$templateURI = get_template_directory_uri(); $homeURL = get_home_url(); if ( isset($bfa_ata_preview) OR $bfa_ata['css_external'] == "Inline" OR ( isset($bfa_ata_debug) AND $bfa_ata['allow_debug'] == "Yes" ) ) { echo '

The NBA Dance Team Bracket is Back!

I’m sorry Heat Dancers, but we have to take it away from you this year.
Click here to cast your vote.

SI Gallery Update – NBA

This week, the New Orleans Hornets dance team, the Honeybees, are featured on Sports Illustrated. Go see the photos.

Building for the future

by Frank Jolley, Sports Editor
Daily Commercial
March 12, 2009

LEESBURG — Deanna Clover has been a performer for as long as she can remember.

She has performed in dinner theaters, danced on cruise ships and as a member of the dance teams for the Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League and the NBA’s Orlando Magic.

Clover’s lifetime on stage has allowed her to travel the world as a promotional tool for the NBA and the Magic, and reached a peak this year when she was chosen to represent the team in Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit edition.

Feeling the aches and pains from years of performing and realizing she had likely accomplished as much as she could as a dancer, Clover decided that this year, her fifth with the Magic, would be her final season.

That doesn’t mean, however, that Clover is leaving a business she has devoted most of her life to. Instead of dancing in the limelight, Clover is looking to move into the wings as the dance-team coordinator for the fledgling Leesburg Thundercats professional basketball team.

Clover accepted an offer from Thundercats’ owner Kevin Simmons in December to become the franchise’s first dance-team coordinator. She held tryouts throughout the county and the seven-dancer team was unveiled recently during Eustis’ Georgefest parade.

“Part of my job is to get the Thundercats name out in the public and let them know we’re bringing professional basketball to Lake County,” Clover said. “We’re going to do that by performing at games and by giving dance clinics in the community. We want to be an active part of the community and become a positive influence for young people.

“This team is going to help develop the image people have of the Thundercats, so we want to make a very good impression and be a staple in the community.”

Clover said she decided to make this season her final year as a Magic dancer after suffering a torn labrum and assessing the amount of wear and tear her body has endured over the years. She recently turned 30, and while there is no age limit to be a Magic dancer, the grueling annual auditions to make the team were taking their toll.

Also, because of her commitments to the Magic, Clover was not spending as much time with her family. She has been married for nine years to her husband, Cliff, who she met when she danced on a cruise ship.

In addition to her dancing duties, Clover works part-time at her husband’s real estate business in Kissimmee and she also has taught dance classes at a studio in in Kissimmee.

“The commitment with the Thundercats will not be as big at the Magic,” Clover said. “Outside of the public relations functions, such as giving clinics or taking part in parades, there will be only 15 home games with the Thundercats as opposed to the 41 home games for the Magic. I’m really excited about the possibility of being able to spend more time with my family.”

Simmons said he when he learned about Clover’s availability, he spoke with the Magic’s dance team manager Jeanine Thomas, who recommended that Simmons hire Clover. Simmons said Clover went to work immediately to form a dance team, juggling that with her commitments to the Magic.

“Deanna’s done a great job helping to put a face on this franchise,” Simmons said. “When I started this project, I wanted to move slowly and do things right. Our goal right now is to get the word out about the Thundercats and what better way to that than with a professionally organized dance team.

“Now we have a way to let people know we’re here and I can get down to the job of signing players and putting a product on the floor.”

Simmons said he currently is exploring his options for finding a home for the Thundercats. He has signed three players to contracts, including former Eustis High School standout Jimmy Hudson, and hopes to fill out his roster after the NCAA Tournament and the NBA Draft.

One of the biggest selling points for the Thundercats, Simmons said, will be the cost of attending a game. Whereas a family of four can expect to spend in excess of $100 — and oftentimes more — to watch a Magic game, he believes families will be able to go to a Thundercats game for less than $40.

“We’ll be affordable entertainment,” Simmons said. “I’m hoping to get area businesses on board as sponsors and work together with community leaders to make this Lake and Sumter County’s team. It may take a year or so to get completely established, but I can see the Thundercats becoming something everyone can rally around and take pride in.

“I’m here for the long haul and so are the Thundercats.”

The Thundercats will host the Orlando Kings at 7 p.m. March 21 at the Everett Kelly Convocation Center at Lake-Sumter Community College. A charity game will begin at 5 p.m.

A portion of proceeds from the game, according to Simmons, will be donated to the American Cancer Society.

Luvabulls at the Chicago Auto Show

Reader Joel was at the Chicago Auto Show last month and ran into four of the Chicago Luvabulls.

LuvaBulls
Amye was a Conference Champion gymnast.

LuvaBulls
Angela is a former AFL Chicago Adrenaline Rush Dancer.

LuvaBulls
Second-year Luvabull Ashley is a professional model, aspiring actress and a personal trainer.

LuvaBulls


Kafi is a three-year veteran and also danced for Loyola University Chicago for three years.

[Chicago Luvabulls]

NJ Nets Dancers & More

Nets DancersSasha likes to bestow the title of “Cool Chick” on deserving individuals. I’m not sure if I am comfortable calling anyone a “chick”, but one of the coolest people I’ve met while blogging is New Jersey Nets Entertainment Director Kimberlee Garris.

Kim is a Harvard Grad (BS in Cognitive Neuroscience), a dancer (Captain of the Harvard Dance Team and a two-time Knicks City Dancer) and in charge of the 80 or so entertainers at the Nets Games. The Dazzling Nets Dancers, the stunting Team Hype, the energetic Nets Kids, the Nets Mascot Sly, and more are all her responsibility.

So it was very cool of Kimberlee to arrange for me to get a pass to the March 1st Nets game. It was also Sly’s birthday, so Mascots from around the NBA came to help celebrate (and dunk). But even with that bit of madness going on, Kim made sure I was in the right place to get the best photos.

I had an Entertainment Pass, so I could shoot the performers, but not the game action, which was fine by me. But it meant I had to stay in the tunnel until it was time for performers hit the court. As the lined up I would kneel in front of the dancers (so as not to block the view of any fans). And as soon as the whistle blew, I’d race on to the court, trying to avoid the video camera guys their cables and the players (they are huge). I also didn’t want to trip and go face first on the floor in front of 15,00 fans. Fortunately, there were no incidents.

The next time I do a Wings Angels post, I’ll tell the story of how I almost was stuck out on the lacrosse field (court?) during play.

Let’s see some photos!

Nets Dancers
There are 16 Nets dancers, but there is a rotation system in place and only 12 perform at each game. But we will see a 13th dancer a little later.

Nets Dancers
Nets Entertainers all in a circle before the game. That’s Kimberlee on the far right with the headset.

Nets Dancers
Nets Dancers rehearsing before the game

Nets Dancers
Team Hype

Nets Dancers
Deb is the new coach of the Nets Dancers and is a former Nets Dancer herself. Prior to this season Kimberlee coached the team in addition to all her other responsibilities.

Nets Dancers
Jaclyn is four-year veteran of the Nets Dancers and has a BA in Journalism from rutgers. While she’s not dancing, she doesn’t have the night off. Tonight she’s wokring as ‘Jac of All Nets’ a web show, that she’s co-producing. Check out her show here.

Nets Dancers
This was quite a production/performance with dancers dancing and tumblers tumbling.

Nets Dancers
Getting ready to perform to a re-mix of Beat It. Notice the dancers are wearing just one glove.

Nets Dancers
At halftime the mascots were dunking. Here’s Grizz, the Memphis Mascot flying high.

Nets Dancers
Performances are scheduled to take place at certain time outs. One was scheduled for the first time out with 3 or less minutes to go in the first half. The problem was there were no stoppages of play! The clock counted all the way down to 54 seconds before a whistle. So what happens if there’s is no stoppage? Kim says it has never happened, but if it did, they’d just go on at the next timeout in the following quarter.

Nets Dancers
What keeps the Dancers and the rest powered through game day? Gatorade

Nets Dancers
If the game goes into the overtime, the Dancers have on additional performance at the end of regulation. Here they are rehearsing the routine in the tunnel.

More photos here.

[New Jersey Nets Dancers]

SI Gallery Update – NBA

The Phoenix Suns Dancers make their first appearance in the Sports Illustrated NBA Dance Team gallery this week. Go check it out!

New A-Town Website


The Atlanta Hawks have finally updated their page for the A-Town Dancers. Go check it out!

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.”

Bowl Off: Sixers Dancers vs. Wings Angels

Sixers Dancers vs Wings Angels

Like the poster says, the Sixers Dancers battled the Wings Angels in a Bowl Off last Friday at Pinsetter Bar & Bowl in Pennsauken, NJ. The winning team would donate tickets for a future Philadelphia 76ers or Wings game to local womens’ charities in the Philadelphia region. A team of fans/bowlers would also get the chance to face off against the winners.

Sixers Dancers vs Wings Angels
Both Dance Teams pose for a photo before the competition begins.

Sixers Dancers vs Wings Angels
Janeen in introduced

Sixers Dancers vs Wings Angels
Jessica

Sixers Dancers vs Wings Angels
Lauren concentrates

Sixers Dancers vs Wings Angels
Lanes 17 & 18 were the center of attraction for the evening.

Sixers Dancers vs Wings Angels
The Sixers win the Bowl-Off, 531-389. This prompted Sixers Head Coach Christian Naven to suggest that her dancers should take on the Phillies Ball Girls on the bowling lanes instead of the softball field in the future.

Sixers Dancers vs Wings Angels
Another shot of Janeen

The rest of the photos here.

[Sixers Dancers]

[Wings Angels]

Pistons Automotion Dancer Chelsey Buhler Splashes into Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition

By Patricia Montemurri
Detroit Free Press

ChelseyShe’s not the cover girl of the vaunted Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, but Oakland University student and Detroit Pistons Automotion dancer Chelsey Buhler holds her own on Page 160. Buhler, 21, was one of 10 women chosen from NBA dance squads to model in itsy-bitsy teenie-weenie bikinis in the annual issue, now on newsstands.

Page views: Since Buhler’s profile was featured in SI — and in 36 different poses on its Web site — she’s become a fan favorite at Pistons games. She also got 800 unsolicited requests, nearly all of them from strangers, to be friends on Facebook.

Curriculum Vitae: Buhler, an Ortonville-Brandon High graduate, is majoring in communications at Oakland University and is thinking of going to law school or getting an MBA. She was on the dance team for the WNBA Shock for two years before trying out for the Pistons squad three years ago.

Gotta dance: She took lessons — ballet, tap, jazz and hip-hop — starting at age 3 at Creative Dance Center in Ortonville. “I used to obsess about learning a dance routine and knowing it. I couldn’t sleep because I was thinking about a dance routine. It wasn’t enough to do it in my head. I had to get up and dance around at 3 a.m.”

Shoutout: At Pistons games, fans who recognize her shout out “Hey, Sports Illustrated.”

Big Apple Photo Shoot: SI flew her out to New York City for three days in September. They gave her a bikini in the Pistons’ red, white and blue colors. During the one-day photo shoot, she also posed with women from other dance teams, and shot a video.

Career opportunity or cheesecake?
Buhler says she doesn’t view the exposure as being treated like a sex object.

“I think they did a good job of portraying us as professional dancers,” she says. “This is something that every girl wants. You look at the girls in the Sports Illustrated edition and how pretty they are, and you never think you’re going to be in it. And when you are, it’s like a dream come true.”

Bottom line: Some 68 million people eyeballed the swimsuit issue last year, according to SI, and the Web site drew 8.2 million unique visitors. Buhler says she got a small fee plus expenses while in New York City.

“Nobody has said I’m their screen saver yet,” she says. “But I’ve gotten at least 400 text messages saying I look great in the magazine.”

[Automotion]

[Chelsey at SportsIllustrated.com]

SI Gallery Update – NBA

This week, the Los Angeles Laker Girls are back for a repeat appearance in the Sports Illustrated NBA dance team gallery. Click here to check it out!

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.”

Nets Dancer a ‘Jac’ of All Trades

by Ben Couch
NJNETS.COM

Jaclyn, NJ Nets You might know her as the “Jac of All Nets,” or the coach of the NETSational Senior Dancers, or a model in the Capezio catalog, or “that girl” in several commercials or … well, you get the point. However you’re familiar with Nets Dancer Jaclyn, it’s safe to say she’s exploring the opportunities afforded her.

The Pomona, N.Y. native, now in her fourth year with the team, is a Rutgers graduate with a degree in broadcast journalism. Jaclyn recently took time out of her crowded schedule – 16-hour workdays! – for an exclusive interview with NJNets.com.

NJNets.com: You’re entering your fourth year with the Nets Dancers. How’d you get started with the team?

Jaclyn: I was on a Broadway tour, right after I graduated from Rutgers, and I broke my foot on the tour. They sent me home, and after many months of rehab, I heard that Petra Pope was coming over from the Knicks, and she was starting a new team with the Nets. I thought it something I would be interested in, and when I looked it up online, I saw the audition was the next day. So I just showed up, and I’ve been here ever since.

NJNets.com:
That’ll do it, ha. Two follow-up questions. First: How’d you break your foot?

Jaclyn: I was on the national tour of the Broadway show Contact, which is all swing dancing, and I was dancing with my partner, who – I don’t want to say he dropped me, but he kind of did. I was in 3-inch heels and when my foot hit the ground, I heard it pop. I finished the show on a broken foot. But once I saw the X-Ray and I saw the purple, I knew it was time to go home.

NJNets.com: And what about Petra coming to the Nets made you want to audition?

Jaclyn: Going to Rutgers, I lived with a couple of the Knicks City Dancers, so I knew about her, I knew her background starting the Laker Girls and coming here to New York. I knew that she would run a great team and a program I’d be proud to be a part of, so I figured I’d give it a try.

NJNets.com:
What made you come back after that first year?

Jaclyn: There’s nothing like it. as a dancer, to be able have a steady gig dancing is very rare. I loved all the ladies I danced with, they became best friends of mine and it just doesn’t feel like a job. No matter how many hours we put in, or how many injuries we have, it’s just always fun. There’s no reason to give it up until the time is right.

Jaclyn, NJ Nets NJNets.com: In four years, have you made any memorable mistakes?

Jaclyn: Mistakes … let me think. I think everybody’s probably had a mistake now and then. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything absolutely awful. Thank God – knock on wood – I’ve never tripped on my face and fell. Watch – I’ll do that at the next game. Hopefully not.

I would say costume malfunctions are always an issue, that kind of thing. I know I had an issue in my second season with a pair of shorts being too short, and I got in trouble for that, but ironically that picture ended up on the Web site for the dancer contest the NBA has every year. It got us to the second round, so I can’t complain now.

NJNets.com: What’s been your hardest routine?

Jaclyn: We do so many different styles of dance, that’s probably the hardest part, is transitioning. We’ll do something very Broadway-ish; we did a Lion King number last year where we were barefoot. It was very modern and we had a choreographer from the Broadway show come in and teach it. Then we do Fosse-style numbers and we do really serious hip-hop dances. We’re all over the place: salsa, swing – you name it, we do it. That’s what makes it fun. It’s why we like to do what we do; it never makes it boring.

NJNets.com: Do you have a stylistic preference?

Jaclyn: You know, I don’t. I enjoy partner dancing, I think it’s fun and appreciate that we get to do it here as well. But I love hip-hop and jazz; I was trained in jazz my whole life. Whatever we do, I’m loving it. I guarantee you that.

NJNets.com: How’d you get involved with Contact?

Jaclyn: I auditioned when I graduated from college. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, a lifelong dream of mine was always to be on Broadway, and I figured, “Let’s give it a shot, see what happens.” And they hired me.

Check out parts two and three of Jaclyn’s interview.

[New Jersey Nets Dancers]

Dancer Bowl-Off and Watch Party

Dance Team beauties from the Sixers Dancers and Wings Angels will go head-to-head in the first ever “Dancer Beauty Bowl-Off” during a double viewing party at Pinsetter Bar and Bowl in Pennsauken, NJ on Friday, February 27 beginning at 7 p.m. The winner of the bowl-off will donate tickets for a future Philadelphia 76ers or Wings game to local women’s charities in the Philadelphia region.

Sixers Dancers Bowl OffSixers Dancers Bowl Off

Fans will be able to meet all the dancers while watching the 76ers at the New York Knicks (7:30 p.m. on CN8) and the Philadelphia Wings at the Edmonton Rush (9:30 p.m. on NLL Network) – all on the big screens at Pinsetter Bar and Bowl. One lucky group of fans will also be selected to play the winning dance team in a bowling match on Friday night.

The Sixers Dancers and Wings Angels have received renowned local and national attention for their respective Dance Team Calendars for 2009. Calendars will be on sale for fans to purchase and get autographed by their favorite dancer. Admission to the event is free.

Gilbert woman finds fame in swimsuit issue

by Katherine Greene
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 24, 2009

Fame hit Gilbert’s Kayla Oberg when she least expected it.

The “Sports Illustrated” swimsuit model was at the grocery store with no make-up on, wet hair and glasses. She was putting the contents of her cart on the conveyor belt to check out when the older man in front of her asked when the new “Sports Illustrated” was coming out.

Oberg panicked.

“I was like, ‘Please, don’t look this way!'” she said.

She turned her face away and forgot to take all of the items out of her cart.

“I’ve never stolen anything in my entire life and here I was about to jack a Valentine’s Day card,” she said, giggling. “I was so nervous.”

Oberg, a Phoenix Suns dancer, is one of ten NBA dancers featured in this year’s Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. It hit newsstands Feb. 11.

Oberg said she got a wave of text messages the day before that, when the photos went online.

“It’s kind of overwhelming,” she said.

The Time Inc.-owned magazine chose Oberg after seeing photos of her published on the NBA Web site, she said. Last year, the magazine featured 10 NFL cheerleaders.

The shyness Oberg experienced in the grocery store isn’t normal for her, she said. Four years of work as a NBA dancer helped her get comfortable in front of the Sports Illustrated cameras during the 13-hour shoot, even in her skivvies.

“When you dance for the Suns you have to have 100 percent confidence. Otherwise, you couldn’t get out there,” she said.

The toughest part of the photo shoot wasn’t getting in front of the cameras, she said; it was waiting to see the photos afterward.

The magazine’s representative showed Oberg only one photo two days before the photos went online.

“I’m actually more nervous that it’s out, knowing everyone can see it,” she said.

Oberg was born in Mesa and grew up in Gilbert, attending Gilbert High School and enrolling in Arizona State University for a short time. Her husband of 10 months owns the Stax Burger Bistro in Scottsdale.

Her husband and father were a little wary of Oberg having the photos taken, but they’ve both been supportive, she said.

“They’re just so proud of me,” she said.

Oberg has wanted to be a performer almost all her life. The passion started when she was 4, in a dance class taught by Amy Mickelson, golfer Phil’s wife.

Amy Mickelson was a dancer for the Suns at the time, Oberg said, and it inspired her to perform. As soon as Oberg was old enough to audition, she did – and made it. The first year she was part of the team, the Mickelsons attended a game.

“I was so excited,” she said. “I don’t even think she recognized me.”

Oberg has made the team every year since.

She doesn’t see much of a future for herself in modeling, Oberg said. Her 5’2″ frame limits where she can apply. Most modeling agencies ask that you not send in photos unless you’re 5’9″, she said.

And her addiction to the food at her husband’s restaurant has her a little worried about the future of her figure, she said. To stay in shape, she walks her two puppies every other day. But she also has dance practice twice a week and performances during games that help her stay slim.

If any modeling jobs come her way, she’d jump at the chance, she said.

And she hopes to have kids in the next few years, she said.

Meanwhile, she’ll stick with dancing.

Click here to see her Sports Illustrated video.