Dance Life: Danielle, Orlando Magic Dancer

By Seth Berkman
(Hoop Magazine Jan-Feb Issue)

Like the players, do the dancers have a training camp?
dnaillelargeWe start at the beginning of September. It’s always fun to start off the year, especially with the new girls. You don’t really know everybody yet and it’s an exciting time.

How many years have you been dancing with the Magic?
This is my fifth season with the Magic.

Do you embrace taking on a leadership role with the squad?
I am a Leo so I think leadership has always been a personality trait. [laughs] I’ve done this for so long that it’s sort of natural. I love when the girls have questions, especially if it’s their first season and they don’t know how games work or rehearsals usually run, it’s nice to be able to help out.

And you’ve danced with other teams as well?

Yes, this is actually my third team in the NBA. I danced with the Cavs—I’m originally from Cleveland so I danced with the Cavs in college—the Atlanta Hawks and then I moved down here [to Orlando]. I just keep moving south apparently because it’s not warm enough for me anywhere. [laughs]

Was it hard for you last season during the playoffs when Orlando played Cleveland?

[laughs] It was probably harder for my father than anyone [else]. …I had a feeling if we got through Boston it would be us in the Finals. My dad loved to argue with that. It wasn’t hard for me, my poor mom was stuck in the middle of it. It was kind of fun, the camaraderie. My dad would send e-mails to all the girls like, “Big game tonight, try not to get too excited.” It was cute.

How different was it performing in the Finals as opposed to the regular season?
It was huge. I had never been to the playoffs until I danced with the Magic. My first season down here we went and every year we got better. I don’t have words to explain what it is like dancing in the Finals. It’s packed, it’s intense, people are crazy…it was awesome. It was the most surreal experience I’ve ever had. Dwight [Howard] and Jameer [Nelson] stayed out for the trophy ceremony and I loved that. I hope it shows them to be hungrier and want it more.

In the WNBA and with the NBA practice uniforms they’ve started selling sponsorships; do you think that will happen soon with dance teams?
I think they already do somewhat. I personally wouldn’t be opposed to it as long as it was a sponsorship that went along with the ideas of the organization and helped benefit the team. They do that with the soccer uniforms in Europe. If it’s a good way to make more money and help everyone out in the long run, why not?

Having danced for three teams, do you find a lot of differences between each team’s routines and how they’re run?

I think the organizations are all entirely different. The actual routines that we do—there’s a thing called Pro Dance that a lot of teams go to and it’s in the summer and you’ll pick up a lot of choreography from that. It’s funny, when I started dancing for the Magic, they were like we’re gonna bring this dance back from last year and I thought “This looks really familiar,” and I had done it in Atlanta. Most teams will have their own choreographer that they will bring in. I would say the biggest difference is the organization and how they choose to run each team.

Besides dancing, you also work for Clear Channel?
I am a key account coordinator, which basically means all the advertising business that comes out of South Florida, I am the coordinator that handles all that business. I don’t sell, but I coordinate and make sure that everything is in and all the loose ends are tied up.

Is that what you studied in college and want to continue to pursue after dancing?
I was a marketing major. I don’t really know what I want to do after I’m done dancing. I love my job. I kind of like seeing what happens. I like enjoying life as it comes and one day at a time. …I think I’ve danced for so long that without it I would almost be lost. I would have way too much free time and not know what to do with myself. A lot of girls will just hit a point when they feel it’s time to move on. I have not really had that. Everything has kind of fallen into place where I have been able to keep doing this.

How old were you when you began taking dance classes?

I was three or four. It would give my mom an hour to go to the grocery store and run errands that she needed to. I think that it’s so funny that that’s what she chose to be her “babysitter.” [laughs] We joke about how she says she should have put me in a foreign language class or something like that.

Do you have any favorite routines or songs?
Something that always gets me is introductions, when the lights go down and they’re getting ready to announce our starting lineup. Moments like that I look around and I cannot believe that this is my job.

Since you first started dancing in the NBA, have you seen the exposure of dance teams grow?

Absolutely. When I was in Cleveland around ’01-02, we weren’t really accessible. We danced during games and maybe did a few appearances here and there. Now we have so many community appearances, we greet the fans at the doors, we do postgame autographs and photos, dance clinics, all these things for the community and I think the teams are really using the dance teams to their full potential. It’s hard to get players out with their schedule, but it’s easier to get dancers out, so we’re kind of the front line for the organization. It’s really rewarding.

[Danielle at the Magic Website]

2 Replies to “Dance Life: Danielle, Orlando Magic Dancer”

  1. Thank you SO much for posting this…it’s such a HUGE honor to represent a team and organization I love SO much. Your support and recognition of Professional Dancers and Cheerleaders is amazing…you rock! 🙂

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