Put a Dancer and a Prof Together and You Just Might Come up With a Startup

By Cathy Proctor
Denver Business Journal

Many professional dancers have long needed slim, flexible, strong protective pads to protect their knees from repeated impacts on the dance floor.

Just ask a Denver Nuggets dancer.

That need has led to an innovation that, according to its inventors, could dramatically change all kinds of protective equipment, from steel-toed boots at the construction site to football helmets on the field.

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“It’s a hybrid material system, HMS, which can absorb four times more energy from impacts than any other competing product in the world,” said Terry Lowe, a research professor at Colorado School of Mines’ George S. Ansell Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering.

The patented knee pad is made of conventional foam as well as an unusual metal mesh — think steel bridge trusses crossed with a spider’s web — and a fluid that thickens upon impact, Lowe said.

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And yet the pad is as soft as your cheek, flexible and thin — less than 2 millimeters in thickness, said Kady Zinke, a former professional dancer for the Nuggets who turned to Golden’s School of Mines for help inventing a pad to protect knees. She’s teamed with Lowe on the new product.

“There’s nothing else that touches it [in the protective padding world],” Lowe said.

The state last summer gave the project a $30,000 grant, via its Advanced Industries Accelerator Program, to test the concept behind the pad. Lowe says the project is close to getting another round of state funding to test whether the pad can be manufactured at one of eight potential sites in Colorado.

The two figure they’ll need a few million dollars to finish test-manufacturing runs and learn whether the pad can be manufactured profitably, but they’re not worried about coming up with that kind of money.

Lowe said he’s received calls from many potential investors, including parents whose children have been badly hurt playing sports asking if they can invest in the new pad immediately — in hopes that other children might avoid similar injuries.

The project started because Zinke and other dancers were tired of bruised, swollen knees — a routine part of a professional dancer’s life — that result from repeatedly landing on their knees on hard dance floors during practices and performances.

And the knee pads sold in sports stores or big-box stores are no help at all, Zinke said: They’re too big, too bulky, aren’t very good at absorbing the impact, and “you could barely dance in them, much less look cute.”

Zinke has her own line of dance and active wear via her company, Kadyluxe LLC, which has caught the attention of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ cheerleading squad. They asked Zinke to design new costumes for the 2014-15 football season. She also outfitted the University of Colorado Buffaloes’ dance team for the 2013-14 season.

But while the clothing line was taking off, Zinke still wanted to pursue her original vision of a protective knee pad.

So Zinke cold-called the School of Mines, and left a message for a member of Lowe’s engineering department. Her message was passed around, ultimately landing on Lowe’s desk. And he passed it off to a colleague in California.

“My first response was this is ridiculous, impossible, because they needed a designer and they wanted to be in production in a month or so,” Lowe said.

But Zinke didn’t give up.

“I was persistent and kept calling, then one day, I got a phone call back,” Zinke said.

Lowe said he’d had that “ah-hah” moment.

“I woke up one morning and said, ‘Wait, I know a way to do this.’ That was the moment of invention, figuring out that this concept would work,” Lowe said.

He’d figured out a basic problem with pads based on foams, that when they’re hit in one area the impact causes them to bulge in another area — like pushing on a balloon with a finger.

Lowe said he realized that adding a network of metal strands to the foam would allow the pad to absorb more energy and stiffen into a protective pad.

“Part of the reason they can be thin is that it doesn’t matter where you hit it, the entire pad works to absorb the energy,” he said.

“And it’s soft, as soft as your cheek if you push on it slowly. But it you push fast it stiffens,” Lowe said.

And this new pad isn’t limited to protecting dancer’s knees.

It can be used in a football helmet, making it smaller and lighter. Something as light and small as the old leather football helmets used decades ago could be as strong as modern-day helmets, Lowe said.

“We think it’s possible to create something close to your head — 2 millimeters thick — that stiffens up like the shell of the helmet, maybe even stiffer,” he said.

Then there’s steel-toed boots, and other protective padding that workers need. And sheets of cloth that can protect priceless artwork from damage during transport.

Even ski jackets could incorporate the new pad, something Lowe — who said he was nursing his sixth cracked rib from a skiing injury — wishes was already on the market.

“The manufacturing is everything,” Lowe said.

“The concept works. The question is can you manufacture it cost-effectively and can you do it cost-effectively in Colorado? We’re not going to take this offshore. We don’t want to lose control of this,” he said.

Former Laker Girl to Represent California at Miss USA

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Natasha Martinez of Chino Hills will be departing June 27 for the national Miss USA® competition to be televised on NBC. Thousands watched as Martinez was crowned Miss California USA® 2015 on January 11 at the Long Beach Terrace Theater. Martinez is a graduate of Chapman University and is currently the on air host a KDOC-TV. She is a former Los Angeles Laker Girl and was previously a princess and parade performer at Disneyland. The Miss USA® competition will be held at in Baton Rouge, LA and will air live on NBC on Sunday, July 12, 2015. Fifty-one young women from across the country will travel to compete for the coveted title.

NBA Dancers Are More Than A Pretty Face – 1:1 with BlazerDancer Lisa

By Miriam Ludlow
SeattlePI.com

lisaI am a major NBA follower. I appreciate the players on the court, coaches on the sidelines, the fans, and the cheerleaders!

Even though most of the cheerleading performances last a couple of minutes or so, there is a lot behind each one of those. To give OSN’s readers an inside look, I sat down with BlazerDancer Lisa.

Lisa has been with the Portland Trail Blazers for four years. A dancer and gymnast since the age of four, Lisa has an extensive resume as a cheerleader, dancer and instructor. Born and raised in Portland, Lisa has been a Blazers fan all of her life. Having been exposed to the team’s dynamics through her older sister being a former BlazerDancer is no accident.

After hard work and preparation, not only did Lisa join the team when the time was right, she also got to experience dancing side by side with her sister for two years. To tell us about this journey, Lisa in her own words describes it all from day one in an audition to game night.

OSN: Where does one start to become a BlazerDancer?

Lisa: You have to audition.

OSN: What is an audition like?

Lisa: It’s intense. It’s usually in July. It’s a three-day event. The first day usually falls on a Saturday. You go and dance all day. From there the judges make their cuts. The second day the veterans join you and you get to learn three dances. On the final day the Blazers rent out the Newark Performing arts where friends and family join in to support you. Hundreds try out. They have you dance in groups of three and you also do a free style solo that you choreograph. After those they narrow it down to 35 for the finals and the final reveal takes place two days later.

OSN: How do you find out if you made the cut?

Lisa: We all meet at the Moda Center as a big event. You know you made it if your picture comes up on the screen. It’s a very emotional moment for all of us. We all cheer in support to those that made it.

OSN: Ok, your picture is up on the screen, you’ve made it. What happens next?

Lisa: It’s a major commitment for anyone selected. It’s a busy and fast pace job. We practice twice a week for three to four hours. In addition to practices if there is a game we attend and perform that night as well.

OSN: That does sound like a major commitment. Who are these women taking such a commitment on?

Lisa: We come from all backgrounds. We have dental school students, dance teachers anyone that loves to cheer and dance. Most work full time but some are still attending school. They have families, friends, etc.

OSN: What drives someone to become a BlazerDancer?

Lisa: Most of us have a busy and fast pace lifestyle and we enjoy being a BlazerDancer because is a way for us to break away from everyday stuff and get to do something that we enjoy that happens to be completely different than what we do in our every day life.

OSN: What do you do in your daily life?

Lisa: I am in the health insurance industry. It’s a stressful field! For me it’s nice to leave work and be part of the game when we arrive.

OSN: Do you guys dance at all games?

Lisa: Only the home games. But we do a lot of promotional activities on game night. They are very fun. Specially the ones that are for a good cause. Is nice to do something that is community oriented. We work with a lot of charities and support them in their efforts. We have raffles, take pictures, pass out posters, etc.

OSN: What is the time expectancy of a BlazerDancer? Is there an age limit?

Lisa: There isn’t an age limit, however as with any sport and athletic activity there is the risk of injuries that can make a dancer retire early. It’s a very demanding job on the body.

OSN: I imagine so. Do dancers get monetary compensation?

Lisa: Yes we do. It’s a commitment and the team takes care of us. But this really isn’t about the money. We all truly enjoy what we do. The compensation of course is good and a bonus. Getting it is important especially because you are getting paid to do something you love.

OSN: You’ve been a BlazerDancer for four years. What does the future hold for you?

Lisa: My family is local and I will probably be in Portland for a while. I do want to see other places but for now I will continue being a BlazerDancer for as long as I can, but I have to admit it is starting to catch up.

OSN: What do you mean? How so?

Lisa: I used to dance every day of the week for hours and hours. I now dance 2-3 hours and it’s not the same as it was years ago. My technique has improved with time, but is no longer the same.

OSN: Sounds like a major physical and time commitment.

Lisa: Yes it is. It’s a bigger commitment than what people think. Is tough because you have to train really hard as with any other sport. It takes a lot of practice to get better. Time management is key. You need to be organized and prepared. One thing I wasn’t used to was interviews. But I’ve gained the experience and enjoy being part of it all. It’s fun!

OSN: What are the rewards of being a BlazerDancer?

Lisa: That you get to be part of the game. We all have different backgrounds but at game night we all share the same passion, to be able to see our team win.

OSN: What is a game night like for a BlazerDancer?

Lisa: We perform twice during the game. It’s an amazing experience to be able to connect with people who are fans and with those who work with the organization as well. We get to greet those attending and also interact with the Blazers’ operations guest services and security team.

OSN: What drives a BlazerDancer?

Lisa: I think a big part is that you can be a different person. For example: I’m an introvert. Not a super outgoing person. But when I’m on the court dancing I’m someone else. I put it all out there and become a different person. But it really is part of my identity.

OSN: Do you fear not dancing anymore?

Lisa: I don’t fear it. But it would be weird to stop.

OSN: Having been a Blazer’s dancer is a major accomplishment. With that said. What is next for you and other dancers like yourself?

Lisa: To continue dancing. Get better. Now that I am older I am more comfortable with myself. It’s important to know your body. You know how it moves and as you get older you improve in technique. There are many things we learn not only to perform but that can be applied to other areas of your life as well.

OSN: Where do you see yourself in the future?

Lisa: Coaching or teaching. One day I would like to make the transition from athlete to business owner. One of the great things of being a BlazerDancer is that you learn a lot of choreography and you learn it fast. Is not always easy because everyone’s brain is different but I am so used to dancing and learning in a fast pace that I am thankful I have acquired that skill.

OSN: What would you tell all those young athletes/dancers who would like to become a NBA Dancer?

Lisa: To work hard, have discipline and to prepare yourself. There are great ways to learn and get better. And if you can’t make it to look at other options. There are great teams to be part of like the Portland Thunder. The Winterhawks etc.

Personally I found Lisa’s insight to be one of the most amazing learning experiences when it comes to sports.

There is no doubt that NBA cheerleaders/dancers (and in other sports as well) are often seen as just a pretty face. It is my hope that after having read this, our readers will be able to see that these are amazing athletes who have been working for this from a very early age.

The commitment and dedication from each one of them is an example for all of us who have a dream and want to follow it. Persistence, hard work, discipline and commitment are all keys to becoming part of the grand NBA dancing teams.

Lisa recommends that anyone interested on becoming one should check out their local public announcement sources for information.

Auditions are open to anyone over 18 and as per their website their requirements are as follow:

BlazerDancers must attend all practices, games, training camps and mandatory Portland Trail Blazers events. BlazerDancer duties include community service events, appearances and photo shoots.

Must be able to attend practices every Thursday and Sunday evening (beginning in mid-August; times TBD). Additional practices may be added throughout the season.

Must have reliable transportation to practices, games, appearances, etc.

Must meet and maintain personal appearance, fitness level, and dancing skill requirements throughout the season.

Must abide by the other Terms and Conditions included with application materials.

If you are a NBA follower, especially a Blazers one, don’t forget to cheer along with Lisa on the next game night!

[Lisa at the Blazers website]

Endicott grad Cara Desjarlais enjoying rookie season with Boston Celtics Dancers

The Beverly Citizen
April 9, 2015

2014 Celtics_Cara3 Cara Desjarlais dances to a different tune – One that’s usually blared full blast over the TD Garden sound system.

The Brockton native and Endicott graduate is one of the newest members of the Boston Celtics Dance Team. Desjarlais is one of seven rookies to make the 16-member squad, which was chosen from a field of approximately 200 hopefuls that auditioned last June.

For the past six months, the South Boston resident has been a regular on the parquet floor, rooting on Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and the rest of the Boston Celtics in front of capacity crowds of 18,624 each night.

“It’s been awesome,” said Desjarlais. “Now that the [regular] season is coming to an end its really sad, actually. It just goes by so fast. When you first start you have so many games, but it goes by way too fast.”

The Celtics wrap up the regular season April 15 in Milawaukee.

Her rookie season has come with a few unexpected surprises. Despite dealing some big name players, the Celtics have suddenly found themselves back in the playoff chase, putting added emphasis on the final weeks.

“The games have bee so much fun,” said Desjarlais, 25. “Everyone is in the playoff push mindset, so the Garden’s been packed and everyone is really rooting for the Celtics. So I’m super excited to enjoy these last few games.”

This marks the ninth season in which the Celtics Dancers have provided entertainment at TD Garden. They perform at every home game in addition to making off-the-court appearances at other Celtics events throughout the season.

On a typical game night, Desjarlais and her team usually arrive at the TD Garden three hours before tipoff. From there, they go through a rigorous hour-long court rehearsal, leading up to game time.

The Celtics Dancers perform during pregame player introductions, as well as two dance routines during timeouts in each half.

Desjarlais made her debut on Oct. 29 for the Celtics season opener against the Brooklyn Nets.

“That was very nerve-wracking, because there were a lot of veterans that already know the deal, but (as rookies) we had no idea where to stand or what to do,” she said “But we went through it all in practice. So it was really nerve-wracking, but a lot of fun.”

One of her favorites moments this season occurred when the team performed a halftime routine.

“That was really demanding,” Desjarlais said. “It was five minutes long, so we combined a bunch of our dances, but it was really nice that we got to showcase and dance a lot more in that game.”

Former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Signs with VIP Ink Publishing

VIP Ink Publishing
April 8, 2015

Former New Orleans Saintsation, New Orleans Hornets Honeybee, and Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Deryn Derbigny has signed with VIP Ink Publishing to tell her story of overcoming the obstacles she faced in achieving her success as a professional dancer. Her story is one of perseverance and is an encouragement to many.

Deryn

Deryn is a 32-year-old native of New Orleans, Louisiana. She has spent countless years polishing her skills as a professional dancer. As a five-year member of the New Orleans Saintsations, she was chosen to represent the team as a Pro-Bowl Cheerleader. After losing everything and being displaced by Hurricane Katrina, she continued her professional cheer-leading career as a member of the World Renowned Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. As a member of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, she was afforded the opportunity to tour overseas in the team’s elite show group.
Deryn has proven her diversity in the NBA as a member of the New Orleans Hornets Honeybees.

As a child of a single parent household, she has faced all challenges head on and prevailed. At no point did she allow herself to become a victim of her circumstances. Deryn has gone on to become a loving mother of two children and a professional entrepreneur. She is now the owner and part owner of several up and coming businesses.

Deryn and VIP Ink Publishing will be working together to publish her book in the near future.

SI.com: Charlotte Hornets Honeybees

Click here to check out some great photos of the Hornets Dance Team in Action!

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Photo of the Day – April 9 – (Throwback Thursday)

A Trio of Charlotte LadyCats

Ni Hao From The Sixers Dancers

From Sixers.com

Ni Hao from Beijing, China!

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Amanda and Rachael here, just finishing up our rookie season with the Philadelphia 76ers! The two of us, along with four of our teammates, were chosen to represent the Sixers organization in Beijing, and the experience was amazing! Our three days here were filled with performances, appearances, and the wonderful opportunity to explore this beautiful city.

We boarded a 15-hour flight on Monday morning and arrived in Beijing on Tuesday afternoon. That evening, we had a rehearsal at the Convention Center of China for our performance the next day. Wednesday morning began with an early meeting with our tour guide and a trip to the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City consists of 9,999 and 1/2 rooms that were once used for many different purposes. Afterwards, we were able to attend a traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony which was enlightening and fun. Later that evening, we arrived at the National Convention Center of China to perform our five routines. We were provided with the opportunity to perform at two different venues. The first venue was to promote one of NBA China’s sponsors, Harbin Beer. The second performance was at a large dinner gala in front of over 1,000 people for the entire promotional event. To close up the evening, we attended a traditional Chinese dinner at a famous restaurant in the heart of Beijing

The next day, we ventured to the country side to visit the Great Wall of China. We successfully climbed through six towers of the Great Wall! As we continued our climb, we experienced a changes in weather, from fog to rain and even snow! After our descent back down the mountain side, we were educated about bartering with the local shop-keepers to purchase keepsakes for our family and friends.

After the long ride back to the city, we were presented with an amazing opportunity! We were invited to visit the NBA China office. Upon arrival, we were able to meet many of the staff and take a tour of the entire office. It was a great experience and was really fun to see the connections between the NBA in the U.S. and China. To prepare for our long ride home, we were able to experience a traditional Chinese massage.

Overall, being able to visit Beijing was an amazing opportunity in itself. The most memorable site we saw was definitely the Great Wall. The sheer length of the wall and the fact that it was all hand made was astounding! But our favorite part of the trip was being able to represent the Philadelphia 76ers organization as well as the league in NBA China’s Harbin Beer Event. We’re so thankful for this life-changing opportunity. Until next time, zai jian!

[Sixers Dancers in China Gallery]

Spurs’ Silver Dancers Driven by World Car

The San Antonio Spurs. Perhaps nothing in the Alamo City unifies the locals together like our beloved NBA team, who won their fifth championship last summer as they throttled the Miami Heat with a 4-1 NBA Finals series win.

But beyond the glitz and glamour of the Spurs championship pedigree over the years, are people who work just as hard behind the scenes. And front and center of that hard work are the Spurs Silver Dancers, who are sponsored by World Car.

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Their ability get the crowd to cheer and yell as loud as they possibly can has given the Spurs one of the best home court advantages in league. Their knack to galvanize people doesn’t stop on game day, as these young ladies are prominent pillars of hope for the youth of our society.

Dance, Dance, Dance

Dancer Taylor, from San Antonio, was one of six dancers who recently participated in a photo shoot featuring a 2015 KIA Soul and 2015 KIA Optima.

Taylor said she has been dancing since she was in high school and was proud to be member of the Spurs dance team.

“I like it,” she said. “It’s always fun to do charity events, visit group homes, and of course watch the Spurs play and get the crowd going.

“This season, the game that really stands out for me was the first game,” she added. “It was against the Mavericks and of course we had the ring ceremony. It was just such a festive atmosphere and a joy to be a part of.”

photo 9 300×219 Spurs Silver Dancers Driven by World Car Paige, from Austin, added that she has been dancing for 12 years and felt a strong sense of fulfillment when she became a member of the Silver Dancers.

“It’s a really good feeling,” she explained. “It’s a passion that you’ve fallowed your whole life and it has paid off into becoming a professional dancer. You’re out there doing what you love to do, which is dancing and performing.”

Jaclyn, from Kyle, said she was attending UTSA when she found out about an open audition and jumped at the chance to try out.

“It was a long time coming,” she said. “Dancing is a sport onto itself, a definite cardio workout. We’re really a big deal. When we visit kids they think we’re like superheroes and they want to take pictures with us and it’s a great feeling to be a positive role model in the community.”

Jaclyn said that she enjoys meeting new people at different events and being a Silver Dancer allowed her to visit Berlin, Germany and Istanbul, Turkey this preseason when the Spurs participated in the NBA’s global game series.

“It was great,” she added. “We were on a plane with Coach Pop and all the players and collectively (as dancers) we got to do some sight-seeing. There is never a dull moment being a part of the Spurs.”

Doug Hester, Partnership Activation Coordinator for Spurs Sports and Entertainment, said working with the Spurs organization was a dream come true and that he thoroughly enjoys his job, which includes working with organizations like World Car.

“I activate and full fill partnerships with sponsors,” he said. “I enjoy working with the Spurs as it lets me see the games from a different perspective. Sometimes, I do have encounters with the players. Matt Bonner is a really personable guy and so is Patty Mills.”

Hester recently purchased a Mazda3 from World Car and couldn’t be happier with his investment.

“It’s a good car,” he said. “I wanted a stick shift, a 4.0 cylinder car, and this one is sporty and fun. Best of all its economical.”

Katie Gibbons, coordinator for the Silver Dancers, said it was imperative for the group to not only give back to the community, but to support the sponsor that allows them to bring the Spurs’ crowd to life during time-outs on game day.

“When it comes to a partnership, where we’re presenting ourselves at events then (photo) shoots like this are fun to do,” she said. “World Car has been great and it’s fun to be a part of the partnership and give back to them.”

See more photos from the shoot here.

Friday Night With The Laker Girls

So I went to an L.A. D-Fenders game on Friday, something I haven’t done in a few years.  I was there with a friend, who always tries to catch a game at the Toyota Center every time he’s in town during the season.  Why?  Because the D-Fenders’ dance team are the Laker Girls.  And it is a rare treat when you can see the Laker Girls up close and personal.

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See more Laker Girl photos at my personal website, thehottestdanceteam.wordpress.com.

Meet the Brooklynettes, The Brooklyn Nets’ Dance Team

by Margaret Fuhrer
Dance Spirit

The first clue that the Brooklynettes aren’t your average dance team is what they’re wearing. They’re more likely to strut onto the Barclays Center court in wedge sneakers than heels; their graphic black-and-white uniforms are urban chic, not girly-girl cute (though, to be fair, they’re known to sport a sequin or two).

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But then the dancers start to move. And as they blaze through high-octane, hard-edged choreography by an industry A-lister, you realize that this isn’t just the best-dressed dance team you’ve ever seen. It’s the best dance team you’ve ever seen, period.

In fact, the Brooklynettes—who’ve been entertaining Brooklyn Nets fans since the team’s move from New Jersey to Brooklyn, NY, in 2012—are changing what it means to dance for the NBA. Their top-notch dancers are attracting big-name choreographers, artists who aren’t otherwise associated with the dance team world. And their every move reflects the diversity, creativity and grit of the borough they call home.
(Photo by Erin Baiano)

That Brooklyn Feel

When it was first announced that the New Jersey Nets would become the Brooklyn Nets, Adar Wellington—coach of the team then known as the New Jersey Nets Dancers—knew some major changes were in order. “We wanted to reimagine the dance team so it truly represented the city,” says Wellington, whose own impressive dance career includes
several seasons with the NJ Nets Dancers and tours with Rihanna and Ashanti. “Brooklyn is so cool and effortless, and it has this edgy, rough feel to it.”

To Brooklyn-ify the renamed Brooklynettes, the artistic crew made hip hop the team’s new foundation. “When you think Brooklyn, you automatically think hip hop,” says current Brooklynettes captain Amanda Robinson. “In keeping with that, our choreography is very street, very gritty.” But the team also wanted to incorporate the borough’s myriad other musical influences. “Around here, there’s everything as far as
music goes,” Wellington says. “We’ve got jazz, we’ve got Latin, we’ve got swing. And it was important to us to recognize that diversity in our routines.”

The resulting melting-pot-with-an-edge style not only separates the Brooklynettes from other pro dance teams—it actually puts them right in line with commercial industry trends. “What the Brooklynettes are giving you is what people are seeing in television, film and music videos right now,” says frequent Brooklynettes choreographer Tanisha Scott, who’s worked with Rihanna and Beyoncé.

Read the rest here.

Photo of the Day – March 17

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A Boston Cetlics Dancer

Photo of the Day – March 16

A New Jersey Nets Dancer

Phoenix Suns Dancers Help Make Young Fan’s Dream Come True

Ten-year-old Ella Parkhill had a wish, and it was to be part of the Phoenix Suns’ dance team.

She got that wish.

Ella has a weakened heart and lungs due to hypertension, and as part of the Make a Wish Foundation, she got to be part of the dance team Wednesday.

She practiced with the group, hung out with the dancers prior to the game, and got on the court with them as they performed for the crowd during the Suns’ home game with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Like Mother, Like Silver Dancer

By Lorne Chan
Spurs.com

spursStefani Montiel may be a Grammy-nominated Tejano star, but for 16 years, she’s been upstaged over and over again by the same person:

Zavala is Montiel’s daughter, and even as a toddler she would wander on stage during her mother’s shows, striking poses and hugging fans in the front row. Zavala may be the youngest of the Silver Dancers at 18 years old, but she’s played to crowds for almost her entire life.

“She would pretty much take over the show starting all the way back to when she was 2,” Stefani Montiel said. “She grew up around performing, and it was like she was destined to do what she’s doing now.”

Mother and daughter will be on the AT&T Center court together on Sunday for Los Spurs day, when the Silver and Black face Chicago. Montiel will be singing, while her daughter provides backup.

Montiel has performed the national anthem at Spurs games before, and her cover band Lush also has played at the AT&T Center’s Overtime after games. Montiel will be back to perform at Overtime on April 3. Her daughter, meanwhile, is in her first season as a Silver Dancer.

“I’ve gotten a little better at dancing since I was 2,” Zavala said. “Once, I did a pose during a game that someone noticed looked exactly like my mom’s pose on a CD cover. I didn’t plan it or anything, it was just natural.”

Montiel has won numerous Tejano Music Awards and has been nominated for three Grammy Awards and three Latin Grammy Awards. But she said performing in front of 10,000 fans doesn’t compare to watching her daughter dance in front of a packed crowd at the AT&T Center.

“I’m so proud,” Montiel said. “It’s surreal, because even when she’s on the court, she’s still my little girl.”

When Montiel goes to Spurs games, she ends up watching the dancers more than any of the action on the floor.

“She has a dance background too, so she’ll record our routines,” Ileah said. “I think my mom notices more with my dancing than any coach ever has.”

Ileah grew up on the road, following her parents as they were on tour for about 200 days a year when she was young. Ileah’s father and Stefani’s husband Gabriel Zavala also is Stefani’ producer.

Stefani said she never wanted to push her daughter into performing, but Ileah always ended up dancing anyway. Ileah said she may follow her mother into singing some day, but for now, she’s “living a dream” as a Silver Dancer.

By the time Ileah was 16, she officially became one of Stefani’s backup dancers. She still performs with her mother sometimes, although life as a Silver Dancer has become the priority. In January, Zavala missed a game to perform with her mother on a “Tejano Legends” cruise trip to Jamaica.

When Ileah was 17, she was captain of dance team for the San Antonio Talons, an Arena Football League team.

But Ileah, who graduated from Brennan High School last year, said she still didn’t think she would make the cut for the Silver Dancers when she auditioned over summer.

Her mother had no doubt.

“I’ve been performing for years, but I’ve never seen anyone as naturally comfortable as Ileah when she’s up there,” Stefani said. “She has these big dreams, and you could always tell she was a budding superstar.”

[Ileah and Stefani Gallery]