment like this one.
But most of the dancers rose to the occasion.
Somewhere along the way, we learned that Lindsay is a lefty. This was not happy news for the dancers. From what I have observed, most dancers are stronger on their right side than on their left. Right splits are easier. Right kicks are higher. Right turns are more balanced. But a lefty choreographer often means lefty splits, lefty kicks, and lefty turns.
At one point in the new choreography, the dancers have to slide down into the splits. Most of them automatically sank to the floor with their right leg in front.
When one girl asked for clarification and Lindsay explained that it was actually a left split, there was a collective groan. (This is probably what lefties feel like all the time. And that may explain why Lindsay didn’t look even a little bit sorry. Lefty revenge!)
It didn’t really phase the veterans though, as last year’s choreographer had also been a lefty.
A little bit after 1 pm, the door opened and a couple of familiar faces walked in. It was Brian Olea and Raquel Pomplun, the hosts of Playboy Radio’s Mansion Mayhem. Hey, weren’t they judges last weekend? Then another judge arrived. And another.
And this is how they found out there was going to be another cut. Aw hell.
It’s a wonder anyone could concentrate after that. I think most of the ladies thought they were going to have plenty of time to go home and rehearse rehearse rehearse before the next cut.
It was deja vu all over again as the dancers were asked to line up in numerical order and perform for the judges in groups of three.
There was also an additional curve ball as the dancers were asked to introduce themselves and share an interesting fact about themselves. Oh the poor things. They were not prepared. Of all the things running through your head when you’re standing in front of a panel of judges “what’s interesting about me?” isn’t one of them. It threw almost everyone for a loop.
There were some interesting answers. We learned that Abby is from Michigan, Emily is married, Melanie is planning to pursue a PhD, Alexis One is from Denver and Alexis Two was born on April Fools Day. Tara One is a Disney Princess (she plays Ariel and Cinderella at Disneyland). Tara Two had six wisdom teeth. Camille sings opera and was one of the LA KISS go-go dancers last season. Christina has an irrational fear of geese. (And gooses.) Ivanna is from Russia and just got her US Citizenship. Jackie knows how to set her entire body on fire. (Safely, I assume, based on the lack of visible scarring.)
I also think maybe Lindsay could benefit from some of Jackie’s tips on burn treatment and prevention.
After that initial moment of awkwardness, most of the ladies really served it up.
(Sidebar: I bet I got at least some of the names wrong. Apologies, ladies.)
Three by three by three they each took a turn in front of the judges. This time, only a couple of the groups had to go twice. One time was because of me. (I’m sorry, ok? I thought I was helping by volunteering to run the music, but Lindsay’s phone and I did not get along.) Anyway, after that, I got the hell out of the way and let Lindsay handle the music.
As for the judges, this time they were looking for performance and the right energy. They weren’t looking for perfect execution. (Perfection doesn’t exist when you’ve got 25 minutes to learn a dance.) They were just looking for “IT.” Who draws your eye? Who is fun to watch? Who looks like a KISS girl? That’s important, because these dancers don’t just represent LA KISS, they also represent KISS the rock band, and that takes this situation to a whole ‘nother level.
After the dancing, the judges went off somewhere to deliberate. I used the time to look around the room, look through my photos, and try to predict which ladies I think will be chosen. It’s always fun to imagine who will be part of the veteran huddle this time next year. I’m hoping all of the veterans make it back. Aside from them, I have four women I think are definitely in, and another four or five I’m not sure about, but I’m rooting for.
Speaking of veterans, I had a little chit chat with a few of the girls while we were waiting. We reminisced about last year’s audition, which was a totally different experience. This year’s tryout is a much longer process, but is in some ways easier than it was last time around. Last year the ladies had to learn two different combinations, and perform one of them in 4 inch heels. On artificial turf!
This year the dancers got to wear flat shoes and dance on springy wooden floors. They don’t know how lucky they are. I asked the girls if they thought they could do this year’s combination in heels. They all said of course (of course). “Put everyone in heels” one of them said “and that’ll show you your team.” I think she may be right. It’s a bit late in the process to do that now, but it would’ve been an interesting exercise to see who could maintain their level of performance, and who would wobble like Bambi on ice skates. But maybe the girls won’t be dancing in heels this year, and it’s a moot point.
When the judges returned, 45 minutes later, they wasted no time in cutting the group down to 26 finalists. For real this time. (I know everyone thought they were walking in the door a finalist, but not everyone left as one.)
All of last year’s veterans made it through. Yay!
I’m not sure how many Lindsay will take for the team. I don’t think they have a set number in mind. I’m guessing it will be around 15. I’m usually wrong about these things though. (I have the exact opposite of ESP. Whatever that’s called.)
The final audition is Saturday afternoon. The ladies have a few days to get as ready as they can possibly get. For sure there will not be 26 women on this team, so they’d all better bring their A game to finals. I strongly suspect the team president and at least one of the owners (*cough*Paul Stanley*cough*) will be judging on Saturday, so there’s an extra level of pressure there. All of the ladies on last year’s team were professional dancers. That’s where the bar is, and the LA KISS organization has no intention of lowering their standards. Those two guys expect – no demand – perfection. They are looking for women who are fierce dancers and confident performers. Women who look like they could walk right out on the field with these ladies:
The ones who make the team will be the ones who show up at finals already looking and acting the part. They’ll only have a couple of minutes to show what they can do.
So who’s it going to be? We’ll find out on Saturday…
(More photos to come in a few days)
Auditions for the 2015 LA KISS Girls kicked off over the weekend in Irvine, CA. It was the first day in a four part audition process that includes an open call, panel interviews, finalist bootcamp, and a final dance audition.
It was obvious from the word go that this ain’t your momma’s dance team. Usually when I walk into a pro dance team audition, it’s all candy-colored track suits, Swarovski crystals, and long flowing hair extensions. Not here. Here the ladies were dressed in black, with metal studs, edgy hair, and lots of ink. We ain’t in Kansas anymore.
Outside in the corrider, six members of last year’s team, Vanessa, Alexis, Xandi, Julianne, Sheldon, and Niaps were on hand to greet people at the door and direct them into the audition. These six (and perhaps a few others from last year’s squad) will join the audition process at finals, in hopes of keeping their spots on the team.
Before the audition started, I had a chance to say hello to the new KISS Girls Director/Choreographer Lindsay Rodolico.
First impression: enormous blue eyes, big bright smile, and tons of positive energy. Warm and friendly, but make no mistake, this one takes care of bizness.
While all of the dancers were filling out their applications, I eyeballed the group to see if I recognized anyone from last year’s audition.
I saw at least four or five that I recognized.
But THIS was someone I’d never seen before. Six feet tall. Flaming red hair. “Big Red” is her handle, and you couldn’t possibly miss her. I bet that hair glows in the dark.
I am in awe of that hair. That takes guts. I could never pull that off, but she totally owns it. (She did admit, however, that the maintenance is a nightmare.)
I also noticed this lady. Isabella, the only one who auditioned in a KISS shirt. Smart! In retrospect, I’m shocked that nobody else thought of this. Especially since they had no idea whether the members of KISS would be present.
There was also a dancer from last year who I did not recognize at all. And can you blame me? Last year Ellie wore pink. This year, she didn’t even look like a distant relative of the girl I remember.
If not for the Aussie accent (she’s from Perth), I never would’ve realized it. When I asked her about it, she said her overall look last year was “orange.” Hence, the makeover. LOL.
When it was time for the audition to begin, Lindsay gathered everyone together to explain how the audition would work. The dancers would be taught a combination, which would then be performed for a panel of judges in groups of three. At the end of the day, finalists would be announced, and those chosen would move on to the next phase in the process. Simple enough, right?
She also introduced last year’s KISS Girls and said that they were an example of what the organization is looking for. She also explained that the members of last year’s team only had an advantage until the end of the day. Once the open call was over, the dancers had to turn in their costumes, and from that point on, they were the same as every other finalist.
And then it was time to get started. The dancers spread out on the floor and Lindsay began teaching the first eight-counts.
It was a little nerve-wracking for the dancers, as tons of gym-goers were loitering around, openly staring through the windows.
Lindsay has a very fun, relaxed teaching style, and the dance was just right for the occasion. Challenging but not too hard. Fun, and full of attitude, although Lindsay did have to warn them not to go too far over the top with the sexy. Some (relatively few) women can successfully pull off the sexy/sultry thing when they dance. Everyone else should just stick to a pretty smile because – it has to be said – what they think is a sexy face, looks more like stankface.
The music was “The Beautiful People” which samples Marilyn Manson, with a hard, driving beat that is enough to get anyone’s blood pumping. The combination had break for a tiny solo in the middle, before repeating the from the beginning. The dancers would essentially have a chance to do the combination twice. Lindsay explained that this was by design. She and the judges want to see the ladies dance as much as possible, to get a good read on their abilities.
I particularly enjoyed the hair whipping about 35 seconds in. I find myself doing this move at random moments throughout the day. Very awkward when I’m at the office, where we generally don’t see much stomping and head banging.
After about an hour of learning the choreography, it was time for the audition to begin. Lindsay left the music on repeat for the dancers while she gathered the judges around to talk about what they were looking for and how to score the dancers.
The judges were an eclectic group, each one more accomplished than the next. The panel included a professional dancer/choreographer with a resume as long as my arm (Diddy, Rihanna, BEP, Katy Perry, Pussycat Dolls, Romeo, Snoop, and on and on), radio hosts from Playboy Radio (they broadcast from the concourse at home games), the General Manager of the fitness club hosting the auditions, and representatives from the LA KISS organization, including a wide receiver, the social media director, and the team president.
Personally, the judge I was most excited about was Bonnie-Jill Laflin (in orange above). Bonnie-Jill is a reporter for Fox Sports. Before that, she was a scout for the Lakers. Before that she was a cheerleader for the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys. She’s also a huge advocate for animal welfare and for our armed services. I’ve seen her everywhere for years, and had no idea she was a close friend of Lindsay’s. So it was a chance to say hello to someone I’ve admired for ages.
Once the judges were assembled, last year’s KISS Girls took the floor to dance together for the last time as members of the 2014 team. #bittersweet.
No pressure, right?
The ladies auditioned in groups of three. Some groups were asked to do the combination a second time. My theory on this is in some cases, it was because they’d completely screwed up and Lindsay was giving them another chance. But in other cases, there was one dancer who did such a great job, the group needed to go again so the judges could pay attention to the other two ladies in the group.
About half of the groups had performed when team President Schuyler Hoversten did something I’ve never seen before at an audition. He pointed at one dancer and said the group had to do the combination again because she’d completely screwed up the whole thing. OUCH! I am sure she was mortified. After the group did the combination, Schuyler called a halt to the proceedings to remind everyone what they were here for. The KISS Girls are the best. They aren’t like any other dance team. They go hard. They have attitude. Their dances are challenging. And they know the frikkin choreography!
Ok, he didn’t say that last bit, but that’s what he meant, and we all knew it.
On the one hand, I couldn’t blame the guy. It’s extremely frustrating to watch one lukewarm performance after another. It’s boring, and as a judge you feel like their time is being wasted. You’re trying to do something great here, and it’s annoying when the dancers don’t deliver. On the other hand, a lot of girls audition for a pro dance team just for the experience of doing it. They aren’t professionals, they aren’t used to learning choreography so quickly, and the whole experience is stressful. Stressful and very very scary. But after Schuyler read the whole room, they knew they needed to get it together. Immediately, if not sooner. Because the reality is this: LA KISS would rather have NO dancers than mediocre ones.
Well ok then.
Lindsay had the six KISS Girls come out and do the dance again. Think of it as sort of a palate-cleanser. A way to hit everyone’s mental “reset” button on this process.
And we’re back…And many of the dancers visibly upped their game.
After the dancing was done, the judges went off to deliberate. When they returned, Lindsay announced the 27 finalists.
She congratulated everyone and explained the next steps in the process.The purpose of the interview is to get to know each dancer. The purpose of bootcamp is to learn the rest of the choreography, see how these ladies work, and see if they can look fabulous while doing it. The purpose of finals is to blow. the judges. away.
Then she served up some audition realness.
Dancers were expected to show up looking and acting the part at every stage of this process. From now on, they are representing the team, and need to comport themselves accordingly. They would be provided with tips and tools for how to do this, but it’s up to them to take advantage of that. She also mentioned that dancers could be cut at any point between now and finals. Dancers would be excused for having shady crap on facebook and instagram. And – this was interesting – Lindsay would likely be doing an additional invitation-only open call, so there might be some new faces at finals. (So don’t be giving the new girls the side-eye, all “Who is SHE???”, okay?)
The competition is just beginning.
So by now the dancers have been through interviews, and bootcamp is next on the agenda. What new faces will be in the mix? Will any of the other veterans audition? Who will ultimately be chosen for the squad? Patience, my friends. All will soon be revealed…
In the meantime, click here for more photos from the open call.
The New Orleans VooDoo packed the legendary Hard Rock Café on Saturday afternoon for the 2015 New Orleans VooDoo Doll Finals. Hundreds of patrons were in attendance to see the VooDoo finalists compete for a spot as a 2015 VooDoo Doll.
The franchise is very pleased to announce that 20 young ladies have been selected to represent the franchise for the 2015 season as VooDoo Dolls.
“I’m so thrilled for the amount of talent and beauty we have on the team,” said VooDoo Doll Director Bridget Cordes. “These ladies worked so hard for a spot, and I couldn’t be more proud of each and every one of them.”
“Throughout these last two weeks the finalists really showed some amazing talent and personality,” said VooDoo Doll Director Brittany (B-Dub) Warden. “It was extremely difficult picking just 20 girls, but I am so proud of our 2015 VooDoo Dolls.”
The New Orleans VooDoo welcomes back 12 VooDoo Doll veterans, having danced for the team last year or in year’s prior.
The 2015 VooDoo Doll Dance Team is listed below:
The Tampa Bay Storm is pleased to announce the members of the 2015 Cheerleader Squad.
“We are looking forward to getting to work and preparing for the upcoming season,” said Tampa Bay Storm Director of Cheerleaders Kindra Strocher-Ebanks. “We had an excellent group of ladies tryout for the team which made it tough for us to narrow down to the final 15. However, we are confident that we selected a group that will make the fans, and the Tampa Bay community, proud.”
Storm Cheerleaders perform at all home games and dedicate two evenings a week to practice. However, while they may be cheerleaders, they also act as ambassadors in the community. The cheerleaders visit hospitals, food banks, community centers and the armed forces, in addition to participating in many other programs and charities that help benefit the Tampa Bay community.
The 15-member squad is comprised of eight returning veterans and seven rookies.
Here are the 2015 Storm Cheerleaders:
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