Final auditions for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders took place yesterday. And if you don’t want to know any more about what happens before the CMT reality show airs in a couple of months STOP READING NOW NOW NOW.
Look away, scroll down, close the tab, do whatever you have to do to preserve the mystery for yourself.
For those of you still with me, this is how it broke down. There were 34 Cheerleaders on last year’s team. Ten retired and one left the team before the end of her contract. The remaining 23 veterans competed in finals this year, joining 48 rookie candidates, for a total of 71 ladies in contention for a spot in training camp.
In the morning, the dancers did solo talent presentations for the judges. In the afternoon, they performed the choreographed dance and kickline they learned for semifinals. Finals are always grueling for the DCC, and at the end of a looooooooong day, 47 women were invited to training camp. That includes 21 veterans (unfortunately two were not invited back) and 26 aspiring rookies.
Veteran and rookie candidate photos are below. For the rookies, I included information on their experience on other pro or semi-pro teams and how many times they’ve been to the DCC rodeo. As always, additions and edits are welcome.
Preliminary auditions for the 2016-17 Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders took place last weekend. The field has been narrowed down to 48 dancers who will join 23 members of last year’s team to complete for spots on this season’s team. Among their ranks are finalists and training camp candidates from previous years, alumni of numerous other NFL, NBA, NHL, and other pro and semi-pro teams, and one veteran who was a DCC back in 2011 and is determined to make a comeback.
As in past years, the Cowboys have opened it up for fans to vote for their favorite aspiring rookies. They haven’t stated it explicitly (probably because they aren’t advertising the vote yet) but I assume the dancer who gets the most votes will automatically win a spot in 2016 DCC training camp. Click here to watch each dancer perform the audition choreography and cast your vote for your top ten. (Or click here for the mobile version.) You can also use this link to watch the videos (it’s an easier way to view one right after another.)
By Jay Betsill
Special to DFW.com
May 16, 2016
Mini Gallery/Highlights (32 photos)
Pics: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Auditions – Day 1 (It says 456 Photos, but it’s only about 250 with many duplicates)
Pics: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Auditions – Day 2 (228 Photos)
ARLINGTON — With the cameras rolling for the 11th season of CMT’s Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team, the legendary Phil Whitfield welcomed over 500 ladies who were following their dream to be a member of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders at the preliminary auditions at AT&T Stadium.
Rather than the traditional lineup in the $1.2 billion stadium’s plaza, the rain forced the DCC to improvise and move all of the hopefuls inside the stadium for check-in.
Once inside, the ladies recovered from being out in the rain and prepped to look their best in the ‘Fluff & Puff’ area before heading down to the field for the welcome address from DCC Director Kelli Finglass.
While attempting to ease the anxiety and nerves of the ladies in attendance, Finglass went over the process for the first day and down the line through semi-finals, finals and training camp on the path to naming this year’s Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
“Today’s preliminary round is about you getting noticed and being memorable,” Finglass told the attentive group of ladies who were on the edge of their seats overlooking the touchdown deck. “Today is not a day of technical dancing or where we will teach you a combination and you have to execute it immediately. You want 16 judges to think ‘wow, she’s fun to watch.'”
Back upstairs on the stadium’s main concourse level, the 16 judges included DCC choreographer Judy Trammell, Dallas Cowboys Executive Vice President Charlotte Jones Anderson, the Official Trainer of the DCC Jay Johnson, DallasCowboys.com’s Mickey Spagnola, Meredith Land from NBC 5 and Candice Romo, wife of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.
The preliminary round offers each of the ladies 90 seconds of freestyle to impress the judges and stand out among the crowd all while knowing that there will be only 10 advancing to semi-finals and eventually 45 ladies invited to DCC training camp.
“To get ready for this process, I reached out to Erica, who is currently a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader and who I know from our time at LSU,” said Cersten, a DCC hopeful who is from Euless. “She was very helpful in giving me guidelines of what I needed to work on and what I needed to expect.
“Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders has always been my ultimate goal since I was a kid,” she continued. “I started dancing at age 6, did the junior DCC and fell in love with the feeling of being able to perform for an entire stadium. That is something I have been chasing ever since. It has always been a dream and today as I drove to stadium and saw it in the distance, it became a reality.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum was Jennifer Mosley. She has actually worn the iconic DCC uniform for two seasons, in 1996 and 97, when the Cowboys played at Texas Stadium.
“I loved everything about being a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader,” she said. “I loved the rehearsals, I loved the roar of the crowd and the dedication that went into the whole process. Once I got my bearings on how it all worked, every day was exciting.
“My time as a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, especially my first year was so great that I still dream about it,” she continued. “That’s what brought me back today, it’s exactly 20 years from when I auditioned for the first time and made the team.”
And what is the biggest difference between auditioning in the 90s and today?
“The process is very similar. Back then, we were in the Stadium Club at Texas Stadium overlooking the field, where now this stadium is very different and, of course, the TV show cameras were not around then,” she said. “I’d say the biggest difference being here at AT&T Stadium is there is more glitz and glamor now. There was a lot then, but there is a ton now. Being 39, I just wanted to be a part of it all again, if only for a day or a weekend and I am proud of myself for doing it.”
When Saturday came to a close, the numbers were unveiled to let those know who would be advancing to semi-finals the next morning. While 104 ladies were celebrating being a step closer to their, others fought back tears and faced the sudden reality that either this was not their time or that their dreams were coming to an end.
For further information, visit dallascowboyscheerleaders.com
By Jon Wilcox
May 12, 2016
A lifetime of dreaming was fulfilled when the Houston Texans told Victoria native Lauren Chapman she had made the cheerleading squad.
“You want it so bad because you’ve worked for months,” said Chapman, 24. “It’s right there. You’re just praying they call your name.”
Her prayers were answered April 25 at a Houston practice field during a ceremony when the names of those who made the final cut were announced.
From a group of more than 850 initial applicants, only 35 were called to step forward and accept their pair of Houston Texans pompoms along with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as an NFL cheerleader.
Although Chapman’s mother, Tami Hurley, watched the livestreamed ceremony with anxiety at her home computer in Victoria, she said she wasn’t completely surprised when her daughter made the cut.
After all, Chapman has performed for audiences since the age of 3, Hurley said.
“I was always dancing,” the daughter said.
Coincidentally, some of her first routines were set to the theme song from the television show “Cheers,” which her family watched during supper.
“If we were in the middle of the meal or about to eat, she would hear the theme music, and she would run over to the front of the TV,” the mother said.
After dancing steps written in her own imagination, the 3-year-old Chapman would end her routines by holding a pose to delighted applause from her family, Hurley said.
“And then the world could go on back to what it was doing,” she said.
After more than two decades of dancing, Chapman has moved on to larger audiences. But, still, the feeling is the same – only more profound, the cheerleader said.
Although she has yet to take the field at NRG Stadium, Chapman has significant experience at the college level, dancing in front of thousands of ecstatic football fans.
The Victoria native has performed for St. Joseph High School, Kilgore College and Baylor University. She even danced once at the Cotton Bowl.
Remembering that experience in Dallas, Chapman said she was transformed by the energy in the packed bowl stadium.
“It’s insane,” she said. “It takes over your whole body.”
But new responsibilities come with the opportunities – keeping her body in pristine condition, for one.
Hurley said her daughter works out at least once and often twice each day to meet the demands of the rigorous routines she performs.
“She’s got abs of steel,” Hurley said.
Chapman’s physical prowess was not easily earned, Hurley said.
The dance routines the cheerleader rehearses are wholly on a different level from those tried by amateurs, her mother said.
“It’s not just like a little Zumba,” Hurley said. “She’s working every muscle. She’s leaping.”
Hurley said her daughter can easily clear 5 feet vertically.
“Her legs will be straight out, pointed,” she said. “It’s beautiful.”
And as a Houston Texans cheerleader, Chapman is more than a top-notch athlete and pretty face. As per the terms of her agreement with the football team, she is required to hold a job outside of her cheering career.
Having received a degree in history and education from the University of Texas at Arlington, she is now seeking a career as a history teacher. The professional cheerleader already has gained experience working as a substitute teacher in Arlington.
“It’s been pretty exhausting,” she said.
Despite the strain, Chapman said she considers the Texans’ job requirement a privilege rather than a curse.
“A lot of fans like to interact,” she said. “Every day, there’s someone reaching out to me.”
For Chapman, teaching is just one more chance to connect with fans and the Houston community.
“You’re not just a fantasy on the field,” she said. “That’s what really drew me to the Houston Texans, that connection with the fans.”
By Kathy Walsh
May 11, 2016
DENVER (CBS4) – This football season there will be a nurse on the sidelines at Denver Broncos home games. She won’t be practicing her profession, but rather, her passion.
It took three attempts for the young woman to realize her dream. Now, she’ll be dancing for joy with the Broncos cheerleaders.
“It takes it to a kind of level in compassion and empathy and skill that I connect with,” Windey told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.
Gabby Windey (credit: Denver Broncos)
Gabby Windey (credit: Denver Broncos)
Windey has worked in ICU for three years. It can be stressful, but she has her own way of coping.
“With dance. It’s huge. That really helps get my mind off of everything,” Windey said.
Nursing is her profession, but dancing is Windey’s passion.
“When I’m dancing, nothing else matters,” she said.
She started dancing at age 12 and hasn’t stopped. Windey danced through high school and college. Last year, she was on the dance squad for the Denver Outlaws lacrosse team.
This year, she’s had a dream come true. On her third try, she made the Denver Broncos cheerleaders.
“They hold their girls to a really high standard and they also give back in the community, which is huge,” Windey said.
A patient’s bedside and a pro football sideline are very different worlds. But for Windey, they work.
She said she’ll be nervous when she performs at her first Broncos game as a cheerleader. At the hospital, Windey leans on her coworkers for support. She says she’ll do the same at Broncos games with two dozen dancers by her side.
Carly Saber, Staff Writer
Sonoma State Star
May 9, 2016
Many students play sports throughout their childhood and into high school, but a select few continue on to play their sport in college. From there, it’s only the best of the best that continue on professionally. It takes a certain kind of dedication and talent to enter the professional realm.
Erin Hardy, senior psychology major and dance minor, been given the opportunity to be a professional dancer. She will be dancing for the San Francisco 49ers Gold Rush cheer team for the 2016-2017 football season.
Hardy has been dancing her entire life. She started dance in kindergarten when it was an option to be in a ballet dance class instead of going to recess.
“I was pretty self motivated right from the beginning, but I also only wanted to take ballet and not branch out into any other style,” Hardy said.
Ballet became her passion and she continued to dance all throughout her childhood. Her mom encouraged her to try out for her high school dance team and she ended up being on the team for all four years. Hardy’s time in dance was not all glamour and fun.
“Before high school, I was dancing with a ballet company where I was bullied pretty bad. I was so conflicted because I hated the environment I was in but I loved ballet and performing,” said Hardy. “I did end up switching ballet schools, but I feel like if I hadn’t found my new school when I did I might have hit my breaking point and quit dance all together.”
She didn’t let the bullies win and she went on to continue dance throughout high school.
“My inspiration to continue has always come from trying to be the best possible role model I can be. Throughout the years, I wanted to set a good example for the younger girls on my team.” Hardy said. “Then, when people who had just seen me dance in shows would approach me and talk about how I inspired them to pursue dance and improve, I began to realize the impact I was having on others.”
Hardy knew she wanted to dance in college and joined the Sonoma State University Sapphires dance team her freshman year.
“Erin is a beautiful dancer, she is very passionate about dance and really cares about the overall success of the team. She is extremely friendly and just an overall genuine person,” said Erica Pecho, captain of the Sapphires.
Hardy was able to broaden her dance styles and gain confidence on the stage.
“Being on the Sapphires and being surrounded by dancers so talented and versatile has definitely helped me improve my own dance and performance skills,” Hardy said. “One style I really struggled with coming into college was hip hop, and three years ago I would have never thought I would be able to call myself a hip hop national champion.” The Sapphires won the Grand Hip-Hop Championship title for division II and III at their national competition.
Hardy decided she wanted to audition for the Goldrush team two years ago and she made it all the way to the final round. She was offered a position for a pre-game rally event at Great America, but not a spot on the team. “It was great experience and gave me a better idea of what I would be doing if I made the Goldrush,” Hardy said.
When the time came to audition this year, she was ready.
“Pro dance is always something I had in the back of my mind and I felt like the 49ers had the platform I was looking for,” Hardy said.
“I was really excited for Erin when I found out that she made the 49er cheerleaders. This was something she had wanted for a really long time, so I’m happy that she made the team. It’s great that all her work has paid off,” Teammate Lena Stephens said. “Not only that, it’s great that someone is representing Sonoma State and the Sapphires through this wonderful opportunity.”
Hardy is extremely grateful for the opportunity to dance professionally. “It is something I worked very hard to achieve. I hope by being on this team I can inspire young girls who have been bullied or who have low self-esteem. I want to prove to them that it is possible to accomplish a dream as long as you persevere and do not allow your insecurities to stand in your way,” Hardy said.
Woohoo! Auditions are over and the Kansas City Chiefs Cheerleaders have been selected. This year’s team of 33 includes 21 veterans. Can’t wait to see you on the field in a few months, ladies. Click here to see who made the team.
2016 KCCC Audition Coverage:
Video: Chiefs Cheerleader Auditions – Day 1
Video: Chiefs Cheerleader Auditions – Day 2
Video: Chiefs Cheerleader Auditions – Day 3
Photo Gallery: 2016 Chiefs Cheer Auditions Behind the Scenes
Photo Gallery: 2016 Cheerleader Candidates
Photo Gallery: 2016 Cheerleader Finalists
Photo Gallery: 2016 Chiefs Cheer Audition Finals
Auditions are over and the members of the 2016-17 Cincinatti Bengals Cheerleaders have been announced. This year 30 ladies were chosen for the team, including 10 newbies and 20 veterans (three returning to the team after a hiatus). Click here to see who made the team!