Clippers Spirit Director Audrea Harris (center) with veterans (from left) Tatum, Brittany, Karissa, and Candace.
Auditions for the Los Angeles Clippers Spirit dance team are scheduled for July 19! [Audition details]. Last weekend, the team offered two pre-audition workshops for ladies aspiring to join the Clippers Spirit. The sessions took place at Boogiezone Utopia, which is also where the team rehearses during the season.
For the hopeful candidates, it was an opportunity to meet a few members of the team, gain exposure to their performance style, and learn some of their choreography. They were also able to ask questions about the audition process itself, learn how to prepare themselves for tryouts, and how to maximize their chances to make the team.
It’s fun to watch prep class and see who turns up. These workshops aren’t only for women trying to make a pro team for the first time. This year’s group included veterans from a few other pro teams, as well as a couple alumni of other Clippers entertainment teams. (The dancers aren’t the only group that performs at the games. The Clippers also have the Fan Patrol, Junior Jam, Crowd Crew, Dunk Team, Drumline and one or two others I can’t recall off the top of my head. There’s a lot going on at these games!)
I think experienced dancers who attend a team’s pre-audition workshop are being really smart about it. I used to think these classes were just for total rookies with no experience whatsoever. But the women with pro experience on their resumes know you can’t underestimate the value of meeting the team’s director ahead of time, so she knows your face and has an idea of what you can do. When you think about the fact that you will be competing against 200-300 women at the audition, a little face time beforehand can only help your cause. Even if you’ve been on twelve other teams. Every little bit helps.
It’s also interesting to see who leaves. A couple of women ducked out of the first session before it really got going. It just reminds me that this whole process – workshops, dance audition, interview, etc, is a two-way street. The dancers have to impress the judges to get chosen. But this exercise is also for the dancers to determine if this is something they really want to do and are able to do. I’m not surprised when one or two women realize at the beginning of the session that they don’t have the dance ability for this kind of thing. The dance team makes it look so easy and fun. When you’re sitting in the stands, it’s easy to imagine yourself down there on the court. But then you get to the workshop and reality sets in.
But I think for those who make it through the class and have a good time doing it, the experience just makes them want it even more. I’m always interested to see which members of the class actually show up at the audition. There are a few I definitely hope to see there!
Class began with Karissa demonstrating the first move. Start with your left foot in passé and then raise it up…and up…and up…
Juuuuust kidding. You should’ve seen their faces. That little trick really freaked everyone out in the morning session. They did it again in the afternoon session and when the class realized it was just a joke, the relief was palpable.
After scaring the hell out of everyone, they jumped right into the choreography. The first piece they learned was a portion of last season’s dance to “Let’s Get Loud.”
After learning the dance, the ladies watched each other perform in small groups (With the veterans marking it alongside).
Then Audrea spoke a little bit about the difference between dancing and really performing and selling it. She put her veterans on the spot and had them perform for the group to illustrate her point.
Afterward, the dancers performed in small groups again, and this time they were encouraged to really put some “wow” into it. This time the veterans got to watch, and the second time around, made a real difference!
Then the group moved on to hip hop. Everyone put on their baggies, changed their shoes, and learned part of the combination for “Bubble Butt.” (Gotta love that. Booty so smooth, can’t believe it’s not butta!) They followed the same format, first learning the routine…
…and performing it in small groups…
…then watching the veterans do it…
…and then performing it again. The ladies in the afternoon session in particular were really feeling the hip hop. It was obvious they were having a lot of fun. This year’s prep class was full of talent. I don’t think it was entirely my imagination, but the women this year seemed to pick up choreography incredibly fast.
After all the dancing was over, everyone gathered around for Q&A.
Questions ranged from the rehearsal schedule (Sunday afternoons and Monday evenings), to how many veterans are retiring this year (7 or 8 out of 17), to what to expect during the interview (questions to get to know you and how you expect to fit the busy schedule into your life), to what to wear for auditions (trunks are better than boy shorts unless your legs are 9 feet long, swimsuit tops are only a good idea if you are smaller on top, wear pantyhose, not shiny dance tights), to how to do your makeup (eyelashes and red lipstick. LipSTICK. Not gloss.) Audrea also gave her annual “save your money” speech. She is a firm believer in spending wisely when it comes to audition prep. If you have the money to spend, go hog wild. But if you don’t – and most people don’t – put your money where it matters most. Dance classes. A great color and cut. More dance classes. You don’t need a pricey outfit or expensive makeup. Your shine comes from your talent and ability.
When all was said and done, the dancers walked away with a fun experience and a lot to think about. One of the functions of prep class is to debunk the myth that any of this is “easy” and impress upon everyone that this is fun, but it is still a J.O.B. And a major time commitment. So now these women have a few weeks to think about whether they have the ambition, time, and talent to devote to the team.
I can’t wait to see see who decides to really go for it at auditions next month!