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Clarkston grad takes dance career to California

Phil Custodio
The Clarkston News
February 25, 2009

With seven years of NBA dance team experience and a huge photo spread in Muscle and Fitness magazine, Clarkston graduate Harmony Hunt’s years of hard work is paying off.

“I’m not looking to get famous, but I want to do these things when I’m young and able,” said Hunt, Clarkston High School class of 1996. “I’m blessed to have these opportunities.”

“I think it’s fabulous, a Clarkston girl goes out there to California and does good,” said Rick Hunt of Independence Township, her father.

Growing up in Independence Township with her parents, Rick and Theresa, brother, Rudy, and sister, Jessie, she started dancing when she was 3-4 years old at Roxana’s Dance Expressions studio.

“My mom started me out young,” Harmony said. “I loved it. I’ve stuck with it all my life. It’s a passion of mine.”

“She really enjoyed performing, ever since she was little,” Rick said. “She’s excelled in it ever since.”

She was recruited by Clarkston pom-pon coaches Mary Jean Cox and Gina Cox to teach dance at Clarkston High School, and coached junior varsity and varsity pom pon for about four years.

“I really enjoyed teaching the girls,” she said. “We were very competitive, always placing in the top three at competitions. It was a good opportunity to learn leadership and teach girls to do their best.”

In 1998, she tried out for the Detroit Piston Dance Team Automotion at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

“It was an open audition,” she said. “Out of more than 200 girls, they picked 13.”

She danced with Automotion for three years.

“I’ve always loved NBA basketball,” she said. “It was really exciting, dancing for thousands of people, seeing the game up close.”

“It was pretty overwhelming to see her out there performing,” Rick said.

She was visiting friends in Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles County, when she got the urge to head west.

“I fell in love with the ocean and everything around it,” she said. “I was working as a cosmetologist, and I thought, if I can do that in Michigan, I can do it here.”

She moved to Los Angeles in 2005, joined Hush Hush Hair Salon on Manhattan Beach, and auditioned for the NBA’s LA Clippers Spirit Dance Team.

“The Clippers also had open auditions, and I got through,” she said. “We dance a lot more. I didn’t know anybody when I got here, and it helped me meet people all over the place.”

In addition to her salon and dance jobs, she also works as a model. She is representing herself to start, but already landed a photo feature in the national fitness magazine Muscle and Fitness’ April edition, sharing the cover with martial artist Bruce Lee.

“I’m always dancing. I’m in good, healthy shape, so I thought I’d try fitness modeling,” she said. “I’ve been getting really good feedback from it.”

She doesn’t miss Michigan’s cold winters – “one of my main reasons for moving to California,” she said – but does enjoy seeing downtown Clarkston when she visits.

“I enjoy Clarkston sporting events and downtown parades. I enjoy going back, and visiting friends and going to the local restaurants,” she said. “I want to thank my friends and family in Clarkston for their support and love. I never could have made it out here without them.”

Heat dancer gets first look at Sports Illustrated swimsuit spread

By Madeleine Marr
The Miami Herald
02.16.09

Ashley Allen caused a scene at her local Barnes & Noble in Boca Raton on Thursday. That’s when the rookie Miami Heat dancer, 20, got her first look at her spread in the 2009 Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.

”I was jumping up and down with my mother,” Allen said Friday on her way to Disney World. “She is so proud — she knows how hard I’ve worked to get here. And to be chosen as a rookie, wow!”

Last fall, after SI selected Allen — who sent the magazine a picture of herself in a skimpy training outfit — she and nine other NBA dancers were flown to New York for the one-day shoot. They posed at a downtown pier from 8 in the morning till 8 at night.

Though Allen, a double-major in communications and business at Florida Atlantic University, is thrilled, she realizes now the pressure is on to look good.

”I’ve got to continue watching my eating habits and training really hard,” Allen says, adding, “Our outfits are a little bit revealing.”

Also, such international exposure can be career-altering: the issue’s cover gal, Leonardo DiCaprio’s girlfriend Bar Refaeli, is really on the map now.

”I’m still trying to process it all,” Allen says. “I haven’t gotten used to the idea.”

Are the other Heat dancers just a little bit jealous?

“Not at all. They know everyone has their moment in time to shine.”

SI coverage suits Pistons dancer just fine

Ursula Watson
The Detroit News
February 24, 2009

What’s it like to be in the glamorous Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition? Ask Rochester’s own Chelsey Buhler.

Buhler is a member of the Pistons’ dance team Automotion and is featured along with nine other NBA dancers inside the pages of the popular publication, currently on newsstands. This is the first time SI has featured NBA dancers in its swimsuit edition. In the past, the magazine has featured NFL cheerleaders.

“I am really happy and honored,” says 21-year-old Buhler.

Rebecca Girard, Automotion’s dance team director, chose Buhler because of her commitment to the organization. And while being genetically gifted helped, Girard says Buhler is more than a pretty face. “She is just an amazing ambassador for us. She is well-spoken, a business woman who has gone on countless appearances for us, and helps to give us the voice that we need.”

When not helping the 19-member dance team hype-up Pistons fans in the stands, Buhler attends Oakland University, where she is a junior majoring in communications. She also works as a dance teacher and works as an administrative assistant at her father’s company.

“Right now, I just focus on each moment, going to school and getting good grades,” says Buhler.

She says family and friends are proud of her but it was a little odd for at least one person. “My dad wasn’t too happy at first, but he got over it and he was the first one to go out and find the issue,” says Buhler.

Since news has spread that she is not only in Sports Illustrated and on the publication’s Web site, sportsillustrated.cnn .com, people are giving her more than the second and third looks that she is probably used to.

“People are coming up to me at Pistons games,” she says. “I have had 800 friend requests on Facebook.”

Harmony Hunt in Muscle and Fitness Magazine

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Harmony Hunt, veteran member of the Los Angeles Clippers Spirit Dance Team (and all around cool chick) is featured in the newest edition of Muscle and Fitness Magazine. Woo! Go Harmony!

You need to go out right now and buy a copy of the magazine. It’s the April 2009 mag with Bruce Lee on the cover. April, not March. I emphasize this because the store I went to only had March and there is a decided lack ‘o Harmony in that edition. (I know this because I spent a good 15 minutes flipping through the magazine trying to find the article, all the time thinking “If Harmony is messing with me, I will not hesitate to let the air out of all four of her tires.”)

Harmony, I apologize. Your tires are perfectly safe.
(From me, anyway.)

Right, so anyway, go get the mag, and read up on our girl. In the meantime, check out a few bonus photos on the M&F website.

(You won’t believe me, but that is what the girl actually looks like in real life. Crazy, ain’t it?)