Ultimate Cheerleaders

Mavs Dancers Big and Small Strut their Stuff on NBA’s Grandest Stage

From the Dallas Morning News

In the fist-pumping, nail-biting world of the NBA Finals, there’s still room for sex appeal and beer belly buffoonery.

When the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat play Game 3 of the championship series today at American Airlines Center, the players will share center stage with the petite Mavs Dancers and their flabby male counterparts, the ManiAACs.

Together, the dance teams are a study in opposites. There are the Mavericks Dancers, the beautiful, perfectly tanned queens of the hard court. Then there’s the ManiAACs. What can you say about the ManiAACs? They’re big. You’ve heard of the Chippendales dancers. The ManiAACs are the Clydesdales.

“The crowd always loves them more than us. I don’t know why,” said Paige Jones, 22, a three-year veteran of the Mavs Dancers.

It’s probably because to many people, a fat man isn’t supposed to dance in a half T-shirt that reveals his hairy gut.

“We keep them wanting more,” said Samuel Procell, a 57-year-old nightclub owner whose stage name is Rock Star. “You don’t see heavyset guys doing a choreographed dance routine.”

The two troupes perform during timeouts during the Mavericks’ games and never perform the same dance twice in the same game. Each squad holds yearly tryouts, but only a few dancers are selected to perform throughout the year. Despite their opposites in appearance, they share common bonds: a passion to entertain and the enjoyment of being full-time Mavs fans.

The 20-member Mavs Dancers have as many dance moves as the basketball team has plays. They juggle practice, games, school and work. Oh, and they’re dancing in the NBA Finals, the pinnacle event in their line of work.

“What I always tell the girls is they should be very humble,” said Mallory Mills, the squad’s director and a former Mavs Dancer. “You can’t be cocky and big-headed because you’re dancing in the NBA Finals.”

For the ManiAACs, there’s more to the group than just jiggling a 300-pound frame at center court. The 18 members range in age from 23 to 57 and are fathers, bankers and teachers. In addition to game performances, they average one rehearsal a week and 100 public appearances.

They’ve performed on the America’s Got Talent television show and danced in front of 108,000 at the NBA All-Star Game at Cowboys Stadium. But they’ve also appeared at bar mitzvahs and bachelorette parties.

“They want to see us bust those bellies out,” team captain “Big Rob” Maiden said. “We’re going to take taco breaks, cheeseburger breaks. We’re not trying to promote being unhealthy; we just want you to smile.”

He said the ManiAACs want to keep the crowd energized for the players during the Finals.

“It’s the Super Bowl of the NBA, and we want to put on an NBA Finals performance,” said Maiden, an accountant for the Dallas Cowboys.

As for the Mavs Dancers, “they’re on cloud nine right now,” Mills said.

“You have to realize it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” she said. “You have to cherish the moment.”

[Dallas Mavericks Dancers]

About the Author

James, East Coast Correspondent