Check out these videos from the team’s Halloween party.
Check out these videos from the team’s Halloween party.
The Houston Rockets Power Dancers (RPD) are hosting a Halloween party on Oct. 30 from 7 to 11:30 p.m. at the House on Blues.
The party will not only feature lovely RPD girls in costumes, but it will also feature Lucky Devil Thrill Show, DJs spinning the jams, great prizes, special guest appearances, drink specials and more.
Doors open at 7 p.m. with $5 donations at the dorr to benefit Kids Meals Houston. Guests must be at least be 18-years old. Come dressed in your costumes!
HoustonRockets.com has tons of photos of the Power Dancers’ annual swimsuit calendar shoot.
Featuring Kayla, Kayci, Ebony, Ashley, and Tracy
Featuring Paige and Amber
Featuring Carrie, Jessica, Cara, Lyndsy, and Erica
Featuring Alysse, Christie, and Laura
Featuring Amanda, Kristen, Yasmine, and Lauren
Featuring Rachel, Ginger, and Dani
By Mandy Oaklander
What she does: Marilu Harman makes a living by getting Houston to dance, whether in the Houston Press parking lot on National Dance Day or out on the sidelines. Harman is the coach of the Dynamo Girls, where she choreographs and drills routines.
How she got here: Harman began her dance career at Texas A&M, where she founded a dance team that performed at Aggie basketball games. She had a stint with the Dallas Mavericks and then moved to Houston, intending to go to grad school. But happy feet called, and she was recruited by the Houston Rockets to revamp their dance team. “They wanted to change it from being more than a cheering squad,” Harman says. “They wanted to raise it to the bar of LA and New York.” Harman refueled the Rockets for ten years, and then the WNBA was incorporated. She was hired to create a dance team for the brand-new Houston Comets, so she formed a hip hop-based co-ed squad. “It was an America’s Best Dance Crew before its time,” she says. And then in 2006, the Dynamo rang. “They called me up and said, ‘What do you think? Do you think a dance team would go over well with soccer?’ I said, ‘In Texas, you could have a dance team for golf. As long as they have cute outfits and can really dance!'”
What inspires her: Harman is like a heat-seeking missile for wannabe dancers. “I get my joy from inspiring other people that they can do this,” she says. “Getting out there and encouraging other people to dance feeds my soul.” It’s what led her to audition for MTV’s MADE as the dance teacher for Leighann, a tomboy who wanted to join her school’s drill team. Harman landed the gig — and although Leighann didn’t make the team, she’s still dancing. Harman keeps in touch with her via text. “She never imagined she could ever be a dancer,” Harman said.
Her proudest moment: Harman holds auditions on a regular basis, where she meets a lot of aspiring dancers. Sometimes out of nowhere, one will stop her on the street and tell Harman she inspired her to dance. “They’re people you meet for one day,” Harman says. “The results of that one day and one connection was that they pursued their passion. It almost makes everything worth it.”
What’s next: Whatever project the dance world throws at her next, Harman’s ready for it with a high kick and a smile. But secretly, she misses performing. “The girls keep bugging me to jump out there and dance with them,” she says, laughing. “One day I might do it. Camouflaged, no one will know.”
by Michelle Homer
Finalists for the 2011-12 Rockets Power Dancers squared off Wednesday night at the House of Blues in downtown Houston. The women performed several routines before judges and a crowd of fans, friends and relatives. The judges later named the 18 women chosen to add to the current squad that included four captains who had already been named.
The Chosen Ones
HOUSTON – After ten days of intense training, four rounds of auditions and nerve-wracking performances, the results are in and a new generation of Rockets Power Dancers has been unveiled.
Culminating a process that began with the initial round of auditions on July 9th, 18 lovely and talented dancers were chosen Tuesday night at the House of Blues in downtown Houston to join RPD co-captains Ginger, Ebony, Christie, and Kristen on the squad for the upcoming season.
The event marked the third consecutive year that the Rockets have held the final auditions in public, and more than 1,000 people were on hand to witness the festivities which included top-notch performances from all the finalists, plus Clutch the Rockets Bear, Launch Crew, Little Dippers and the Space City Seniors.
If you weren’t able to attend, don’t worry – Rockets.com has you covered with video footage and a slide show from the event. [click here]
And be sure to keep an eye on the Rockets Power Dancers’ homepage in the weeks and months to come for more pictures, news and information on the ’11-12 team.
A Farewell To Charms
HOUSTON – I’m in my talent-judging prime: old and experienced enough to think I know everything, while still possessing just the right amount of youthful ignorance to prevent me from fully recognizing how inherently ridiculous that notion truly is.
Needless to say, then, the Rockets came to the right place when approaching me with the opportunity to help judge this past weekend’s Rockets Power Dancer auditions. With my mindset and experience (I’ve judged this competition two of the past three years, only missing the 2010 edition because I was in Las Vegas covering Summer League – I know, I know… priorities) I now believe myself capable of being able to separate the cheerleader chaff from the wheat in five seconds or fewer. My eye for true talent is just that keen and finely tuned. Or so I’d like to believe, anyway.
Misguided as I may be about my judging skills, however, I am under no such delusions concerning my ability to properly cover this event; for it is one thing to sit down and grade the gyrating dancers in front of you, quite another to convey that experience in a creative, compelling and (hopefully) entertaining way. While re-reading my running diary (Copyright, Bill Simmons – All rights reserved) of the 2009 auditions, I was somewhat shocked to realize it was chock full of references ranging from Teddy Roosevelt to “Labyrinth” to the Ludovico technique made famous in A Clockwork Orange. Do those talking points, in and of themselves, make for compelling content? Of course not. But surely they at least made the story unique and perhaps, in so doing, helped capture the spirit of the event in a way which compelled the reader to carry on, if for no other reason than to see what might be lurking around the next corner.
All of which is my typically long-winded way of letting you know that while my judging conceit was alive and well heading into the weekend, so too was the practically paralyzing fear of creative failure that is well-known by writers the world over. After all, what good does it do me to enter the prime judging years of my life if my capacity for creativity is already on a steep, downward trajectory leading me straight into the bland, nondescript and apathetic abyss that is home to the likes of Harlequin romance novelists, Hollywood screenwriters churning out the 182nd sequel of the summer, and anyone who had anything to do with Season 1 of “The Killing”?
Seriously, that was the primary thought circulating my mind as I took my seat at the judges’ table Saturday morning. It should surprise you not at all then to find out that shortly thereafter my salvation was found in the form of …
10:53 AM – … Margaritas. Or, at least, the mere mention of them. Seems one of my fellow judges enjoyed a couple of those wonderful tequila-based beverages the night before and now she’s regaling me with tales of the experience. This proceeds to get the grey matter in my mind churning to the point that I’ve now developed a worst case scenario plan of action if I’m unable to generate anything fresh or new after two days and three rounds worth of competition. The plan calls for nothing more than putting on my WWHD (What Would Hemingway DO?) bracelet before proceeding to get blitzed out of my mind while exploring the raw world of cheerleading and extolling the virtue, valor and honor of those who compete. That’s right; cheerleaders are the new bullfighters – right down to their prominent and powerful use of the color red and the subtle movements necessary to best the beasts before them.
Anyway, somehow this thought serves to ease my anxiety (while no doubt simultaneously providing profound insight into the inner-workings of a troubled mind).
11:00 AM – As the assembled young women begin to learn the round one routine, I am struck by the undeniable reality of their youth – and the fast-fading, irrevocable erosion of mine. Gone are the days of this being a peer-to-peer exercise; they are fresh-faced, well-toned, scantily clad pictures of spring in full bloom, while I approach middle age with the mind-bending speed and alacrity of a Justin Verlander fastball. I am reminded of the classic cradle-robbing quote from Wooderson in the movie Dazed and Confused: “I get older, they stay the same age.” And, yes, I can confirm that relating to Wooderson in any way, shape or form, however momentarily, does in fact increase one’s desire to drink oneself into oblivion. Just in case you were curious.
(By the way, if you ever find yourself wondering what a character like Wooderson would be up to 20 years later, simply head to Bravo and turn on “The Millionaire Matchmaker.” Have you seen this show? It’s built around a Los Angeles-based company that specializes in setting up impossible-to-please millionaire men with the women of their dreams. Unable to successfully navigate dating life on their own, these down on their luck dudes (sarcasm implied), most of whom seem to be in their mid-50s, head to the agency bemoaning their inability to find the lifelong love and commitment they crave, all while describing their ideal mate thusly: a Harvard-educated Mother Theresa in her mid-20s who just wrapped up a Playboy Playmate of the Month cover shoot. You’ll be shocked to know that things often – at least in the one episode I could stomach watching – end poorly. Highest of high comedy.)
11:18 AM – FOX Sports Houston’s Patti Smith interviews me on camera to get my take on life as an RPD judge. Naturally, I knock it out of the park by setting a cliché-per-minute (henceforth to be known as CPM) record, unleashing a torrent of talent competition buzzwords like “total package,” “charisma,” and “it-factor.” Pretty sure I even got a “you can’t describe it, but you know it when you see it” in there. Randy Jackson would be so proud.
This also seems a good time to point out that the sabermetric society will have failed us if we don’t have nightly CPM tracking for announcers in all sports by this Fall at the latest. We all want better sports broadcasting so isn’t it long past time we developed and used metrics that can help us raise the bar? I’m demanding Daryl Morey make this the focus of a workshop at the next Sloan Conference.
11:23 AM – As I take my seat following the interview, my omnipresent, shape-shifting paranoia comes rushing back with a vengeance. The question now dogging me: at what point does my increased association with the Rockets Power Dancers (awkward host of RPD World, showing up at prep classes, and now serving as a judge) officially become a career killer, morphing me into either a soulless, puff piece producing automaton or a poor man’s version of Ryan Seacrest (Right now you’re wondering if there’s actually a difference between those two things. I’ll say this much: you’re not wrong for asking)? On cue, one of my co-workers asks me if I intentionally wore my shoes with teal laces to go with my teal dress shirt. Very well, then. Ryan Seacrest it is.
11:40 AM – Round 1 is underway. The dancers come out in groups of five and have approximately 30 seconds to perform the choreographed routine to the music. If they forget any of the moves they’re allowed to freestyle in an effort to show the judges everything they’ve got. This is far and away my favorite part of the first round proceedings. You never know what you’re going to see. An early highlight: one of the participants gets down on the floor right in front of me and proceeds to pull off a breakdancing move reminiscent of watching a sea turtle bust out of its shell; only if it were forced to do so upside down and with a broken neck. Confused? Well multiply that by 1,000 and you’ll understand how I feel. I don’t know whether to stand up and applaud or call an exorcist.
11:47 AM – The judging process is strangely intense once you get into the rhythm of it all. As soon as one group finishes the next is ushered in, meaning there’s precious little time to waste in terms of scoring or taking notes. The whole process is a picture of modern efficiency with volunteers walking by to collect your score sheets after every round.
In an attempt to be polite I try to at least turn around to thank them each time they walk past but sometimes all the furious scoring and scribbling makes that an impossibility. On those occasions the best I can do is just hold the paper near my head with one hand while I continue to write with the other. Every once in awhile the exchange finds the paper brushing by my cheek or neck, which of course is all it takes to make me consider the possibility of paper cuts. They’re certainly not the most pleasant of injuries but neither are they anywhere close to the worst. Unless … what if you were unfortunate enough to sustain one on your eyeball? Tell me the mere thought of something so awful doesn’t make you cringe. In related news, you’ll probably not be surprised to hear I’ve spent the last month of my life watching way more episodes of Dexter, Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones than any human being should ever be allowed.
11:55 AM – Being a veteran of the judging process can be helpful in many ways. Once you’ve done this a time or two there’s no denying the fact you start to recognize the sought-after attributes of a future RPD in very short order. One thing that never gets any easier, however: watching someone freeze when their moment arrives. It comes with the territory, of course; anyone who’s ever chosen to perform on a stage or a court has horror stories of moments they’d love to forget. The hope is that those tales someday become tools to help foster improvement and growth. But that all takes place in the future. Right here in the inescapable present there is nothing but pain – for both the crestfallen participant and the powerless judges unable to find the right words to say in such moments.
1:30 PM – Round 1 is over, lunch has been eaten and while the remaining dancers are still scattered enjoying a bit of a break, several of the judges, myself included, are now milling about, taking turns shooting hoops on the basketball court which has served as the stage for this weekend’s competition. I’m taking aim at one of the baskets along the sideline, repeatedly practicing the Dream Shake from the left block.
Like so many kids growing up in Clutch City back in the day, that was my shot. There was nothing better than going to a new playground where no one knew me, draining that first baseline turnaround while everyone decried what they thought was my apparent good fortune, then proceeding to knock down three more in succession. Such were the highlights of my athletics exploits. But I wasn’t just pumped for myself during those moments, I was also proud to be repping the Rockets with the shot Hakeem “taught” me. You can imagine, then, my dismay when someone saw me practicing the moves of my youth and commented that I was pulling a…let’s just call him that dude in Dallas. Heresy, I tell you. Clearly a 5-part summer series on the intricacies of the Dream Shake is in order to remind the world where and from whom that shot originates.
2:55 PM – Round 2 is in full swing. One of the judges sitting next to me whispers, “Extra points for boots” in response to the knee-highs one of the participants is wearing. Nothing truly noteworthy there; that is, except for the fact I misheard him when he said the word “boots.” I then proceed to spend the next 30 seconds giggling like a 12-year-old. So much for my air of superiority. Though, to be fair, that probably vanished the moment someone pointed out my teal-colored shoelaces.
Sunday 1:41 PM – Day 2 and Round 3 are now upon us. After starting with more than 200 wannabe RPD Saturday morning, we’re now down to approximately 60 competitors. By this point, everyone can dance and everyone looks good so this final cut will be by far the toughest made this weekend.
Sunday 2:00 PM – The dancers have to perform two different routines this time, one of which requires some serious booty shaking. No, really, that’s the move: you know the one I’m talking about; the one in which it appears as if a 6.0 earthquake is working its way up, around and through the person’s posterior. For the life of me, I will never figure out how women do this (Can men even do it? Is it physiologically possible?). It’s like the dancing equivalent of the Euro step or a step-back fadeaway 3 off a killer crossover; no matter how many times I see it, I’m always amazed.
Sunday 3:35 PM – The finalists have been chosen! After two days and three rounds, 28 young women are left to vie for 18 available spots (the squad’s four captains – Ginger, Ebony, Christie and Kristen – are already on the team) as the selection process now winds toward its ultimate conclusion which will take place the evening of July 20 at the House of Blues.
That means my work here is done. An enormous thank you to Susie Boudwin and all the Rockets staff who worked so hard to put on a great event and, most importantly, help me survive another year (paper cut free!). Because of them, I didn’t have to find inspiration in a bottle and American Idol has not yet called to inquire about my availability as a roving reporter. So life is good.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an entire generation to educate about the origins of the Dream Shake …
By Ted Dunnam
The familiar axiom implies that you must crawl before you learn to walk, and you must walk before you learn to run.
For Elyse Derr, however, she practically emerged from the crib with happy feet.
The 2008 Pearland High School graduate hopes that 18 years of dancing will prove beneficial when she competes in the final round of Houston Rockets Power Dancer auditions at 7 p.m., July 20 at the House of Blues in Houston.
In her first audition ever for any professional dance team, Derr has already survived three rounds to advance to the finals. She is among 28 dancers who will vie for 18 available spots on the Rockets Power Dancers’ roster.
“I’m a nursing major, and I wanted to apply for a nursing school in Houston,” Derr said. “I just thought that being in Houston…this would be another good opportunity for me.”
Derr is a former Texas State University Strutter, and has honed her dancing skills at Dancescape by Joyce for 15 years.
“Even though this was my very first time, I was fairly confident,” Derr said. “My mother’s had me dancing since I was 2 years old.
“My first goal was to just make it through the first round, and after I did that, I was hoping to make it through the second round. I gained more confidence each time I danced.”
Derr said “probably 120 girls” auditioned in the opening round. Then the number was pared to 100 for the second round. After the second round was completed, the number of competitors diminished to 52.
When the third round was complete, only 28 dancers remained.
“Each round was different,” Derr said. “We just did a basic sideline routine in the first round. Round two featured hip-hop, and round three was a jazz routine.
“This final round will be a production. We’ll learn a number this Friday and perform it, and we’ll also have to do each routine that we’ve learned through the entire process.”
If Derr is selected to the squad, it will certainly be a special day for her.
“When they have the final round at the House of Blues, it’s the same day as my 21st birthday,” she said. “I’ll probably be pretty nervous, but I’ll also be pretty confident.”
Derr knows she’ll get a morale boost from her mother.
“She was a dance team director,” Derr said, “and she started me off dancing as soon as I was born.”
A former Pearland Prancer, dancing is second nature to Derr. However, she’s taking nothing for granted when she performs in front of numerous friends and family members next Wednesday.
“If I make the team, I’ll be really happy,” she said. “If I don’t make it, I’ll be a little disappointed but not extremely heart-broken. I’m really happy to have made it this far.”
The Timberwolves Dancers have always strived to be one of the elite performance teams in the NBA and this year they introduced their new coach Natalie Alvarado. Alvarado has over 15 years of professional dance experience, including seven years as a dancer and assistant coach with the NBA’s Houston Rockets where she also split time as a professional back-up dancer and choreographer. Additionally, Alvarado toured the nation as a music performer with Universal Records and her self-titled debut album (“Natalie”) premiered at No. 16 on the Billboard Top 200 Charts. After all of these experiences, Alvarado was determined to return to her greatest passion: dance. With her vast experience and knowledge of the entertainment industry, Alvarado looks to take the Timberwolves Dancers to the next level with jaw-dropping performances and hard-hitting choreography.
The Houston gals are tearing it up in Texas. Click here to check out the newest gallery on SportsIllustrated.com!
Fox Sports has a small collection of photos of NBA dancers on game day. Click here to go there now.
Profiles and photos are now online for the Power Dancers. Click here to learn more about the ladies on the team!
By Evan Mohl
TEXAS CITY — Amber Martin sat backstage at The House of Blues on Tuesday. The 2008 Texas City graduate had been at this same spot last year, waiting for her name to be called. Only it didn’t happen.
Mostly nervous and partly preparing for another disappointment, Martin ignored the music and all the fans sitting around the stage. She didn’t even pay attention to the other dancers. She put up a wall.
A first name got called with screams and cheers. Then another. The third name came across the microphone, and Martin raised her head.
Was it hers? She thought so but wasn’t sure. No one was cheering and no other girl ran up to accept a spot as part of the 2010 Houston Rockets Power Dancers.
Finally, coach Susie Boudwin announced “Amber Martin” again. Martin came running out, with a huge smile and received her pompoms.
The 20-year-old did it. She made the Houston Rockets Power Dancers.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Martin said. “Words couldn’t even describe the feeling.”
Martin giggles about her dream to become a Rockets Power Dancer. She always has loved to be on stage, performing and dancing since she was a toddler.
But she also has a thing for the Rockets. Throughout her childhood, Martin attended games with her family. She enjoyed watching players like Hakeem Olajuwon and Tracy McGrady.
Yet the dancers caught Martin’s eye. She couldn’t believe how 20 girls could captivate an arena of 20,000 people.
Martin wanted to do that. She figured now, at a young age with minimal responsibilities and nothing to lose, was the best time to try.
“I have lots of goals I’d like to accomplish,” Martin said. “But this is one of my dreams, and if I wait too long, it may never happen.”
A Failure And Lesson
Martin tried out in 2009. She wanted to give the Power Dancers a shot, even though she didn’t know much about it. She had no idea the dancers even got paid.
“I just wanted to check it out,” Martin said. “Just to see if I had a chance and what it was all about.”
Martin got a wake-up call. She realized the skill, technique, work and effort it took to make the team. She had to go through a boot camp, three-hour learning sessions and constant judging.
Despite her unfamiliarity and ignorance, Martin hung in at the tryouts thanks to her dancing experience. She picked up the moves rather quickly and advanced to the final round.
After getting cut in the final round, Martin realized she had a chance to fulfill her dream. She was determined not to let it slip away.
Martin returned to College Station, where she attended Texas A&M University, and got to work. Between classes, she went to the gym. She also took multiple dance classes each semester to maintain and improve her skill.
Martin estimated she spent two to three hours four days a week in the gym or at a dance class.
“I gained muscles I didn’t know I had,” she said.
Martin also ate well — mostly fruits and vegetables. It helped that she’s lactose intolerant and doesn’t like fried foods.
A Second Chance
Martin came into this year’s tryouts with a new mindset: determined, focused and ready.
She was not fazed by learning dances in 30 minutes, three-hour auditions, interviewing, running laps, receiving criticism or facing off against 204 dancers for 18 spots.
Martin also pulled out all the stops. When Martin introduced herself at The House of Blues in the final round, she said her name and did the moonwalk.
“The crowd went nuts, and I could see the judges smiling,” Martin said. “I just wanted to go for it, and that’s a move that always makes people smile. Ever since high school, I’ve always done it, so I figured why not now?”
It clearly worked.
Martin moved back to Texas City to get closer to the Toyota Center so drives to practices and games won’t be too long. She’ll attend the University of Houston-Clear Lake.
Martin said she’s looking forward to appearances and being a representative of the Houston basketball organization. She can’t wait for opening night, when she’ll be on the basketball court, helping get the crowd pumped up for a new Rockets season.
Now, all eyes will be fixed on her.
“It’s really a dream come true for me,” Martin said. “I still can’t believe my name got called.”
Houston – After ten days of intense training, multiple auditions and nerve-wracking performances, the results are in and a new generation of Rockets Power Dancers has been unveiled.
Culminating a process that began with the initial round of auditions on July 11th, 18 lovely and talented dancers were chosen Tuesday night at the House of Blues in downtown Houston to join RPD co-captains Ebony, Ginger, Natalie, and Christie on the squad for the upcoming season.
The event marked the second time that the Rockets have held the final auditions in public, and more than 1,000 people were on hand to witness the festivities which included top-notch performances from all the finalists, plus Clutch the Rockets Bear, Launch Crew, Little Dippers and the Space City Seniors.
And be sure to keep an eye on the Rockets Power Dancers’ homepage in the weeks and months to come for more pictures, news and information on the ’10-11 team.
By Paula Beltrán,
The Rockets Power Dancer final auditions were in full swing Tuesday night: oh the glamour, the perfectly-sculpted legs … the NASA engineer adjusting her hot shorts?
“I’m an engineer at NASA, so when I’m not dancing I work with some of the best and brightest in Houston,” Summer Williams told Hair Balls. Williams has legs that Bridget Jones would kill for, but she has an even longer title: Sustaining Engineering Lab Manager in the Avionic Systems Division.
At NASA — which just puts the rest of us saying we don’t have time, or we are too drained by the daily grind to work out, to sh-sh-shame, people.
The women endured several weeks of grueling physical preparation — you try landing that step perfectly every time and then covering up the bruises that come with perfection. They devoted all their available time to achieving that winning combination of form, technique and, of course, sequined hot shorts and bedazzled bras.
The judges selected eighteen of the thirty women that tried out for the honor of cheering the Rockets this season.
Geneva Gordon was one of those selected and she was bubbly as she told us that this will be her third season with the Power Dancers. The artist is also celebrating her sculpture show currently at the Lawndale Art Center.
This season’s Rockets fans will also have the chance to appreciate the athleticism of Rachel Snow and Yvette Nguyen, who although new to the Power Dancers, have plenty of experience cheering for teams.
Nguyen, a recent Marketing graduate from UT-Arlington, used to dance and skate for the Dallas Stars, and Snow spent two seasons with the Texans.
True, they’ll have to get used to winning more often now.
The best part for all the ladies whether they made the team or not?
A break from the endless stretching.
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