Aussie Cheerleader Makes The L.A. Clippers Spirit Dance Team

Northern beaches dancer Courtney Watts finally flies to start LA Clippers dance job after landing role on holiday

Courtney Watts, 27, from Dee Why, will begin work for the Los Angeles Clippers Spirit Dance Team and has already been to Vegas on holiday with the girls. Picture: Instagram

Courtney Watts, 27, from Dee Why, will begin work for the Los Angeles Clippers Spirit Dance Team and has already been to Vegas on holiday with the girls. Picture: Instagram

A former NRL cheerleader will start her dream job this week, dancing for a top American basketball team.

Courtney Watts, 27, of Dee Why, will begin work for the Los Angeles Clippers’ Spirit Dance Team.

As reported in the Manly Daily, the former Sea Eagles Sea Bird landed the role after combining a holiday with a tryout for the squad.

She was thrilled to get the job — but then had to secure a visa. She now has one, given on the basis of “extraordinary talent”.  After being unable to join the first month of training, Watts said she faced a big catch-up before the season starts next month.

After being unable to join the first month of training, Watts said she faced a big catch-up before the season starts next month.

“I’ve been on the outside —— I wasn’t allowed in just because of the legalities,” she said.

But it is set to be a glam life for the former Mackellar student, who has just got an apartment in West Hollywood, close to Sunset Blvd and the Hollywood Hills.

The squad has a reality TV show on channel E! and she will be involved if another series is commissioned.

Courtney Watts has bought an apartment in West Hollywood.

Courtney Watts has been dancing since she was a child. Picture: Supplied.

“I’ve never thought about myself going on reality TV — when the time comes I’ll have to deal with it,” she said.

“The girls all had fun last year and they’re hoping that there is a season two.”

The only overseas dancer in the squad, Watts said her teammates were still getting used to her lingo. Pictured at Dee Why.

Watts, also a former Cronulla Sharks and Sydney Kings cheerleader, has already been on a trip to Las Vegas, where everything was free.

The only overseas dancer in the squad, Watts said her teammates were still getting used to her lingo.

Courtney Watts at her LA Clippers audition

Courtney Watts, former Manly Sea Eagles cheerleader from Dee Why starts training with the Los Angeles Clippers Spirit Dance Team. Picture: Instagram

“I said something about a rig and they were like, ‘What’s a rig?’ and I said, ‘Your body!’ ” she said. “They find it hilarious.”

Watts, whose parents Jan, 56, and John, 61, live in Dee Why, began dancing at aged four at Dance North Academy in Narraweena, where she also recently taught.

LA Clippers reality show

She also worked as a personal trainer.

She said she was not earning a Hollywood wage.

“I wouldn’t say it’s well paid,” she said. “We do it for the love and not the money.”

Clippers Spirit Dance Team Auditions Photos

The Clippers Spirit recently held their dance team auditions and they posted a gallery on their website. Click on the image below to see the gallery.

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Los Angeles Clippers Announce Open Call Auditions and Pre-audition Workshops for the Kid Clippers

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Los Angeles Clippers Spirit Announce Open Call Audition and Pre-Audition Workshop Dates

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To register for either the pre-audition workshops or the open call auditions, please visit the Clippers web site at: Clippers.com/spirit.

Topekan on LA Clippers dance team to be featured on new docuseries

(Photo by Juan Ocampo/LA Clippers via Bernstein Associates, Inc.)

Taylor Clark, Washburn Rural High School graduate, moved to LA in 2013
By Katie Moore
The Topeka Capital-Journal
January 17, 2016

A native Topekan will be featured on a new docuseries premiering on E! network this spring.

Taylor Clark, a dancer for the Los Angeles Clippers, will be part of the show titled “L.A. Clippers Dance Squad.”

“I’m excited to see how (the show) will come out and how it will all be put together,” she said.

Clark graduated from Washburn Rural High School in 2012 and attended Kansas State University for a year. Though college was a positive experience, she opted to put school on hold and pursue her dancing dream. Her parents, Bruce and Cindy Clark, were supportive of the decision.

In July 2013, Clark headed to Los Angeles. Moving was “one of the greatest risks I’ve ever taken,” she said. However it’s been rewarding, Clark said, as she has gotten to learn a lot about herself and make new friends.

In California, she began seeking out opportunities, going on auditions and castings and finding some success in getting booked. Additionally, a dance agency picked her up.

In July 2015, she auditioned for the L.A. Clippers’ Spirit Dance Team. Filming for the docuseries began at the audition. The cameras followed the prospective dancers as they progressed through the process — from auditions, interviews, selection, practices and performances at games.

Clark said the show is an inside look of what it is like to be an NBA dancer, from the hard work that goes into the job to some of the members’ personal lives.

At first, Clark said, it was weird to have cameras around so much and to always be hooked up to a microphone. But it is something she has gotten more used to.

Being a dancer on the team has presented some challenges and special opportunities. The coach of the team has changed up the style of dancing — in the past, there were cheerleader-type routines. They now are incorporating “industrial dance,” which has more of an urban and hip-hop approach. Clark said the change hopefully will let fans see that they are “not just pretty cheerleaders,” but athletes.

The dancers practice on Sundays and Mondays and before each game, arriving before the basketball players on game day. It is more commitment than people assume, she said.

At times, extra rehearsals are necessary to ensure the team has the choreography down.

“There’s a great team atmosphere,” she said.

Clark has had the opportunity to travel on the squad, performing in many parts of the U.S. and in China and Taiwan.

“It’s been an incredible experience,” Clark said. “It’s so much fun.”

In February, Clark — who was named a co-captain — will travel to Toronto for the NBA All-Star Game. Only one dancer from each of the NBA’s basketball teams was chosen to participate.

A date for the debut of the eight-episode series hasn’t been set, but Clark said she expects it will be sometime in March.

Photo of the Day – September 3

A member of the LA Clippers Spirit

Audrea is Phoenix-bound!

I have met a lot of great people through this blog. One of my favorites is Audrea Harris. I met Audrea through the Los Angeles Clippers years ago. She immediately struck me as such a class act and she became a wonderful friend. I was so incredibly jazzed a year or so after we met, when she took over direction of the Clippers entertainment teams and really put her stamp on the organization.


Audrea (at right) with her mom and sister Adrianne

Last month Audrea decided it was time to move on to new challenges and part ways with the Clippers.

WHAT????

sunsI will admit to being totally gutted by the news at first. It was bittersweet. You know how it is when you know your friend is making an important and right decision for herself, but your inner 7 year old is all “But whyyyyyyyy?????”

It is the end of an era, that’s for sure. Audrea had been with the Clippers organization for 16 years, including four as a member of the Spirit Dance Team. (Cue the vintage awesomeness.) It is difficult to imagine the Clippers in general, and the Spirit in particular, without her.

Well, c’est la vie! Off with the old and on with the new! I am pleased and proud to announce that the Clippers’ loss is the Phoenix Suns’ gain. Audrea is packing her bags and next month, will start her new job as Game Entertainment Coordinator for the Suns! It’s a big promotion, a big step up, and a very exciting new opportunity. I cannot wait to see the creativity, professionalism, and fun she will bring that that new role.

Game on, Suns fans! Please join me in saying congratulations!

BTW, I already checked Google Flights and I can get from Burbank to Phoenix in 90 minutes. Don’t think I won’t do it. Mwahahahahahaha….

2015 Clippers Spirit Auditions

This year’s Clippers Spirit auditions kicked off on Sunday morning at the Clippers training facility in Playa Vista, CA. Over 200 ladies queued up for
the opportunity to represent the Clippers organization and entertain fans at home games this fall.

The entire thing was filmed by a tv crew, so the place was crawling with black-clad crew members with cameras, microphones, clipboards, and other mysterious looking equipment

The dancers, who’d started arriving before 8 am, had plenty of time to warm up and get ready for the day.



The day kicked off at 9:30 am with a pep talk, where dancers were encouraged to do their best, put it all out on the floor, and try to have some fun with the process.

They also introduced the judges and the numerous helper elves (interns) there to make the process go smoothly.

Clippers Spirit alumni Brianna, Justene, Anasheh, Brittany, Bianca, and Michelle were on hand to assist the choreographers.

The Clippers organization shook up the audition process this year. In addition to the change in venue (Air conditioning! Praise the Lord!), there were different choreographers, and a different format than usual.

Unlike past years, where the audition began with a technical across-the-floor combination, this year, the first round one didn’t involve any choreography at all. Instead, for this “First Impressions Round,” the dancers were called into the room in groups of 25.

Then they took the floor in groups of four or five to introduce themselves to the judges, and then freestyle and show off their best moves.

We saw lots of tricks, lots of technique, a little bit of tumbling, and more than one dancer twerked it out for the judges.







As each group of 25 finished up, they were steered outside to hear their fate: in or out.

Those who made the cut headed back inside to wait for the next round. That first round took almost three hours. After a break for lunch, the veterans from last year’s team made their entrance. Fourteen of them, dressed all in black, matching down to shoes and accessories.

I know and like all of these ladies, but heck, even I was intimidated when they walked in.

14 veterans. 18 spots on the team. That’s scary odds for both the veterans AND the aspiring rookies. After the lunch break, everyone gathered around to hear the plan for the rest of the afternoon: first a jazz/technical combination, then another cut, then a hip hop combination, followed by a third cut.

Sophia Aguiar choreographed the first combination. Sophia’s resume includes performances with JLo, Nicki Minaj, Justin Timberlake, and heck if I know what all else. She’s a member of the cast for Britney’s Spears’ Vegas show. Just so you know. This is no slouch off the street. Sophia chorographed a really fun dance to Pharrell’s “Freedom.”

This went fast. 30 minutes later, she’d taught the combination, the dancers had run through it a few times, and then it was time to line up for round two.

Show us watcha got, ladies!




By 3pm, round 2 was over.


Clippers Spirit, past and present, waiting for the judges to finish deliberating.

90 minutes later, the second cut was announced, narrowing the field down to 60 danceers

There was no time to hug your girlfriends goodbye. Everybody get up and put your pants on, it’s time for hip hop. The choreographer for this round was Bryan Tanaka.

Because why wouldn’t Beyonce’s dance captain be choreographing for the Clippers Spirit audition? Honestly, sometimes I actually forget this is Los Angeles. And then something like this happens.

Bryan’s combination was to Dawin’s “Dessert”. (The song will confuse you at first. But the jam hits you about 45 seconds in. “Watcha gon, watcha gon do with that dessert? Murder dat, murder dat, murder dat dance floor.)

This time there were less than 30 minutes to learn the dance. This is where they separate the boys from the men. So to speak.

On to round 3 judging:






And then it was over. Nothing left to do but wait for the judges.

Spirit vets with Bryan and Sophia When the judges returned, they cut the group down to 41 dancers (including all 14 veterans – woot!), who will duke it out at finals tomorrow night. It’s going to be insanely competitive. To say the least. Stay tuned!

Los Angeles Clippers Spirit Pre-Audition Workshops Next Month!

Save the date!

The playoffs are on and the Clippers are on fire. Don’t you wish you were part of it? Well, maybe you can be next season. Auditions for the amazing, glamorous, talented Clippers Spirit dance team are coming up in July. The team is hosting two pre-audition workshops to help you put your best foot forward. This is your chance to talk to the director of the team and current members, learn about their dance style and choreography, learn a dance or two, and get some invaluable advice on how to prepare yourself for auditions.

Click here for details!

2015 LACS save the date2

Local Cheerleaders Competing in the 2015 Miss California USA Pageant

Nearly 200 women from across California will be participating in this year’s MISS CALIFORNIA USA competition with the hopes of advancing to the national competitions. The winner of MISS CALIFORNIA USA® will go on to compete at the national MISS USA® competition which will be televised live on NBC.

This year, five current or former professional cheerleaders will be competing in the event.

Shelbi Buchholz – Miss Greater San Diego, San Diego Charger Girl
Chanelle Riggan – Miss Beverly Hills, Anaheim Duck Power Player
Jenny Ting – Miss Diamond Crest, Former Laker Girl and Charger Girl
Alexis Swanstrom – Miss Del Mar, Former Charger Girl
Brittany Wagner – Miss Universal City, Former Clippers Cheerleader and Ontario Fury Dancer

I have been fortunate to photograph four of these amazing women: Shelbi, Jenny, Alexis, and Brittany.

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The MISS CALIFORNIA USA® pageant will be held in Long Beach, California at the Terrace Theater on January 9-11, 2015 and is open to the public. Tickets for all three pageant events are available via ticketmaster.com.

For more information on the Miss California USA pageant, please visit their website here.

Photo of the Day – October 16

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A member of the LA Clippers Spirit

Behind the scenes at the Clippers Spirit photo shoot

The ladies of the Los Angeles Clippers Spirit dance team recently completed their photo shoot for the upcoming NBA season. Here’s a little sneak peek at how the day went. [photo gallery here]

It took place at the Clippers training facility in Culver City, which is south of Los Angeles proper. This is the same place where they had final auditions in July.

(I tried to get a photo of the outside, but there’s a tree in the way)

As everyone who has been through it knows, on photo shoot day, there’s a lot of this going on.

It starts with hair and makeup to get everyone glamorized

Veronica looking lovely even half done with curlers in her hair


Brooke gets her hair done

Kellie’s all glammed up from the neck up. (Not so much from the ankles down.)

This was the outfit for the individual shots:

This one has just a slight shimmer under the lights. This team wears a lot of red. More than white. Much much more so than blue. Now that I think about it, Clippers blue may be a hard color to match. And I doubt the boots come in that color.

Lights! Camera! Action!

Once it’s time to get started, some of the rookies were a bit nervous, but the team’s director Audrea Harris was there to make sure everyone looked her absolute best, from head to toe.


Gabri (working it without even trying.)


Sharon


Natalie


Brianna

In between shoots, the crew from Fox was also filming for this year’s “Making the Team” special.

After all of the individual shoots were over, the ladies changed costumes. This was the costume for the group photo.

Karissa and Brianna after the wardrobe change.

And this happened:


I have no idea. I turned around and she was in the middle of doing it.

Audrea also took a turn on camera…

…and that was when we noticed the tinsel wall, and its many possibilities.

Sharon and Kellie started it.

The tv crew’s lighting set up was excellent, so we took advantage.

Yay! Sister photo with Tatum and Tyra!

Text thing I knew, it turned into this and this and this.


Veterans Kelsey, Brooke, Natalie, Tatum, Brittany, Kellie, Brianna, Candace, and Karissa

Just the vets for now. Nina was still shooting, so we didn’t get to to a rookie shot until after:


Rookies Gabri, Mariah, Tyra, Amber, Sharon, Jen, Nina, Veronica, and Roxy

The group photo went really quickly. Ten minutes. Fifteen max.

They lined everyone up by height, made a few adjustments, and click-click-click it was over.

The day started around 8am and everyone was finished by 2. It goes so fast! In prior years, the team shoot has been at the dance studio, and it’s followed by several hours of rehearsal. This year, they got a break. Once the shoot was over, they were free to go.

These are the faces of women visualizing the Double-Double and fries they’re about to order over at the In-n-Out Burger. (Mmmm….burgers…)

I’m not sure how long it will be before the Clippers site is updated with the new photos, so I leave you with a hit of what to expect.


ROLL CALL!


Amber (rookie)


Brianna (year 2)


Brittany (year 8 )


Brooke (year2)


Candace (year 3)


Gabri (rookie)


Jen (rookie)


Karissa (year 3)


Kellie (year 5)


Kelsey (year 3)


Mariah (rookie)


Natalie (year 2)


Roxy (rookie)


Sharon (rookie)


Tatum (year 3)


Tyra (rookie)


Veronica (rookie)

Congratulations 2014-15 Clippers Spirit

The Clippers have announced the members of their dance team for the upcoming NBA season. The team has traditionally been 16 dancers, but last year they expanded to 17. This year they added yet another dancer to make the squad 18 strong. I can’t wait to see this extremely talented and beautifully diverse team wearing red, white, and blue on the floor at Staples Center this fall. Congratulations ladies! (Click here for more.)

2014 Clippers Spirit Final Auditions

It is Sunday afternoon, and somewhere about 20 miles south of here, the 33 finalists for the Clippers Spirit are sweating their buns off. It’s hard to believe that this year’s auditions have already come and gone. Final auditions always go by so quickly. All that build up and then it’s over. Each dancer only has about two minutes of performing to do in front of the judges. Everything you do in those two minutes has to be on point.

This year, finals were at the Clippers training facility in Culver City, which I was extremely happy about. Finals are usually at the dance studio where the team rehearses. I think the venue change had to do with the camera crew from Fox. There are some logistical challenges with filming in the studio, not the least of which is photographing dancers performing in front of an entire wall of mirrors without catching the crew and equipment in every single shot.

Whatever the reason for the location change, I was pleased because I got lots of great photos. [CLICK HERE] to check out my photo gallery.

I arrived at 4pm and about half of the dancers were already there. The first thing they had to do was check in and be photographed for the fan vote.


Tessa

One thing that seemed really strange that nobody was dancing. Everyone was just standing around. I found out that they’d been instructed not to rehearse until everyone had had their headshot taken. This was so (a) nobody would be sweaty and disheaveled in their photo, and (b) the ladies who arrived early and been photographed first wouldn’t have that extra time to rehearse, while the others were still waiting to be photographed. Makes sense, when you think about it.


Hannah


Jayda and Amber


Rina, Kellie, and Ena (rhymes with “Jenna”) are sorority sisters.


This is Brittany’s 8th audition for the team. Kinda makes her seem old doesn’t it? But she just turned 25 last month. Happy belated!


Choreographer Kristin with Spirit Director Audrea. Kristin was happy to be off-duty for the night.

But as always, any time spent waiting around turned into hijinks.


Brittany

When the last headshot had been taken, DJ Dense turned up the music and the dancers started running through the choreography.


Karissa


Kellie


Tatum, Tessa, Brianna, Brittany, and Natalie


Roxy

After that, it was time to line up and begin the audition

Hip hop was first


Rina


Jerzie


Brittany


Candance


Amber

Once everyone had been through hip hop in groups of three, the judges had them perform it again in larger groups.

After that, it was time to whip of the sweats and do the jazz routine


Kelsey


Gabrielle


Tatum


Brooke


Veronica

Then the ladies went through jazz again, in larger groups

And then it was time for the home stretch…solos!


Tyra


Michelle


Nina


Brianna


Sarah


Sharon

And then, bada boom, bada bing, it was over. Audrea and Marianne wrapped up, thanking everyone for their efforts, explaining a bit more about the fan vote, and advising them to enjoy the next couple of days off before the team’s work weekend.

The ladies are in the midst of that work weekend right now, and have probably learned 5 or 6 new dances in less than 48 hours. Whew! Lots of hard work, and lots of waiting. The fan vote will be open through August 2nd, and the team will be announced early next week. Vote, vote, vote, and watch this space. As soon as I know who made the team, so will you!

Vote for your favorite Clippers Spirit finalists!

The Clippers want your input. Click here to cast your votes!