Cavalier Girl: Elbridge Woman Makes Cleveland NBA Team’s Dance Team

By David Wilcox
AuburnPub.com
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Emily Schwarting was sitting with her parents in their Elbridge home one Sunday morning this summer, waiting for a phone call.

Schwarting had graduated from Mercyhurst University in May. But when that phone call came, her father said, she was a teenage girl all over again.

“She just couldn’t sit still,” said her father, David. “All excited and shaking.”

The call came from the Cleveland Cavaliers, who told Schwarting that she had been selected to join the NBA team’s Cavalier Girls dance squad. Out of 130 women who took part in the weeklong audition, she was one of 20 who made the cut.

“I put my whole heart into wanting to be on this team,” Schwarting said in a Thursday phone interview. “It’s one of the best phone calls I’ve ever received.”

A lifetime of dance led Schwarting to the high-profile spot. She began her craft at the Center of Ballet and Dance Arts in Syracuse when she was 5, under the instruction of Deborah Boughton. Every day after school, Schwarting said, she’d be in the car by 5 p.m. for a few hours of instruction in pointe, ballet, tap and other styles. She saw herself following in the graceful footsteps of her cousin, Broadway performer Bradley Benjamin, of Skaneateles.

Going to school at Jordan-Elbridge, Schwarting would also cheerlead in middle school and play lacrosse. By the time she was in 10th grade, though, dance was all Emily had time for, David said.

“That was her love and her passion,” he said. “If she had a dance class Friday night, she wouldn’t go to the football game or the school dance.”

As Schwarting transitioned from Jordan-Elbridge to Mercyhurst in 2011, that passion withstood a pair of setbacks. The first was her Syracuse dance school’s closure in the spring of her senior year. Instead of staging their grand finale in an auditorium, Schwarting and her fellow dancers gave a hastily scheduled one at the school, David said.

The second setback came at Mercyhurst, where Schwarting landed badly after a jump, spraining her ACL and MCL and tearing her medial meniscus. She wasn’t sure she’d ever dance again, she said.

“I looked at the people around me and saw how many of them have fought through injury,” she said. “So I trained hard to get back to where I was, and it made me a better, stronger, smarter dancer.”

After Schwarting came back, she made a contact through the Mercyhurst dance program that’d set her Cavalier Girls gig in motion: Holly Anderson, coach of the dance team for NBA Development League team the Erie BayHawks. Until 2011, the team was affiliated with the Cavaliers.

Schwarting danced with the team from 2013 to 2015, adding commercial styles like hip-hop and jazz to her repertoire of concert styles. When Schwarting graduated from Mercyhurst, Anderson made her former dancer aware of the opportunity with the 2015 NBA Finalists.

“She was the one who pushed me to go further in that style,” Schwarting said. “And I had kept going west. So I thought, why not try Cleveland, Ohio?”

So far, since making the squad, Schwarting has performed with the Cavaliers for a few preseason games ahead of their Oct. 29 home opener. (The Cavalier Girls don’t travel with the team.)

Ever committed to getting better, Schwarting splits her time between the Cavalier Girls and the Dancing Wheels Company & School, which teaches the art to people with disabilities. She balances that continued practice of concert dance with prioritizing entertainment on the Quicken Loans Arena court.

“The big thing is having a smile on your face,” she said.

Schwarting hasn’t had the opportunity to meet Cavaliers star and the team’s all-time leading scorer, LeBron James, as the NBA has a no-fraternization policy, she said. However, she’s already received a warm welcome from the team’s fans at preseason games and other public appearances, she said.

“It makes you feel like you’re a mini-superstar,” she said.

“I had a father at a game the other day and he came up to me and said, ‘I’m only here because my daughter wants to watch you perform. Thanks for giving her that inspiration,'” she continued. “It takes you a step back to realize that it’s not just about basketball.”

Cavalier Girls Photo Shoot

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Go behind the scenes at the Cleveland Cavailer Girls photo shoot.

Cavalier Girl: Neshannock resident realizes dance dream in Cleveland

Constance Richards
By Andrew Koob
New Castle News
August 29, 2015

Constance Richards took her time to try out for the Cleveland Cavaliers dance team.

It always was a dream of the Neshannock High graduate to be a Cavalier girl, but her work as a student and cheerleader at Kent State University took top priority.

It wasn’t until after Richards graduated in May from Kent State with a bachelor’s degree in marketing that she finally pushed herself to audition.

“I had thought about it for years to audition,” Richards said. “I kept putting it back, saying ‘maybe I’ll do it.’ After graduation, I didn’t know what I was doing yet and Cleveland was definitely on my top places of where I’d like to move. This was a dream of mine, I just went for it and tried it out.

“I’m really happy that I did.”

That dream was finally realized as Richards officially was named to the 2015-2016 Cavaliers dance team. She joins 19 other dance team members that not only entertain on the court, but serve as ambassadors of the organization off the court.

“When I first found out, I was definitely in shock,” Richards said. “I started screaming, I think I woke up everyone in my house. It was honestly just the greatest feeling. To just know that there were a lot of girls, a lot of obstacles and that they picked me, it was just a dream. To make that dream come true was truly amazing and it’s an big honor that I can call myself a Cleveland Cavalier girl.”

The elation of making the team continues to stay with the 22-year-old, but now the real work begins. The team already has started practicing for the upcoming season, including training camp this weekend, and continues to make public appearances.

A hectic schedule is perfect for someone as active as Richards, especially since a whirlwind summer that started when she received her degree.

“We’ve had a couple of practices already and had the opportunity to do an appearance in Canton, Ohio,” Richards said. “The season hasn’t started, but we have, and every week we have something different, which is cool.

“As a dancer, I don’t really believe in days off. Every day I like to do something, even if it isn’t with the team in Cleveland, I like to try to work out or something like that. We have a little bit of time before it starts, but I’m ready for it.”

After growing up in Neshannock Township and spending four years at Kent State, which has an enrollment was just under 30,000, Richards is looking to make a new life in a city with a population of almost 400,000.

It will be an adjustment, especially as she searches for a full-time job, but the allure of a big city adds a bonus to a dream position.

“Growing up in such a small town, then going to a big university and now to such a big city is really exciting,” Richards said. “I think it’s fun to come down to where you grew up, you get to see everyone and everything, but I love the feeling of a big city. There’s always something different and I love meeting new people. That’s why, to me, it’s a great job. I love to meet different people and socialize. Cleveland will be a good city for me.”

Richards, who started dancing and was a teacher at Ludovici Dance Academy, is a part of the family that has become well-known through Zambelli fireworks. And, while she’s appreciative of a name well-known throughout New Castle, Richards is ready to make her own mark.

“It’s great and I love that my family have such a great name in New Castle. But it’s exciting for me that I just graduated and I’m making a name for myself,” Richards said. “My family worked hard, but now it’s my time to work hard and make a name for myself. I’m really excited about it.”

The newest edition of the Cavs dance team will debut on Oct. 13 when the Cavaliers host the Milwaukee Bucks for the first home preseason game.

Until then, all Richards can do is dream about performing in front of thousands of Cleveland fans.

“When we had the preliminary auditions, they were in the arena. I kept thinking to myself that this could be where I’m performing. It was the most unreal feeling, that’s all you hope for as a dancer, to have that chance to perform in front of all of those people,” Richards said. “I feel like I’ll definitely have some nerves, but you have to be a little bit nervous. It’s a normal thing, but I think I’ll just be too excited. I picture it every day, performing in front of all of those people.”

2015-16 Cavalier Girls Auditions

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Cavalier Girl hopefuls went through preliminary auditions at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday, July 25th. Check out the audition gallery at Cavs.com

2015-16 Cavalier Girls Auditions to be Held at The Q

Pre-audition Workshops Begin Saturday, July 11th

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The Cleveland Cavaliers are searching for the region’s top dancers to join the popular Cavalier Girls dance team for the 2015-16 Cavs basketball season. Members of the Cavalier Girls serve as brand ambassadors for the Cavaliers organization, both on and off the court. Auditions to find the 2015-16 Cavalier Girls will take place at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday, July 25th at 12:00 p.m., with registration beginning at 11:00 a.m. Pre-registration is encouraged at Cavs.com/CavalierGirls.

Dancers will be evaluated on several criteria including energy, professionalism and dance technique. Selected finalists must be available to attend a public outing and finalist workshops that will be held on select nights between Sunday, July 26th – Friday, July 31st. For a complete list of audition requirements visit Cavs.com/CavalierGirls.

“We’re recruiting high caliber dancers who share a passion to entertain — whether it is for 20 fans in the community or for 20,562 at The Q,” said Emily Smith, Director of Cavaliers Dance and Entertainment Teams. “We’re fortunate that Ohio has so many terrific dancers and cheerleaders thanks to great college and prep programs across the Buckeye State!”

PRE-AUDITION WORKSHOPS BEGIN SATURDAY, JULY 11th

It is recommended, but not mandatory, that interested dancers participate in the Cavalier Girls pre-audition workshops to get comfortable with the look and feel of Cavalier Girls style of dance. Four workshops will be held in July prior to auditions:

Saturday, July 11, from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. at Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland
Sunday, July 12, from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. at Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland
Saturday, July 18 from 2:00-5:00 p.m. at Americheer (20 Collegeview Road, Westerville, Ohio 43081)
Sunday, July 19, from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. at Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland

Workshops give interested dancers the opportunity to learn Cavalier Girls choreography similar to what will be taught at auditions. Additionally, workshop participants will have the opportunity to have their questions answered by the directors. There is no limit on how many workshops can be attended. The cost of the workshop is $20, cash only, payable upon arrival. Visit Cavs.com/CavalierGirls for more details.

Cavalier Girls at the Cavs Fan-fest

For the fans at every home and away playoffs game, the Cleveland Cavaliers stage a fan-fest on the Gateway Plaza downtown between the city’s NBA and MLB facilities. What can be found is a construct of temporary basketball court, team entertainment stage, food trucks, sponsor tents, and jumbotrons. Whether they are en route to the stadium or want to be part of the action, thousands of NBA fans passed through to shoot a few hoops, get face-painted, grab a snack, buy some concessions or souvenirs, take a few cell-phone pictures, and watch some entertainment. Two hours before tipoff, these Cleveland Cavaliers entertainment troupes Cavaliers Girls, Cavaliers Scream Team, Q-Stix, and Spirit Squad took over the stage to put on a performance.

First, the Cavaliers Girls performed.
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And what a treat, the entire ensemble of all 17 members danced in tight formation on a small stage.


CG Alexa, CG Kelsey, and CG Erica walk through the plaza


CG Tiffany and CG Katelyn make a grand entrance


CG Kellyn waves to the crowd


CG Shannon, CG Amber, and CG Stephanie whip their hair


CG Amber performs in a solo moment


CG Stephanie rocks the beat on stage


CG Britt and CG Shannon Marie wave after the performance

Continue reading Cavalier Girls at the Cavs Fan-fest

Fans Invited to Cavalier Girls Live Audition Finale

Free event to take place at Shooters on the Water.

There’s no denying it – the ladies of Northeast Ohio can dance!

Talented women from across the region brought their best moves to wow judges at preliminary auditions for the 2014-15 Cavalier Girls dance team earlier this month. Now it’s time to find out which of the 30 finalists will “make the cut” and become one of the 18 incredible women selected for this season’s dance team! The final squad will be announced on Saturday, Aug. 9 when the Cavs host “Making the Cut: Cavalier Girls Live Audition Finale” at Shooters on the Water (1148 Main Ave., Cleveland, OH 44143). Fans are encouraged to arrive early; the fun tips-off at 7 p.m.

Leading up to the live audition finale, fans can help decide who will be on the 2014-15 Cavalier Girls squad! From now through Friday, Aug. 8, fans can view interactive profiles with bios, photos, and videos of each finalist, plus watch exclusive “Making the Cut” behind-the-scenes videos of the audition process then cast their votes for their favorite dancers at vote.cavs.com.

At the Saturday night event, the 30 finalists will have one last opportunity to leave an impression on fans and judges! The women will perform one of the team’s dazzling routines, an individual freestyle dance, and model their favorite swimwear. Fox 8 News morning show hosts Kristi Capel and Wayne Dawson will join the panel of judges as special guests.

Fans are invited to cheer on their favorite dancers and enjoy an evening of entertainment emceed by Cavs in-arena hosts Ahmaad Crump and Nicole Marcellino. After the Cavalier Girl hopefuls have hit their ultimate 8-count, they will face the moment of truth as each name is called and the 2014-15 Cavalier Girls are announced for the first time.

Join the live audition finale discussion on social media with hashtag #CGFinals and stay connected with the Cavalier Girls on Twitter (@CavalierGirls), Facebook (Cleveland Cavalier Girls) and by visiting cavs.com/cavaliergirls.

2014 Cleveland Cavalier Girls Auditions

Auditions for next season’s squad will be held at Quicken Loans Arena on Sunday, July 20th at 8:00 a.m. To assist dancers with their tryout preparation, pre-audition workshops begin Saturday, June 21st at 12:00 p.m. at EB Fitness Club (located on the East Bank of Cleveland’s Flats).

New to this year’s audition process, interested dancers are asked to come prepared with their own moves to show the judge’s their personal flare! Candidates that make the first cut will continue on to learn and perform a choreographed Cavalier Girl’s routine.

Judges are searching for dancers who fit the style and energy of the Cavalier Girls. The selected women are ambassadors for the Cleveland Cavaliers organization, who take pride in bringing top-notch performances to the team’s award-winning game presentation, in addition to being dedicated representatives for community outreach initiatives.

Chosen finalists selected in the preliminary and semi-finalists rounds of auditions will be invited to participate in a two-week-long boot camp that includes formal interviews, mock practices, appearances and performances all leading up to the Cavalier Girls Finalist live event, which will be open to the public, at a later date this summer.

It is recommended, but not mandatory, that candidates participate in the Cavalier Girls pre-audition workshops at EB Fitness Club (1111 West 10th St., Cleveland 44113). Beginning June 21st, workshops will be held Monday and Wednesday evenings from 7-10 p.m. and Saturday afternoons from 12–3 p.m. The cost of a three hour session is $40. Workshops include a group warm-up, across the floor Jazz technique/skills, a choreographed combination routine that features a mock audition and a question/answer session at the end of the workshop. Each workshop will feature fresh, new and exciting choreography taught by a staff including current professional choreographers, coaches, and former Cavalier Girls. There is no limit on how many workshops can be attended.

Requirements include that candidates must be at least 18 years old at the time of auditions (there is no maximum age limit). Candidates must provide legal, valid proof of age when they register for auditions. Team members must have reliable means of transportation and flexible schedules for rehearsals, games and appearances for one full year, including pre-season and post-season events. All team members must be available for Cavalier Girls training camp to be held in August.

For detailed information on the workshops, audition guidelines and process, and to complete a pre-registration form, interested candidates should call the Cavs Entertainment Hotline at (216) 420-2255 or email cavaliergirls@cavs.com. Pre-registration costs $20 and must be received by Wednesday July 16th to guarantee a reserved spot. Walk-ups will be accepted for a $25 registration fee and are encouraged to arrive early. On-site registration begins at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday, July 20th and the auditions start at 8:30 a.m.

Cavaliers Girl Throws Out First Pitch at Indians Game

Cavalier Girl, and Miss Northern Ohio U.S.A., Elise, threw out the first pitch at the Cleveland Indians game on Sunday, September 2nd at Progressive Field.

[More photo of Elise here.]

Vote For Your Favorite Cavalier Girls Finalist

See all the finalists and cast your vote here.

Green grad dances onto Cavs team

By Jim Mesko
TheSuburbanite.com
February 10, 2013

For Becky Ciocca, it’s a dream come true.

The Green graduate and nursing student at the University of Akron tried out for and made the Cavaliers Girls Dance Team, which performs at all Cavaliers home games during time outs and half time. They also take part in various Cavaliers events and mingle with the crowd before games. The team is made up of 17 girls.

“I love it,” Becky said. “It is just great that it is considered a profession. It is awesome to be dancing for my job. What is really the best thing about it is to be dancing in front of everyone at the arena. It is really cool with all that experience at the NBA level.”

Getting on the dance team is the culmination of a lot of dedication and hard work. She started dancing after her father, Jim, suggested doing that instead of gymnastics.

“It was really getting expensive with costumes, traveling to shows, and entry fees, so we decided that getting involved with the theater would not be as expensive and time consuming,” Jim said. “Boy, were we wrong on that one.”

Becky was one of the regulars at the old Theatre 8:15. She performed in more than three dozen shows.

“Becky was one of the hardest workers I ever had,” said Diane Mehok, who directed and choreographed her in many performances. “She never complained, and if she missed a practice, Becky made it up on her own time. She took great pride in what she did. It didn’t matter if she was in the front, middle or back, she always did her best and gave a topnotch performance.”

Becky also helped others during rehearsal, and it was not uncommon for her to be seen helping younger cast members with their lines and dance routines.

While in high school, Becky made the dance team and also performed in various Green theater productions.

“She made coaching fun and easy,” said her coach, Wendy Shocklee. “She was always willing to try new things and came prepared to practice. Becky was one of those girls that I knew would be able to dance after high school. She had the whole package — beautiful technique, unbelievable stage presence and a positive attitude.”

After graduation, she went to the University of Akron on a nursing scholarship, but dancing was never far away from her thoughts. She made the Akron U Dance Team, then tried out for and made the Cleveland Gladiators Dance Team.

“One day my boyfriend suggested that I try out for the Cavaliers dance team, and I decided to give it a try, not thinking I would really have a chance,” Becky said. “I made the first cuts and then went through two weeks of auditions, practices and public appearances to see how we reacted with people and vice versa.”

After the last series of tryouts, Becky made the final cut.

“I wanted so badly to make it at that moment,” she said. “When I found out I had made it, I cried tears of joy. Making it was more exciting than I ever imagined. I really didn’t think I would be so exhilarated!

What is it like to be a Cavaliers Girl?

“You have to either have a job or be in school. I would say about half the girls are in school,” Becky said. “We don’t have weigh-ins, we are just expected to look and be healthy. We normally get to the arena three to four hours before a game. We practice our routines, make last-minute changes and get dressed. We have two main outfits, plus two more we can use. About an hour before the game starts, we go down to the main level and greet people and sign autographs. About the only downside is the long drive from here up to Cleveland.”

Her family is very supportive of her position on the Cavaliers.

Becky with her Dad, Jim

“My parents love it. My two brothers think it is really cool,” Becky said. “I can sometimes get them free tickets, but a lot of times they just come up to see me at a home game on their own. My grandparents haven’t had a chance to come up yet, though. I really appreciate all my family has done for me.”

Her parents go to many of the games to watch her.

“I am really proud of her,” said Becky’s mother, Ann, also a Green graduate. “She has gone so far from Green to Akron U, to the Gladiators and now the Cavaliers. I don’t know how she balances her studies with all this. But she manages. Sometimes she comes home, but I don’t get a chance to see her. I just see little piles of stuff she has left behind that I jokingly call ‘Becky sightings’.”

Jim shares his wife’s pride.

“I think her ability to perform in front of a large crowd of people has helped Becky develop into a young woman who interacts well with others,” he said. “To see the excitement on her face is so gratifying to me. Dancing is her love. And she interacts especially well with younger children. I think being a Cavaliers Girl is the culmination of her dreams.”

Perhaps, but Becky isn’t through performing yet.

“I would like to work on a cruise ship,” she said. “Or go to Los Angeles or New York and work in some bigger shows there.”

Fans Can Now Cast Their Vote for 2012-13 Cavalier Girl Calendar Cover Girl

The 2012-2013 Cavalier Girl Calendar is almost ready to hit the stands, but before this fan-favorite pictorial goes to print, there’s one more shot that needs to be chosen! Cavalier Girls Kaela, Shelbie and Amber are this year’s Cover Girl finalists and they need fans’ support to help them land the coveted cover spread. Fans can vote today through Thursday, November 29th for their favorite dancer to be the face of one of the hottest selling items in the Cavaliers Team Shop and also to be entered for a chance to win awesome prizes. The 2012-13 Cover Girl will be revealed on Thursday, December 6th at the Cavalier Girl Calendar Launch Party at Sushi Rock in Beachwood, OH.

Fans that vote will automatically be entered to win a grand prize that includes VIP Access for them and up to three (3) guests to the 2012-2013 Cavalier Girl Calendar Launch Party; four (4) tickets to a 2012-13 Cavs game, four (4) autographed 2012-13 Cavalier Girl Calendars and the opportunity to take a photo with the Cavalier Girls on court! Ten (10) second prize winners will receive one (1) autographed 2012-13 Cavalier Girl Calendar. Vote today for your chance to win!

[Cast your vote]

[Cleveland Cavalier Girls]

More on the Magic Finalists…

Yesterday I posted about the finalists for the 2012-13 Orlando Magic Dancers. Well, I have some more goodies for you today. There’s a lot of cool audition-related stuff on the Magic website, so make sure you check that out: There’s an interesting article, a photo gallery, Some cute trivia about the finalists, and loads of video.

Plus, there is still time to vote!

And finally, a little more scoop for you. I mentioned that finalist Tiffany was a Dolphins Cheerleader for four seasons.

There are also a few other notables in the finalist group:
Brittany, Nicole, & Melissa are alumni of the Orlando Predators Prowlers dance team

Ashley S was a Miami Marlins Mermaid (unfortunately that team is defunct as of this year, so maybe this will be another chance for her to do some dancing)

Marissa was a member of City Girls, the dance team for Orlando City Soccer

Jamie was a Cleveland Cavalier Girl for seasons

We also have a veteran who is trying to make a comeback after a 4 year Hiatus. Candace was on the team from 2004-07, and retired in order to go after her nursing degree full force. Now she’s a full fledged R.N. and she wants back in. Her sister Heather has been a Magic Dancer for 2 seasons, and is also a finalist this year. If both Candace and Heather make it, it will be their first time to be on the team together at the same time, so fingers crossed for the two of them!

First-Ever Cavalier Girls Audition Finals Live Event!

The Cavaliers have completed auditions for the 2012-13 Cavalier Girls and are almost ready to announce this season’s new dance team! For the first time ever, the team will host the Cavalier Girl Audition Finals (#CavsGirlsFinals) LIVE on Saturday, July 28th at 7:00 p.m. at BarRoom Cleveland (200 Euclid Ave. Cleveland, OH 44114). Hosted by Cavs In-Arena Announcer Olivier Sedra, the night of fun and entertainment is free for all fans. Doors open at 6:00 p.m.

The 28 Cavalier Girl finalists will razzle and dazzle the crowd with the dance team’s signature classy-sexy moves that they have been rehearsing over the two weeks leading up to the audition finals. In front of a panel of guest judges and fans in attendance, each dancer, hoping to win a coveted spot in Cavalier Girl history, will perform a choreographed routine and round-off the competition with her hottest freestyle dance moves. In addition to the dance and performance portions of the audition, the women will model their best swimwear as a preview of the annual Cavalier Girls Calendar which will be released later this year and feature the 2012-13 dance team.
Cavalier Girls Auditions Live

Throughout the night, fans will be invited to text and vote for their favorite Cavalier Girl finalists. In addition, there will be contests to win awesome Cavalier prizes and one lucky woman in attendance will win a glamorous “Gold’N Glam” Cavalier Girl-inspired makeover, provided by Cavalier Girl personal stylist Marlita Kinmon. The fabulous makeover results will be unveiled to fans that night.

Also, between performances, Access Cavaliers will bring fans the latest updates on the Cleveland Cavaliers with a recap of all the 2012 NBA Summer League action from Las Vegas. The auditions will culminate with the announcement of the new team and the dancers will make their official debut as the 2012-13 Cavalier Girls as they meet and greet with fans after the event.

2011-12 Cavalier Girls

The Cleveland Cavaliers have updated their dance team pages. Click here to learn more about the ladies on the team!

Jen, Brittany S, and Samantha