Click here to check out individual profiles for the 2014 Philadelphia Soul dance team, the Soulmates!
Click here to check out individual profiles for the 2014 Philadelphia Soul dance team, the Soulmates!
Here’s a shot of LAKDs Natllely, Kaley, Vanessa, Alexis, and Jules with team owner/Kiss guitarist Paul Stanley. This is the first time we’re seeing them in uniform. I hear through the grapevine that Paul designed some of the dance team costumes. I wonder if this is one of them?
BY IAN WHEELER / STAFF WRITER
IRVINE – When the judges asked for sass, sex appeal and killer dance moves during tryouts for the dance team of the Los Angeles Kiss football team, they did not know auditionees would offer much more.
“The talent level of these girls was over and above what I would have expected,” said dance director Brandy Bouchy. “They were all insanely talented and beautiful.”
About 37 women from around Southern California converged on Saturday at the Velocity Sports Performance training center in Irvine and were tested on a routine by choreographer LeighAnn Macias for several hours. Eighteen survived Saturday’s round and moved on to a final round Sunday.
Bouchy said she first hoped to add seven dancers to a group of nine chosen in a round of auditions last month, but ended up choosing 13 dancers on Sunday.
She said each of the final 13 dancers had an extra “it” factor that set them apart.
“It ranged from incredible dance skills, to tumbling, to a sexy confidence,” Bouchy said. “This is not going to be a cookie-cutter team. All are unique and different.”
“We hired a talented, sexy, edgy, rock ‘n’ roll team of dancers,” she said.
LA Kiss officials on Sunday released only the first names of the dancers chosen for the team.
Bouchy said rehearsals would most likely start next week. After that, she said the team has training camp and a photo shoot, among other activities in preparation for the team’s first performance on April 5 at Kiss’s first home game of the season.
The Los Angeles Kiss is an Anaheim-based Arena Football League team that will kick off its first season in March.
The tryouts were filmed on camera – its footage may be added to a reality show about all things LA Kiss. A 10-episode first season was recently given the green light by AMC.The Los Angeles Kiss, based at the Honda Center, is owned by Kiss rock band members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley; their manager, Doc McGhee; and veteran league executive Brett Bouchy.
Last weekend I sat in on auditions for the inaugural dance team for LA KISS, one of two new franchises in the Arena Football League. The team is owned by two members of the band KISS (Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley), as well as their manager Doc McGhee, and Brett Bouchy, former managing partner of the Orlando Predators. Gene and Paul have been out and about in the media, talking about the return of professional football to Los Angeles. They’ve promised the upcoming season will include great football, affordable family entertainment and lots of KISS-style razzle dazzle for the fans.
When it comes to the dance team, Paul has said they are looking for something very different from the rest of the league. Throughout the league, the ideal is “girl next door” with a little bit of sexy rolled in there. But for LA KISS, they want edgy, they want sexy. They don’t want kicklines, poms, and peppy choreography. My curiosity was peaked. I just had to see what this is all about. The team had one round of auditions last month, where the field of candidates was whittled down to 11 for the team. However, the goal was to field a team of approximately 20 dancers, so a second audition was scheduled for February. I didn’t go to the January audition, but I was able to sit in on the February tryouts.
The audition took place in Irvine, which is about 30 miles south of Los Angeles. The venue is a place called Velocity Sports. It’s a place where athletes go to train. Half of the room is weights and cardio equipment. The other half looks like a mini football field. It looks a bit like turf, but it’s some sort of composite mat, so it’s not hard to do turns and such. I must say, however, the first time all the ladies sunk down into the splits, the shhhhhh of all those nylon tights sliding against the mat sounded like the worst rug burn ever.
The auditions followed the same process as the previous month. Choreographer LeighAnn Macias taught two different combinations, with a cut after each. LeighAnn, a former Laker Girl and Denver Broncos Cheerleader, was uniquely suited to this gig, as she currently works as a choreographer, performance director, and instructor with her finger on the pulse when it comes to “hip hop in heels.” Check out this video from her group The Ultimate Squad. This, I believe, is the vibe they are going for with the LA KISS dancers.
The dancers were a mixed bag of talent and experience. Some with professional experience and some fresh off of the high school dance team.
This here lady was in a class by herself.
Gave me her card. Said her name is “Marilyn Monrovia.” Said she’d been in a movie with Gene Simmons. Said she’d been a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. None of that was true. What is true is that boa was the worst idea ever. Even though she took it off before she started dancing, bits of it stuck to her and she molted her way all the way through to the first cut.
One interesting thing about the February audition was that four dancers who had already been selected to the team in January went through the process again in February. I thought at first they were there to help teach the dances, but they had numbers and they got in line like everyone else. I didn’t want to be nosy and ask a lot of questions, but I was puzzled. The same combinations were taught for both auditions, so those four already had them down pat.
Alexis, Caroline, Natllely, and Vanessa were selected to the team in January.
Here are some of the candidates doing LeighAnn’s two dances. Definitely on the edge. Very different stylistically from what you’d see at an NFL or NBA game. Or at any AFL game. Until now, that is. (wink wink)
No. You’ve never heard either of these songs before. There’s a bit of a story there. The team recently signed a deal with AMC to produce a reality show about the making of LA KISS. Of course, the production will include some coverage of the dance team. However, because the dance auditions were going to be filmed, they could only use music they could get clearances for. They only gave LeighAnn a short list of songs to choose from, so that is how they wound up with these two songs. The first one…I have no clue. Something about “my love is like the rising sun.” The second one is about driving around with city boys vs country boys and how country men have much more “under the hood” than men from the big city. Ahem. If you thought you heard the song end with “The bigger the truck, the sweeter the ride” you were correct. Hey hey.
I had expected rock and roll. This was not rock and roll, but it was entertaining. I never found out why they didn’t use KISS music for the tryouts.
The judges were LeighAnn, LA KISS dance team director Brandy Daimwood-Bouchy, and Lindsay Rodolico, Director of the LA KISS junior dance team (which was selected earlier in the day.) Both Brandy and Lindsay are AFL dance team alumni. Brandy used to dance for the Orlando Predators (and was also an Orlando Magic dancer.) Lindsay is also an alum of the Philadelphia Soul’s Soulmate dance team. Sidebar: Brandy and LeighAnn are shorties, so Lindsay shrunk herself down for this photo.
Before the audition began, there were a bunch of guys using the weight equipment on the far side of the room. When the audition started, one by one, they abandoned their workouts to watch the audition. By the time we were half an hour into it, they were all sitting on the edge of the mat, comfortable as you please, not even ten feet from the dancers. It was disconcerting for me, and I wasn’t the one dancing around half nekkid.
One girl fell in the middle of the combination and wiping out right in front of those guys added an extra layer of mortification. She was almost in tears. I had a chat with one of the guys, who was all “well, they have to get used to people watching.” Dude. This is SO not the same thing. There is a huge difference between a performance in front of thousands who are there to be entertained, and an evaluation in front of three judges, plus a dozen random dudes who are openly gawking at you, and are close enough to count your freckles. It is NOT the same thing at all.
If I’d had my druthers, I would’ve booted them out.
By the end of the open call, the group of dancers was narrowed down to 18 to proceed to finals. Before the dancers were excused, Brandy gathered them around and gave out a few notes about attire and makeup. (Less of of the former, more of the latter, HA!) Although there wasn’t much time between prelims and finals (less than 24 hours), some of the dancers needed to get a little color, get some lashes, and ditch the chunky heels. This team is going to be sexy, so the dancers who hadn’t received that memo needed to dial it up a few notches.
Some of them, several notches.
Sidebar: A few pieces of advice occurred to me while watching the auditions.
(2) You know how they say you should test run your outfit before auditions? Put it on and jump up and down. Do a few stretches. Jog in place. To that list I’m adding “lay down on the floor.” During the KISS audition, the dancers had to get down on the ground. Several girls were wearing bra tops with molded cups, and when they were lying down on their backs…oh dear. Now let’s be honest, ladies, ok? We all know that when you lay back, the girls can flatten out. They don’t always stay where you want them to, and if they choose to travel, your bra cups may or may not go along for the ride. I think you all understand what I’m saying, yes? So when you get your new audition outfit, lay down on your back and make sure you have nothing to worry about. Roll over a few times. Do a few back bends and check out your situation. I’m telling you this as a friend, and as a photographer who got an unexpected eyeful when looking through her audition photos.
I had to delete several photos of girls in these two positions.
Finals were the next day (Sunday). Interviews started at 12, and the dance portion started around 2pm. The first thing I noticed was that a lot of the ladies were wearing different outfits. Smaller outfits, LOL. Clearly they’d heeded Brandy’s advice on their attire.
Natllelly, one of the January girls ditched her pink sports bra and upped her game with this bright blue number.
The second thing I noticed was that more of the ladies from the January audition had showed up. Apparently they were going to go through finals, along with the four from the previous day. Maybe the judges wanted to see them all dance together after they had chosen the new girls?
For those keeping score at home, 11 were selected in January and eight where going through finals again. One was out of town. One had dropped out, and one had broken her foot. I think she’s expected to heal up in time for the season, so I think she’s still on the team. I don’t know for sure.
When I got there, the judges were off doing interviews. Since it was just me and the dancers, I took the opportunity to suggest that if they wanted to actually SMILE while they were dancing, that would be totally ok with me. Was it my place to say it? No. But I’d spent the previous day watching them do the “sexy beast” thing and wound up with over 700 photos of girls snarling and doing sexyface, which doesn’t photograph well. Except for Alexis. Alexis, was a trip. Throughout the whole entire audition, she had this total “WOOHOO!” attitude that was freaking awesome.
She definitely needed that attitude on Sunday, because let me tell you, finals were ROUGH.
On Sunday, Lindsay was absent and LA KISS President Schuyler Hoversten was judging.
They had all the girls do the first routine in groups of three.
After the last group finished, the judges were not happy. The gist of the conversation was “what the HELL was that?” (I’m paraphrasing.) The overall feeling was as a group, the dancers hadn’t served it up. They weren’t dancing full out. They weren’t performing. They were forgetting the moves. Dancers who had stood out the day before had lost their spark.
After conferring for a few minutes the judges decided to pull the dancers back in and make every single one of them do the combination over again. Oh snap! But I guess they rose to the occasion because after they finished, the judges let them go change their shoes for the second combination.
The second combination is the easier of the two, but it’s the one they had to do in heels. After the previous day’s notes, several off the girls had elected to bring different shoes than the ones they’d danced in on Saturday. This created another problem. Although the shoes gave the dancers the right look, it made the dancing much more difficult for them. Four inch heels are no joke. It was obvious that some of them were dancing very…carefully. However, that caution hindered them and kept them from dancing full out. I think the judges understood that, but they weren’t happy about it.
But not all the ladies had a problem with the heels.
After the last group had gone, the judges deliberated. And deliberated. And deliberated. At some point they decided they weren’t going to choose 20. So then they had to decide how many. 18? 16? 12? And which ones. They really struggled over that, and ultimately decided they needed to see more dancing. They called all the ladies in and started mixing and matching them in different combinations.
They had to do the combination over and over and over again, until the judges started to like the combination they’d come up with. A few of the girls had to do the combination ten or twelve times, and because they knew this was IT, this was make or break, they did it full out each time. I am sure they were exhausted. I was tired from watching.
Finally, the dancers were excused again. The judges were down to the last few spots on the team, and they really agonized over them. After a lot of back and forth, they arrived at the final number: 13
These 11 ladies, plus Lizzy and Tanya will take the field at Honda Center in two months, and set the place on fire! WERQ!
Auditions are over and 13 dancers have been selected to the inaugural LA KISS dance team. Congrats!
Alexis and Angela
The second open call for the LA KISS Dancers took place yesterday. Congratulations finalists! The final audition for the big wigs is this afternoon. Good luck everyone?
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