KHOU posted this video of the Houston Rockets dance team open call over the weekend. Even though it looks like the video was shot by someone who rappelled down from the roof and poked his camera through the curtains of a second story window, it does capture the vibe of the audition experience. Anyone who has auditioned for a team can relate to that intensely uncomfortable moment when you finish dancing, the music goes off, and the room is dead silent. And you’re standing there paralyzed because you can’t figure out if the judges want you to stay where you are, or get out of the way for the next group. AWKWARD.
Universal Records Recording Artist Returns to Houston
The Houston Rockets announced the hiring of Natalie Alvarado as the new Dance Coach & Choreographer for the Houston Rockets Power Dancers. Alvarado, who has over 17 years of professional dance experience, will also oversee the Rockets Launch Crew, Rockets Little Dippers and Rockets Space City Seniors. A Houston native, Alvarado returns home after spending a year-and-a-half as Dance Coach with the Minnesota Timberwolves Dancers.
Alvarado will be charged in leading a team that she was once a member of for seven years. During her time as a dancer with RPD, Alvarado served as a captain and choreographer, while splitting time as a professional back-up dancer and choreographer. Additionally, Alvarado toured the nation as a music performer with Universal Records. Her self-titled debut album “Natalie” premiered at No. 16 on the Billboard Top-200 Charts. These experiences have given Alvarado a vast knowledge of the entertainment industry, which she looks to use in taking RPD to the next level with show-stopping performances and hard-hitting choreography.
The Rockets will host the 2012-13 Houston Rockets Entertainers Auditions at Toyota Center on two dates: July 28 for Little Dippers, Launch Crew and Space City Seniors and July 29 for Rockets Power Dancers. The team will be looking for the brightest and most talented dancers in the City of Houston.
• Schedule and coordinate all performance team auditions and workshops. Includes assisting with marketing efforts, leading recruiting efforts, choreographing audition dance routines and conducting interviews.
• Responsible for executing the Houston Rockets’ creative vision and ensuring the teams adhere to organizational standards.
• Responsible for all performance teams’ paperwork – new hire, payroll, etc.
• Maintain budgets for performance teams.
• Maintain files for revenue-generating performance events (camps and clinics).
• Carry out supervisory responsibilities for assigned staff in accordance with the organization’s policies and applicable laws. Responsibilities include: training employees; planning, assigning and directing work; appraising performance; rewarding and disciplining employees; addressing issues and solving problems and regularly communicating with staff.
• Choreograph routines performed at home games throughout the Rockets season as well as special events; teach routines to ensure all team members are prepared to meet performance expectations.
• Schedule, organize, conduct and manage rehearsals; ensure all team members are adequately prepared to perform.
• Provide design, order, organize and maintain uniforms for all performance teams.
• Design photo shoots and print items process for each team.
• Direct performers at all home games, rehearsals and special events.
• Attend all games, clinics, camps, etc. and monitor quality of performances.
• Maintain the professionalism of the performance teams by monitoring hair, make-up, physical fitness and on and off the court behavior.
• Establish all sponsor-able items for performers (i.e. stylists, gym memberships, skin care, teeth whitening, tanning, etc.).
• Coordinate performance teams promotional appearances on a regular basis; communicates team appearance dates, times, etc. to all team members.
• Assist in generating new ideas for performance teams. This includes new music, choreography, theme performances, etc.
• Demonstrates our One Team philosophy of Passion, Accountability, Customer Focus and Teamwork.
• Minimum three years of professional dance team experience.
• High School diploma or GED required; college degree preferred
• Skill in the creation and execution of dance routines for public performances.
• Must have a strong knowledge of several dance styles.
• Strong live entertainment background.
• Has to be able to balance a corporate structure and creative entertainment world.
• Needs to be able to work well with others in a team oriented environment.
• Must be able to lead and motivate dancers.
• Needs to be able to quickly assemble performances in any space.
• Must be able to read audiences and adjust performances accordingly.
• Flexibility with an often-evolving schedule of events, appearances, games, etc.
• Detail oriented with excellent organizational skills.
• Excellent administrative and time management skills.
• Able to meet tight deadlines and work effectively in a high pressure environment.
• Familiar with today’s trends in music and fashion.
• Excel at motivating performers and leading by example.
• Must be able to work evenings and weekends as required.
PHYSICAL & MENTAL REQUIREMENTS:
• While performing the duties of the job, the employee is regularly required to stand, sit, walk, use handle or feel, reach, stoop, kneel, crouch or crawl, talk and hear.
• The vision requirement includes close vision and ability to adjust focus.
• Nature of position requires physical mobility and the ability to lift a minimum of 20 pounds.
• Must have ability to adjust to changing work hours and locations as needed.
Note: When you apply for this job online, you will be required to answer the following questions:
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.”
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
2011-2012 Rockets Power Dancer squad revealed
Rockets.com staff Houston Rockets
July 21, 2011
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.
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 …
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.”