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The Shape of Things To Come: The 2019 Los Angeles Rams Cheerleaders Preliminary Auditions

This past Sunday, the Los Angeles Rams held their preliminary auditions for their 2019 cheerleading squad.  As you might expect after a Super Bowl appearance, interest in the Rams is at an all time high and the preliminary auditions attracted over 250 young women and men. 

Last season, the Los Angeles Rams became the first NFL team to select a male, two to be exact, for their dance team.  The Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts have had co-ed stunt teams for several years, but I believe the Rams were the first team to select a male for their dance team.   The New Orleans Saints also selected a male for their dance team last year, but I believe they held their auditions after the Rams.  

This year, there were several men in attendance at the preliminary auditions and there were two very special individuals with unique qualities that also tried out.  This was in addition to the two hundred talented young women who were among this year’s hopefuls. 

I think you could certainly say that these auditions were the most inclusive in history.  And judging by the caliber of young men and women trying out, these auditions were certainly most auspicious…perhaps an indication of the shape of things to come.

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More images after the break.

I have been covering the Rams Cheerleaders auditions since 2012 and my first impression at seeing all the candidates at prelims was that this will be a very talented pool of candidates to choose from.  It will be a very tough choice to make, to select the 32 best cheerleaders from this group of beautiful and talented dancers.  This is the big leagues and the caliber of competition was telling.

Registration was at 9:00 a.m. and when I arrived, there was already line of eager candidates waiting to register.  I have never photographed at the practice courts at the Galen Center and I was curious to see the set up, particularly the lighting in the audition space. 

It was relatively dark and the lighting was mixed, which meant that it would be a challenge to get a decent exposure.  I decided to use a flash and balance that with the ambient lighting.  That one hour before the audition began would be time well spent as I tried a variety of settings while photographing the hopefuls milling about.

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Introductions and Warm Up

At 10:00 a.m., Keely Fimbres, the Director of Cheerleading, welcomed the attendees and gave a brief description of the schedule of events.  There would be two rounds on this day.  Round One would be an across the floor routine and then a series of cuts.  The remaining candidates would then proceed onto Round Two and would be joined by the returning veterans.  They would be taught a minute long routine and then perform it in front of a panel of judges, who would then cull the remaining candidates to 60 or so finalists.

After Keely’s presentation, the assembled candidates underwent a warm up and stretching period.

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Round One Dance Instruction

John Peters, the distinguished choreographer for the Rams, instructed the candidates on the across the floor routine, which consisted of a series of spins, leaps, kicks and a jazz walk section.  Across the floor routines are used to judge dance technique and physical coordination and are often used to select the most able dancers from the rest of the group.

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Round One Judged Performance

After the instruction period, the dancers were lined up and performed the across the floor routine in groups of two.  Rams cheerleading staff members handed out wristbands to those dancers who were selected to continue the auditions process.  For those dancers who were not selected, their day was at an end and they were encouraged to try out next year.

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At the conclusion of judged portion, there was an hour and a half intermission before the second round.  The remaining candidates were assigned an audition number and their photograph was taken in front of two large backdrops.  During this time, the candidates were encouraged to eat lunch and hydrate.

The auditions process had begun in earnest.

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Round Two Dance Instruction and the Return of the Veterans

At 12:30 p.m., the returning veterans arrived as instructed.  John Peters returned to teach the second round audition routine to the assembled guests.  It would be a minute long jazz dance with several eight count segments.  Mr. Peters’ instruction proceeded at what I considered an accelerated pace, but that would be another measure to evaluate the dancers…that is how quickly they could learn a routine and retain it.  Brilliant.

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Round Two Judged Performance

After the instructional period, the candidates were once again lined up and brought before the panel of judges in pairs to perform the audition routine.

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After the last dancers performed, Keely Fimbres thanked the candidates for trying out and informed them that finalists would announced the following day on the Rams website.  Finalists would continue the audition process with interviews and additional dance rehearsals in preparation for the final round. 

It was a little after 5:00 p.m. and I was exhausted from over six hours of shooting Southern California’s most amazing dancers.  A sore shoulder and a strained calf muscle wouldn’t stop me from savoring the moment.  I had witness something special…the future of the Los Angeles Rams Cheerleaders and I couldn’t wait to see the images.

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I would like to thank Keely Fimbres, Chase Isaacs, and the staff of the Los Angeles Rams for allowing me to cover the 2019 Rams Cheerleaders preliminary auditions.  I had a wonderful time and look forward to seeing you again.

And a special thanks to Clint McComb, formerly Rampage the mascot, for the wonderful Chance the Gila Monster bobblehead…good luck in Las Vegas.

 

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