Alyssa Munson’s dream of dancing has been evident throughout her childhood and even into her collegiate years.
The University of Texas at Austin senior said she’s been heavily involved in different activities — including swim, gymnastics, soccer and tee ball — since she was a little girl.
Her most recent accomplishment, nabbing a spot on the San Antonio Spurs Silver Dancers team in July, is a testament to the hard work and dedication that she’s developed and invested over time.
“I rekindled a passion for dance in middle school, where I was an inaugural member of Brabham Middle School’s Sophistikats,” Munson said.
While there and later as a Willis High School Sweetheart Munson learned the dancing and leadership fundamentals that have established her as a professional today.
The biology major and business minor also spent time as a dancer and later co-director for the Austin Vipers semi-pro football team, but a life-threatening incident in the spring of 2012 had the potential of putting her dancing career to a halt.
“I was in a car wreck and broke my cervical vertebrae,” Munson said. “It was pretty bad, and all I was thinking about was ‘I’m a dancer, how can my neck be broken.”
Pam Munson Jones, Munson’s mother, said that she was afraid her daughter may never walk again.
“She was at risk of being paralyzed,” Jones said. “It was a really scary time. She couldn’t walk, she couldn’t take care of herself — it truly is a miracle that she is alive and how far she’s come in three years. If you look at her now you’d never know, but we know.”
Munson spent the next few months regaining her strength, determined to get back on the Vipers field when she returned to school that fall.
Almost three years later, Munson said a group of her friends encouraged her to audition for the San Antonio Spurs Silver Dancers team in July.
“Being a professional dancer for the NFL or NBA has always been a dream of mine, but I never had a timeline,” Munson said. “It was kind of a spontaneous decision.”
Munson attended the first day of tryouts in Austin competing against about 200 other dancers for a spot in the second round.
After a series of cuts, rigorous boot camps with tough choreography and one-on-one interviews with Spurs executives and the director of the Silver Dancers, Munson made it to the final round, a public performance at the Arneson River Theater, vying for one of 16 spots with 29 other women.
Munson was selected along with a handful of other rookies for a spot on the squad.
“I was really grateful because I got to have my friends, my boyfriend and my family,” Munson said. “It was definitely one of the greatest days that I’ve had so far.”
“She’s really living her dream,” Jones said. “The Spurs is a great organization and we’re extremely proud of her.”
Munson said her plans after graduating next spring aren’t yet set in stone, but she is considering medical school with no desires to put her dancing shoes down in the foreseeable future.
To young women and girls from small towns who also have big aspirations for large platforms, Munson said to use every opportunity as a stepping stone.
“Growing up in my small town, I loved it,” she said. “I definitely got all the preparation I needed to be successful with dancing and drill team. I was really involved with the community.
“The Silver Dancers are major ambassadors for the Spurs brand, and the face that people see out there giving back and being active. That sets a good example for girls to look up to even if they don’t want to be an NBA dancer, I hope they see that you can come from any background and make a dream come true.”
A Killeen-area resident recently was selected to join the Spurs Silver Dancers for the team’s 24th season as the official on-court dance team for the San Antonio Spurs.
Indey Whigham, a 2013 graduate of Harker Heights High School and a student at Texas State University, underwent a grueling audition process this summer to become one of the newest members of the Spurs Silver Dancers.
“It was very, very stressful,” Whigham said. “We started the first day with 133 girls. By the end of the second day, there were only 30 girls left.”
On July 26, 30 women auditioned at the Arneson River Theater in San Antonio in front of judges, retired Spurs basketball player George “The Iceman” Gervin, former Silver Dancer Alanna Sarabia and radio personality Geoff Sheen.
“We did our dance, and then performed a solo; (the judges) deliberated for 15 minutes and then they finally called out the girls who made the team. Only 16 were chosen,” Whigham said.
Whigham has danced all her life, but this latest accomplishment is the peak of her young career.
“I started dancing when I was 3. I’ve always been involved in dance,” Whigham said. “I did studio dance. In middle school, I was part of the Union Grove Golden Bells. Then at Harker Heights (High School), I was part of the Crimson Belles.”
Whigham will be back at Texas State University in the fall as a junior and said she has a busy year ahead.
“So far (my coach) told us we will be dancing up to 30 hours a week,” Whigham said.
“I think it’ll be stressful once basketball season starts, but I think it’s going to be really exciting. I’m going to be very busy, but I think I’ll like it and it’ll be worth it.”
Her mother, Melissa Adams, said her daughter was born ready to dance.
”She’s always been a little dancer — that’s why I put her in dance. She just loves dance,” Adams said.
The oldest of four children, Whigham said her three younger brothers have mixed feelings about her dancing career.
“I think they’re happy for me, but they just don’t care for dance,” Whigham said.
Her dad, Josh Adams, said this latest development in Whigham’s career will take some getting used to.
“It’s pretty exciting, I’m proud of her … to know that there’s going to be millions of people watching her dance at halftime, it’s pretty cool,” Adams said.
Whigham hopes her story will inspire young girls in the area to shoot for the stars.
“Keep going. I know when I was younger, I didn’t always want to go to practice. But it’s worth it … in the end you really do love it and appreciate it,” Whigham said. “Just keep on practicing.”
On July 26th, the top 30 Spurs Silver Dancers finalists will audition in front of a live audience. Don’t miss your chance to meet the finalists, watch them perform, and watch the announcement of the 2015-16 Silver Dancers!
Where: Arneson River Theater on the Riverwalk
When: Sunday, July 26th, 7:00-9:00pm. Doors open at 6:30pm.
Admission: $5 donation to local flood relief fund through Silver & Black Give Back.
But in the meantime you can cast your vote for who you think should make the squad.
The Spurs Silver Dancers will host five prep classes, beginning Sunday, May 31 and leading up to the July 18 Silver Dancer Auditions. Sessions are available in San Antonio and San Marcos.
The classes will be taught by Silver Dancers Choreographer Katie Gibbons, and will cover a wide range of styles including jazz, jazz funk, hip hop, heel and pom. Each of the five sessions lasts two-and-a-half hours and will feature two short, unique routines to help prepare dancers for team auditions.
Attendees are encouraged to dress in comfortable clothing, and to bring several changes of shoes to accommodate different routine styles. There is no limit to the number of prep classes a dancer can attend, and the classes are not required for Silver Dancer Auditions. Prep classes and auditions are open to those 18 years of age and older as of August 1, 2015. Pre-registration is not necessary for prep classes, but is encouraged for Silver Dancer Auditions. For more information on the 2015 Silver Dancer audition prep classes, go to Spurs.com/SilverDancers.
George Gervin Youth Center
6944 S. Sunbelt Dr.
San Antonio, TX 78218
Sunday, May 31 from 2 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday, June 17 from 6:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Thursday, July 9 from 6:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Wednesday, July 15 from 6:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Registration fee: $25
San Marcos Student Recreation Center
1001 Academy St.
San Marcos, TX 78666
Saturday, June 13 from 2 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Registration fee: $25
The Spurs Silver Dancers are entering their 24th season of entertaining fans as the official on-court dance team for the San Antonio Spurs. In addition to their game night performances, they are active members of the community, making appearances and attending events throughout the year, as well as leading Jr. Silver Dancer clinics throughout South Texas.
SAN ANTONIO — The Spurs have a large following in Laredo as Spurs Nation stands strong and tall when they hit the floor every season.
Laredoan Clarissa Pena is vying to become part of the San Antonio Silver Dancers that entertain the crowds at all the Spurs home games with their choreographed dance moves.
Pena, a 2008 graduate of Nixon, is putting her best foot forward as she is one of six finalists for the last three spots with the Silver Dancers.
She is vying for the dance gig, but she needs Laredo’s help to make the team as online voting will determine who earns the last three spots.
The online voting starts today and finishes on Thursday as people can log on to Spurs.com and click on Clarissa Pena to vote for her.
Pena battled 93 other dancers in the two-day audition and 16 have already been named to the team.
“I feel a whole mixture of emotions,” shes said.
“Imagine being nervous, excited, happy, and anxious all in one moment, every hour of the day. I had so much energy that I didn’t want to sleep.
Most of all, I feel really blessed and honored to have had the opportunity to make it this far.
“No matter what happens, I know that God has a plan, and I will be happy with whatever he deems is best.
It’s not over, so I’m keeping my faith strong and am going to need Laredo’s help to make this dream a reality.
I’m also extremely happy to be able to go out there and represent Laredo.
I’ve lived in San Antonio for the last five years, so it does have a big piece of my heart, but Laredo will always be right there next to it.
Laredo made me who I am today, and I will never forget that.”
Pena recently graduated with Cum Laude honors from St. Mary’s University with a double major in psychology and marketing and currently works for Teach for America in San Antonio.
She is also a dance instructor for the St. Mary’s dance team.
Pena has an extensive dancing background that started at Diana Rendon’s Dance Academy for 16 years before she moved on to the Nixon cheerleading team and ended with the St. Mary’s dance team for the past four years.
This is not the first time that Pena has flirted with the Silver Dancers.
For the past five years, she toyed with the notion of auditioning before trying out last year.
Pena’s hopes of becoming part of the Silver Dancers stopped in the auditions but that only fueled her fire as she vowed to come back stronger this year.
“I’ve known about tryouts for the last five years but finally got the courage to tryout last year,” Pena said.
“Although my journey in the audition process last summer was short lived, I knew I couldn’t give up.
I spent the rest of the year coaching a dance team as well as practicing my technique whenever I had free time. I wanted to be ready and come back stronger for this year’s tryout process.”
Pena went to work since the day she was cut from the auditions and in a year went from not making the team to to being in the running for the last three spots.
“I feel like I’ve really been preparing all year long,” she said.
“Whenever I had some free time, I would work on different technique elements and focused on building on my strengths and improving my weaknesses.
Then in late March, I auditioned for the San Antonio Silver Stars Star Squad and made the team.
“I was so excited to be dancing for a crowd again.
This was the best preparation because the choreographer was always helping push the dancers, myself included, to be the best dancers we could be.
I also met some great friends, one of which who just made it to the Silver Dancers team, who really helped me improve on my dancing ability.”
SAN ANTONIO — Six contestants remain with only three spots left to fill as the Silver Dancers hammer out their squad for the upcoming 2013-14 Spurs season.
Sixteen dancers were already selected last week. The three additional Silver Dancers will be determined by online votes. Spurs fans can visit the team’s website to watch video interviews and dance performances from all six candidates before voting for their favorite. Voting ends Thursday.
Meet the ladies below!
Brianna, is a 19-year-old UTSA student who loves working with kids. She said she loves dancing,and could bring personality and dedication, plus she loves volunteering.
Brittany, is a Houston native who loves San Antonio. She said she loves to entertain and perform and enjoys the camaraderie of the city.
Clarissa said she wants to be a role model for people to show them that hard work and dedication can help people achieve their dreams.
Halle is a 21-years-old who is close to her family and loves basketball. She said she can bring her positive attitude to the squad.
Mariyah, is a 21-year-old UTSA student majoring in psychology and minoring in biology. She said she’s wanted to be a Silver Dancer since she was 11 and can bring energy, excitement and positive energy to the squad.
Michelle, comes from a military family and has lived extensively oversees. She said she wants be to a Silver dancer because of her passion for dance and to interact with people but also be a part community service of the squad.
If you happen to be looking for a career with the Spurs, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that a position is about to open up. The bad news is you’ve got some pretty petite shoes to fill – size 7, to be exact.
Raquel Garcia, 39, has been the Spurs Silver Dancers choreographer for more than a decade, but on Sept. 15, her contract will expire, and, with a set of 3-year-old twins and a 6-year-old son, she has decided to resign from the team, as well as from her position as choreographer for the WNBA Silver Stars SBC Star Squad dance team and The Rampage Ice Girls dance team.
“We’re in the process of looking for someone else,” said Spurs Director of Game Operations & Special Events Chris Garcia. (Full disclosure: Chris Garcia and Raquel Garcia are married.) “She reflected over this past year, and she figured it was probably time to move on and focus her family.”
The 2013 season was a big one for the Spurs, and thus a big one for the Silver Dancers.
“This past year was amazing; even though we weren’t champions at the end, it was just an awesome ride,” Raquel said.
But all those extra games at the end of the season started to add up for the new mom. She finally made the bittersweet choice to leave.
“The deciding factor for me was when I looked back at this past year – if I counted the nights when I was at rehearsal and the nights that I was working games, whether that be Spurs, The Rampage or our WNBA Silver Stars, which we’re currently in, I was away from my children 150 nights. So someone else put my own children to bed. And it should be their mommy,” Raquel Garcia said. “There’s no price tag I can put on that.”
The audition process to select next season’s Silver Dancers started Aug. 10 and was one of her last orders of business.
More than a hundred girls in hot shorts and fitted tank tops twirled, kicked, coupe-turned, and whipped their hair to Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart” for the first round; after cuts were made, the remaining 60 or so learned a new routine to Maroon 5’s “Love Somebody.”
Throughout the instruction period, Raquel Garcia, energetic and petite, stood on a small stage and danced through the whole routine with the girls over and over, keeping in step while giving precise instructions through a microphone.
Just before she stepped out of a curtain-enclosed area to teach the second routine, she fished through her Louis Vuitton handbag for a stick of deodorant.
“Don’t want to stink-a-roonie!” she chirped. This neatly summarizes her personality – disarmingly sweet with an emphasis on presentation. She’s not unlike the quintessential Disney princess.
Raquel Garcia worked her way up from her high school pep squad to the to the cheer team and on to the Kilgore Rangerettes dance team in college. After graduation, she set her sights on a professional dance career and made the Silver Dancers team in 1994. With five seasons with the Silver Dancers under her belt, she took a job with an ad agency, but her passion for dance endured. In 2003, she became the choreographer for the Silver Stars dance team, followed by her position as the Silver Dancers choreographer.
Now, her plans are simple: PTA, church and working from home with a uniform-design agency outfitting pro and collegiate teams in Texas. But most importantly, “I’m gonna be a stay-home mommy,” she said.
So what does Raquel Garcia’s husband, the Spurs director of game operations, think about the end of going to work with his wife?
“It’s fantastic,” Chris Garcia said. “It’ll be nice to just be able to hold hands and walk around at the games and be married.”
This is one of those bad news/good news posts. The bad news is Raquel Garcia, who has been Chief Chick in Charge of the Silver Dancers for a decade or more is moving on to other things. By all reports, she is a super nice lady, and I know the veterans will miss her terribly. On the other hand, that means there’s a job opportunity out there.
POSITION: Choreographer (Independent Contractor)
The choreographer shall perform services as primary choreographer for the Spurs Silver Dancers including events such as auditions, practices, preseason home games, regular season home games and playoff home games as outlined by the Company.
REPORTS TO: Game Operations & Special Events Manager
KEY RESPONSIBILITY AREAS
Choreographer shall assist in the audition and selection of performers along with the Game Operations & Special Events Manager.
Choreographer shall also perform services, as outlined in the sole discretion of the Company, at any on-site or off-site appearances.
Choreographer shall be present at designated Company preseason, regular season and playoff games at the times and locations outlined by the designated Company staff member.
During preseason, regular season and playoff season games where Choreographer is present, Choreographer will solely be responsible for providing feedback and guidance on the routines organized and executed.
Click here to check out the Spurs’ photo gallery from this year’s open call. One thing you will notice straight away is the new dress code.
I thought at first this was a mix up and these were photos from prep class. Nope. So is this a new conservative move for the team? I have no idea. But it is so interesting that the tank top has become The Great Equalizer. Not only is the tank top more conservative by virtue of the fact that it covers the midsection, but it means almost no cleavage, and way less razzle-dazzle. There goes the advantage of that custom made, uber-sparkly two piece.
This is one of the few who still managed a cute, coordinated ensemble.
Most of the other girls look like the tank top was an afterthought.