Former Dancers Help Former Troops

From KXL.com

The group Vets 4 Vets started last year, after the Blazer Dancers were getting dozens of requests to visit troops and military vets. They were in such demand that a group of former Blazer dancers decided to start their own group. The 14 women represent several professional sports teams in addition to the Blazers, including the Seattle Sonics and Seahawks, even the old Portland Lumberjacks. The group has visited several V.A. centers in Oregon and has been to Joint Base Lewis McChord a few times. At Christmas they send cards to the troops serving overseas. Vets 4 Vets Secretary Desiree Goode, Blazer Dancer from 2001-2006, says the goal is just to show vets and troops some appreciation. Vets 4 Vets has applied for non-profit status, which means until then, they can’t accept donations. The members currently pay for all expenses out of pocket. If non-profit status is granted, the group plans to do more outings and put together a calender they can send to troops every year.

[Vets 4 Vets on Facebook]

Finalists Selected For 2012-13 BlazerDancers

Sarah Hecht
Portland Trailblazers
July 18, 2012

Last Saturday and Sunday eager dancers converged on the Trail Blazers’ Tualatin practice facility to put their skills to work for a chance to earn one of 16 coveted spots as a 2012-13 BlazerDancer.

Day one saw the field of new hopefuls learn multiple routines and perform them for the judges of the day—the panel was composed of Trail Blazers broadcasters, local media members and former dancers. The group was narrowed through two rounds of cuts and the remaining dancers learned yet another routine to practice and perform the next day.

[Check out this video of all the day one action.]

The Sunday returners danced before another panel of judges for one more round of cuts. After the morning of auditions the finalists were announced and veterans, who are automatically included in the finals, joined the narrowed field to learn the routines for the finals.

Now, the talented finalists have a week to practice their finals routines and prepare solos before the final audition takes place this Saturday. With every spot up for grabs each year even the veteran dancers are hard at work.

You can watch the entire Finals via a live stream on Trailblazers.tv starting at 12pm this Saturday, July 21st.

[Enjoy a full photo gallery of the first weekend of auditions.]

Former BlazerDancer Raising Funds for Solo Album

Shannon Bex grew up in Bend and graduated from Mt View High School. She returned 5 years ago with her husband Ron Basada. Shannon was a Blazer Dancer for 5 years. She then went on the show Fame in which she got runner up. Later Shannon was featured on MTV’s show Making The Band in which P.Diddy selected her as one of the 5 members to make up the music group Danity Kane. The group went Double Platinum. After it’s final episode on MTV, Shannon started pursuing her solo career in country soul.

Shannon is currently working with Pledge EP to launch her solo album. The EP album will only go through if Shannon reaches 100% of the money needed. So far with the pledges made by fans she is at 67%. She has only 4 more days with approximately $6,000 left to raise. If she does not reach the goal, EP will not complete the album and those who donated will be refunded their money. If she does reach her goal, 8% will go to OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and her Solo Album will be produced.

This is a life long dream for Shannon and she has worked hard to achieve it. Shannon really needs the support of her home town at this late hour to help reach this goal. She is loved by all of her fans as she is a sweet, humble, and amazing women. Shannon is also known in Oregon from the years she spent as a BlazerDancer and singing the national anthem at Blazer games. Please help Shannon raise sufficient funds in time by going to her website today and pledging money for any of the packages offered.

[Shannon’s Project at PledgeMusic.com]

[Shannon Bex Official Website]

Aloha Stories

Aloha High School teacher and former Blazers dancer says Aloha High crowd was better than any Blazers game

By Casey Parks
The Oregonian

For about 10 years, Aloha High School health teacher Marlene Kanehailua pulled double-duty as a dancer for the Portland Trailblazers. In 2000, her worlds collided when the Blazer Dancers performed at the first Aloha High School Jam the Gym. In her “Aloha Story,” she talks about how much better the Aloha crowd was than a typical basketball fan crowd.

“The crowd went crazy,” she said. “For me, it was like wow.”

Listen to Marlene’s story or download the mp3 here.

2011-12 BlazerDancers

The Portland Trailblazers dance team is ready for action! Click here to check out their new photos.

2011-12 BlazerDancers

The Portland Trailblazers website has been updated with new photos of this year’s squad. Click here to go there now.

Rachel, Veronica, and Kelly

Video: NBA Madness in the Philippines

BlazerDancers In Manila: NBA Madness Ensues

By Sarah Hecht
Portland Trailblazers
9/30/2011

[Photo Gallery]

The BlazerDancers are in the midst of a whirlwind NBA Madness tour of the Philippines with NBA Legend Clyde Drexler . As one of two NBA dance teams—the other being the Magic Dancers—representing the league, they’re sharing hoops with the people of Manila on a non-stop adventure.

Sunday afternoon six BlazerDancers—Eri, Rea, Michelle, Stephanie, Kimberly and CaMicha—accompanied by Performance Teams Manager Michelle Woodard began their journey and hopped a 16-hour flight bound for the Philippines.

Day one saw the tour grind to a halt before even starting. What was supposed to be a well-oiled itinerary was thrown asunder by a visit from Typhoon Nesat. Racing winds coupled with drenching rains resulted in the cancellation of NBA Madness plans for the day.

A day later, after the storm cleared, activities resumed at a break-neck pace. St. Dominic College of Asia played host to the opening events of day two. Drexler instructed eager students at a hoops clinic and the BlazerDancers taught a routine during their time on stage.

Woodard called the enthusiasm at St. Dominic’s the highlight of the day. “It was the most incredible, overwhelmingly fun experience I think for any of us,” Woodard said. “We were shocked at how enthusiastic the kids were. It was insanity. They were excited before people got there and then they sustained that energy for two hours.”

With NBA mania in full swing in Manila the BlazerDancers moved into a third day jam-packed with events. BlazerDancer Eri engaged in a very special experience. Of Japanese descent, and fluent in the language, she held an interview with TV WOWOW of Tokyo and graciously posed for a small photo shoot—sure to result with her being marketed in Japan. The media session was followed by another school assembly and the NBA Madness crew rounded out the day at a pop-a-shot challenge hosted by Coors Light.

Reception for the NBA ambassadors has been through the roof. “They’re just excited about the NBA period. There have been some really good emcees so they get the crowd going and really amped up and we’ve been told everywhere that the Philippines, surprisingly, are huge basketball fans overall,” said Woodard.

As the NBA Madness marquee event draws nearer Drexler, the BlazerDancers and the Magic Dance team continue to promote the sport to an enthusiastic fan base halfway around the world.

Stay tuned for more from Clyde Drexler and the BlazerDancers at NBA Madness!

NBA Madness Stops in the Philippines

The NBA Madness 2011 tour stopped in Manilla this week to bring a dash of excitement to local fans. The tour is a traveling event that features famous NBA alumni, dance teams, the league’s outreach programs, and of course lots of basketball. This year the Portland Trail Blazers BlazerDancers and Orlando Magic Dancers are part of the fun.

Click here or here for photos.

BlazerDancers at the Pro Action Dance Intensive in Las Vegas

Portland TrailBlazers

[Watch the Video]

[photo gallery]

BlazerDancers Michelle and Veronica along with Performance Teams Manager Michelle attended the 2011 Pro Action Dance Intensive at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. The conference brings together dancers from many pro teams such as the Celtics, Kings, 76’ers, Hawks and Nuggets as well as strong college dance programs like Ball State, USC and of course University of Oregon to name a few.

Dancers learned routines to songs like Sandman, Born This Way, Vertigo, Shake Senora and We Got The Beat with talented and renowned choreographers Mina Ortega, Tony Gonzales, Marina Ortega, Andy Vaca, John Peters and Shandon Kolberg. We were able to learn some really fantastic routines that we’ll be able to teach our teammates next month when practices begin.

We can’t wait to share our new routines with the fans in the Rose Garden!

2011-12 BlazerDancers Announced

After weeks of tryouts and competition, 16 dancers became the 2011-12 Portland Trail Blazers’ BlazerDancers today.

In order to claim one of the coveted 16 spots on the 24th edition of the BlazerDancers, hopefuls had to go through a rigorous audition schedule that began July 9, at the Trail Blazers Practice Facility in Tualatin. Dancers were taught and judged on three different routines. Those that survived the cuts made it into the finals, and were joined on Sunday by any dancer that was on last year’s team and wished to reclaim her spot. All 16 spots are up for grabs, and while last years dancers get a bye into the finals, even those hoping to return for another season have to compete and earn their spot.

“We had one of our strongest groups in a long time this year, so the competition was very intense,” said Trail Blazers Performance Teams Manager Michelle Woodard. “It’s been a long process, and we are excited to announce to our fans who made the cut tonight on Courtside.”

All 36 finalists performed the three routines that they learned the previous weekend at the Winningstad Theater. In addition to the three group routines, all finalists were required to choreograph a one-minute solo routine and perform an unexpected 30-second “Hot Time Out” routine at the end of the day. As if that wasn’t enough, finalists who weren’t on the team last year were required to have an interview with members of the front office staff to ensure that those selected are great representatives of the Trail Blazers organization both on and off the court.

2011-12 BlazerDancer Team Announced

Source: Portland Trailblazers

[Photo Gallery]

[Videos]

After weeks of tryouts and competition, 16 dancers will become the 2011-12 Portland Trail Blazers’ BlazerDancers today, announced live on Courtside tonight at 6 p.m., and on Trailblazers.com shortly thereafter.

Their first public appearance will be tomorrow, Tuesday, July 19, on KGW’s Live @ 7 show with Stephanie Stricklen.

In order to claim one of the coveted 16 spots on the 24th edition of the BlazerDancers, hopefuls had to go through a rigorous audition schedule that began July 9, at the Trail Blazers Practice Facility in Tualatin. Dancers were taught and judged on three different routines. Those that survived the cuts made it into the finals, and were joined on Sunday by any dancer that was on last year’s team and wished to reclaim her spot. All 16 spots are up for grabs, and while last years dancers get a bye into the finals, even those hoping to return for another season have to compete and earn their spot.

“We had one of our strongest groups in a long time this year, so the competition was very intense,” said Trail Blazers Performance Teams Manager Michelle Woodard. “It’s been a long process, and we are excited to announce to our fans who made the cut tonight on Courtside.”

All 36 finalists performed the three routines that they learned the previous weekend at the Winningstad Theater. In addition to the three group routines, all finalists were required to choreograph a one-minute solo routine and perform an unexpected 30-second “Hot Time Out” routine at the end of the day. As if that wasn’t enough, finalists who weren’t on the team last year were required to have an interview with members of the front office staff to ensure that those selected are great representatives of the Trail Blazers organization both on and off the court.

Recognized as one of the top dance teams in the NBA, the BlazerDancers engage fans and perform exciting routines at every Trail Blazers home game. The BlazerDancers also make countless charitable and promotional appearances throughout the greater Portland area and have historically been asked to represent the Trail Blazers and the NBA overseas in China.

BlazerDancers Auditions: A Two-Day Road To The Finals

Sara Hecht
Trailblazers.com
July 11, 2011

The line outside the Trail Blazers practice facility wrapped around the parking lot. Sixty-nine new hopefuls for the 2011-2012 BlazerDancers were taking deep breaths to calm their nerves before entering the gym to participate in a grueling audition process for the major professional dance squad in the Rose City.

Day one was nine solid hours of learning choreography, practicing and performing for the judges. Three rounds of cuts narrowed the field as the day progressed. The first round, a technique routine, eased the girls into the speed of the day. The second round upped the ante in difficulty and the third round, an actual routine performed by BlazerDancers this season, pushed the girls even further.

The women fighting through the process, faced an extreme version of what many of them know as dancers. As athletes they experience tough workouts, fatigue and injuries. Band-aids and ice all made appearances on this day. The strength and endurance they’ve built over their tenures as artists were put to the test.

The audition process isn’t just a physical battle, but a mental one as well. For BlazerDancers, being an ambassador and performer for the organization isn’t their only job.

The search for BlazerDancers is an extensive process, and rightly so. Todd Bosma, Director of Game Operations, described a typical game day for a BlazerDancer, “You get to your real job, you do that from 9 to 4:30 or so and if you’re a BlazerDancer you come to the arena and then you start getting ready to be a dancer, that’s a long day. So you have to be physically able to handle that and then mentally you’re performing in front of 20,00 fans. I think the audition process is a good way for us to start seeing who physically and mentally can handle being out there.”

The search for BlazerDancers is an extensive process, and rightly so.

The next day the 25 girls who survived day one were joined by the 11 BlazerDancers veterans returning to audition for their spots on the team for the 2011-2012 season. There are no guarantees for the veterans, they have to earn their titles just like everyone else.

Looking forward, the finalists face a round of interviews and a final performance of the the three routines they learned on day two, as well as a solo of their own making.

After that… the promised land and a season spent as a BlazerDancer.

See the photo gallery of BlazerDancers auditions.

Tigard’s Stephanie Anderson is now a Blazer Dancer

By Mikel Kelly
The Tigard Times

stephblazAs odd as it may sound, Stephanie Anderson quit her full-time job as a development assistant in university advancement at Southern California’s Chapman University just to try for a hard-to-get, part-time position in Portland.

A member of Tigard High School’s class of 2005, Anderson was recently named one of the 16 new BlazerDancers, following a rigorous July audition process that drew 11 existing members of the dance team along with 77 new hopefuls.

“The BlazerDancers is something I wanted to do for a long time,” said Anderson, whose resume lists dance training and experience at Chapman, with the Tigerettes dance team in high school, with the Junior Blazer Dancers and early years at the Westside Dance Academy in Tigard. “I felt I would have kicked myself if I didn’t try out this year. It was very hard to leave California, but I knew it was worth it.”

Anderson is now one of four women on the Blazers dance team with Tigard backgrounds. The others are Cristi Bitz, Leisel Stohr and Eri Janagawa.

What is it about Tigard that seems to inspire (not to mention actually qualify) young women to become a BlazerDancer?

Anderson couldn’t help but laugh about that, but then she gave it some thought because it had obviously crossed her mind.

“We all have some background in dance training at Westside Dance Academy,” she said. “And we were all on the Tigerettes.

“Tigard has groomed us well for being on a dance team,” she added.

The daughter of Steve and Mary Ann Anderson of Tigard, Stephanie graduated from the Conservatory of Music at Chapman in 2009. Although she’s always pursued dance, she also sings and acts.

“I just love to perform” she said. “It’s such an adrenaline rush.”

And the Rose Garden crowds for Trail Blazer games are big, loud and appreciative, she pointed out.

Being a BlazerDancer is not a full-time gig.

“We do get paid minimally for games and appearances,” she said. “It is definitely a part-time job.”

But it was not an easy one to get.

On the second day of tryouts, the field of hopefuls was cut down to 33 finalists – still more than twice as many as needed.

“The finalists spent the next week going through interviews with Trail Blazers representatives,” according to the team’s website, “practicing the three finals routines that they learned and creating a solo routine to perform at the finals.

“When the dancers arrived for the finals at the Winningstad Theater in Portland’s Center for the Performing Arts, they were surprised with an additional dance to perform and only one hour to prepare for it. Luckily, this was a free-style ‘hot time-out’ dance that didn’t require any choreography, but instead was meant to showcase the dancers’ personalities and their ability to have fun and play to the crowd.”

After they’d performed five routines, the dancers’ scores were tallied by the judges, and the audition process was over. Then they had to wait 24 hours to find out whether they had made the team.

“It was very intense,” Anderson said of the audition process. “You had to come ready – and I did feel ready.”

The “hot time-out” portion was unexpected, she said.

“That was a surprise, but you just kind of had to go for it,” she said. “You just think, ‘Oh, well, I’ve got nothing to lose,’ so you just go out there and do it.”

Meanwhile, she’s looking for other ways to keep busy, “whether it will be at the Rose Garden with BlazerDancers – hopefully for many seasons! – or on the theater stage while also keeping up with singing.”

“I love teaching and hope to pass along this love to young children,” she said. “I enjoy teaching dance classes and also choreographing for various dance teams and studios. I plan on helping a couple of dance teams around the area this next year with choreography.

Other long-term goals, she said, include working in a Portland-area university “on the administrative side.”

So, even though she’s technically only working part-time, Anderson is on a high right now.

“This is a huge deal,” she said. “I don’t know how I can fully express how excited I am.”

On 5th try, Vancouver woman earns spot on Blazer Dancers

2010-blazers-audition_1By Erin Middlewood
Staff Reporter
The Columbian
August 20, 2010

Amanda Greger almost gave up.

She had auditioned four times for the Portland Trail Blazers’ dance team.

“After I didn’t make it last year, I thought maybe dancing wasn’t my thing,” said Greger, a 22-year-old Vancouver resident.

Before calling it quits, she decided to ask judges for their feedback.

“They said I’m a good dancer, but I’d be a better candidate if I was more fit,” she said.

She hired a personal trainer at 24 Hour Fitness in January. When he asked her about her fitness goals, she got straight to the point: “I want to be a BlazerDancer.”

“I wasn’t huge,” she said. “I just wasn’t toned. The trainer’s term was ‘soft.’”

She started lifting weights. She replaced the cereal she was eating for nearly every meal with oatmeal, chicken, veggies and protein shakes. In July, 15 pounds lighter and toned, she returned to audition yet again.

This time, she made it.

Greger traces her passion for dancing to her freshman year at Heritage High School, when she tried out for the dance team.

“I don’t know how I made it,” she said with a laugh. “I was really bad.”

But she stuck with it. After graduating in 2006, she attended the International Air Academy and scored a job based in Seattle with Continental Airlines. She was hit by a car when she was in Cleveland for training. The accident injured her shoulder, and she came home to Vancouver.

Then she got a job with a bank, and decided to return to dancing in her spare time. She joined Groove Nation Academy. She landed a gig dancing for the Vancouver Volcanoes in 2007, and the Portland Winterhawks in 2009.

But she always had her sights set on becoming a BlazerDancer.

2010-blazers-audition_2

It’s not uncommon for aspirants to try out for the team several times, said Michelle Woodard, the Blazers’ performance teams manager, adding that she thinks Greger may have set a record.

“I think coming back five times is pretty unique,” Woodard said. “The audition process is very grueling. You have to be very physically fit.”

The preliminaries include three rounds of cuts in two days. Aspirants learn a new routine for each round.

“It’s stressful,” Woodard said. “You have to learn quickly.”

Judges seek strong dance skills, but not a cookie-cutter look, Woodard said. In fact, the team strives to have dancers look different from each other, but they all have a certain presence, she said.

“They all have an ‘it’ factor, a ‘look-at-me factor,’” she said.

Greger is thrilled judges decided she has what it takes to be a BlazerDancer. In her struggle to make the team, she has drawn inspiration from her roommate, 23-year-old Michelle Johnson, who became a BlazerDancer last year.

“Living with her and knowing she made it was so motivating for me,” she said.

Greger plans to continue taking classes at Clark College and working part time. BlazerDancers earn minimum wage for two 5-hour practices a week and games, and $75 an hour for publicity appearances.

She will have to audition again to keep her spot on the team next year, but she’s already planning on it.

“I want to dance for the Blazers as long as my body will take it.”