By Jimmy Tomlin
The High Point Enterprise
Tiffany Jackson, who recently moved from High Point to Miami, readily admits she loves the heat of southern Florida.
Actually, she loves the Heat – as in the Miami Heat, the NBA team that boasts the league’s hottest dance team, of which Jackson is now a member.
“It’s pretty exciting,” the 25-year-old High Point native says during a telephone interview. “We’ve been voted the number-one dance team in the NBA four years in a row.”
Jackson, a 2002 graduate of High Point Central High School, made the squad after auditioning against 250 other young women who were competing for the dance team’s 25 available slots.
“It was a little overwhelming at first,” Jackson says of the highly competitive auditions. “But once the music started and I learned the choreography, it just came natural to me.”
Once she qualified for the final round of auditions, Jackson and the other finalists spent nearly a week at what’s known as “boot camp,” where she learned new choreography in preparation for a final performance before the judges. Then the judges made their picks.
“Honestly, I didn’t even hear my name or number called,” Jackson recalls, “but my friend was like, ‘That’s you! That’s you!’ I couldn’t believe it.”
As a member of the Miami Heat Dancers, Jackson performs at most of the team’s home basketball games, makes public appearances at charity functions and other events, and makes promotional appearances for the team when called upon to do so.
At games, dance team members perform an opening routine during the player and dance team introductions, and perform between quarters and during timeouts. They also toss T-shirts to the crowd during giveaways, pose for photographs with fans and sign autographs.
Jackson is no stranger to dance performances, but she still gets goosebumps thinking about her first performance at a Miami Heat game.
“The lights went down for us to perform our opening number, and there wasn’t an empty seat in the whole arena,” she says. “It was really exciting.”
Jackson, who also works as a waitress in Miami, says there’s no down side to being a Miami Heat dancer.
“The practices are long,” she says, “but you’re always learning.”
Jackson entered the dance world as a 21⁄2-year-old, when she began studying tap and ballet at Dancers Headquarters. She eventually moved to High Point Dance Academy, where she studied jazz, lyrical and modern dance.
“By the age of 6, I was competing in national dance competitions up and down the East Coast,” she says. “And at age 10, I got a lifetime scholarship to Broadway Dance Center in New York.”
She was an All-American cheerleader in high school, she says, and taught dance at the Pointe Studio in Greensboro and at High Point Dance Academy.
With the Miami Heat Dancers, Jackson gets to combine her traditional dance background with hip-hop.
“All of the girls have technical skills – they have ballet and lyrical – but they do hip-hop, too, which is really hard to find in a dance team,” she says.
Whatever they’re doing, it seems to be working. For four straight years, the squad has been voted the NBA’s most popular dance team in an online competition.
The team also has a few famous alumna, including ABC’s original “Bachelorette,” Trista Rehn;
Pussycat Dolls vocalist Jessica Sutta; and “Deal or No Deal” suitcase model Brooke Long.
Jackson hopes to be a member of the squad for several years to come.
“I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon,” she says. “This is something I really enjoy doing.”