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Members of the Dallas Cowboys’ hip-hop dancers talk about its uniqueness in the NFL, future plans and performing at the Dallas DanceFest.

by Cheryl Callon
Theater Jones
September 2, 2015

For decades, the group associated with Dallas Cowboys entertainment was the famed cheerleaders. Lately, though, a new troupe has made a name for itself at AT&T Stadium and garnered quite a bit of attention, even if they’re still somewhat unknown in certain circles. The Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue is a co-ed hip-hop dance team and drumline dedicated to engaging fans when the Boys in Blue have home field advantage, and they’re the only team of its kind in the NFL.

The dancers, directed by Jenny Durbin Smith, hope to reach a new set of audiences with their appearance as guest dancers for the Second Annual Dallas DanceFest. I had a chance to catch them in rehearsal, and I was impressed with the group on a number of levels.

Every single member looked as if they could do an informal performance right then. Ladies donned black leggings, a black team shirt, and boasted classy hairstyles and professional makeup. Gentlemen wore black track pants and brand new white shirts with the Cowboys’ silver star and stripe.

Of course, the snazzy get-ups could’ve been because I was crashing the party, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Durbin Smith required it every week. She runs a tight ship, but she’s no dictator. Rehearsal is relaxed but disciplined, and the dancers seem to thrive in that balanced, supportive environment.

After a short conditioning warm-up led by Sammi Paradice (one of four captains), the group got to work on the piece for DanceFest. It looked like something you’d see from an elite hip-hop crew performing on television or at an international competition, with complex arm movements, frequent formation changes, and of course, fierce energy. Some sections have a stepping vibe to them, a few dancers insert robotic moves, and other segments resemble something more akin to cheerleading choreography. But there’s no bubbly buoyancy or high-powered spirit fingers. The performers maintain a level of grit combined with infectious energy that will get people on their feet.

Durbin Smith, a veteran choreographer for commercial dance and sports team squads, has a keen understanding of dynamics and variety. Her eye for precision, synchronization, and visual effect likely contributed a great deal to her success in the field. The dancers seemed to pick up and retain the choreography quite easily (a prerequisite skills for the job), so the rehearsal was spent refining the details.

Another remarkable feat was the level of consistency the dancers exhibited throughout. They came to every phrase with explosive energy, even though the same eight-count may have been drilled 20 times. But what was even more extraordinary was the amount of support the 12 ladies and three men displayed. When one member nailed a part after struggling with it, the rest of the group eagerly applauded the success. When the energy began to wane, one or two would take it upon themselves to rev it back up.

Durbin Smith demonstrates that encouragement herself. Even though she’s stern and commands attention, she knows how to correct in such a way to bring out the best in her dancers.

As enjoyable as it was to watch them rehearse, the most gratifying part of the evening was chatting with the dancers and director. Every single member welcomed me with a smile and a warm greeting, and they were eager to brag on each other and on the team as a whole.

TheaterJones: Why was Rhythm and Blue created?

Jenny Durbin Smith: In 2009 when Cowboys Stadium [now AT&T Stadium] opened, we had the challenge of entertaining more fans. What else from a gameday entertainment aspect could we bring? So we brainstormed and developed Rhythm and Blue, with the drumline and the dancers.

What is unique about the team?

Christen Ancona (Captain): The biggest thing that unique about us is that we’re focused on hip-hop, which is something different for the sports world, especially the NFL, where teams are cheerleading-based or have more traditional [drill team] style of dance. We’re so excited to be a part of the DDF, and being able to represent this genre means a lot to us.

Ariana Thompson (Captain): One of the unique things about us is family, the bond that we have here. We don’t really fight, we don’t get into arguments, we all get along here. It’s really awesome to be dancing for a team that I love. We’re a mixed group of people with different backgrounds, but we come together as one big family.

What kind of dancer do you look for at auditions?

Jenny Durbin Smith: First and foremost, I look for people who can be positive brand ambassadors for the organization. Would they represent the Cowboys name well, can they speak to our fans, can they communicate and engage and make the connection with our fans? Second, I look at dancing ability and of course, image. Also, we are blessed with really strong dancers, so you have to be able to keep up with the dancers already in uniform.

What is your favorite thing about dancing for Rhythm and Blue?

Melody Woodard: My favorite thing is getting to do something I love with some of my best friends. Dancing at the stadium is amazing, we have such great fans. It’s an exciting and different environment than dancing on the stage, which is what I grew up with.

Brittany Robinson: Performing for the best fans in the nation! It’s amazing, there’s no other feeling like it.

Marcus Sophus: I was drawn to the team because it is eye opening and guys are allowed to dance professionally in this arena. Most guys get turned down by pro teams because it’s all female, so this is going to open a lot of doors.

What are the team’s plans for the future?

Jenny Durbin Smith: We perform one production a year with the drumline around Christmas time, but it’s our goal to do more together this year. Also, we are trying to incorporate more breakdancing and acrobatic skills, so that’s been a huge focus for us in rehearsals lately. They’re doing things that many of them have never done, so everyone is going and being pushed. We set our goals and outlined what we want to achieve this year, and they’re amazing because they go all in.

Roll Call: 2015 Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue Dancers

The Cowboys website has been updated with individual profiles for the members of the league’s only co-ed hip hop crew. Click here for more on the ladies and gents.


Sammi, May, and Brooke

2015 Rhythm & Blue Training Camp

The Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue dance team has announced the members of their 2015 training camp. Congratulations!

2015 DCRB Training Camp_640

2015 Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue Finalists

Congratulations!

2015 DCRB Finalists

Behind the Scenes of the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue Dancer Auditions

2014-15 Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue Dancers

New team photo! Click to view full size.

Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue – New Concept, New Look

The Dallas Cowboys hip hop squad, the Rhythm & Blue Dancers went co-ed this year. Well, technically, they were co-ed before. I think. I know they had B Boys. I think maybe they decided to integrate the B Boys and the female dancers into a single unit. That’s a guess. I don’t know much about this team, so I’m 100% clear on what exactly has changed. In any case, new team, new idea, and a new look for 2014. The guys are dressed very similarly to the B Boys of yesteryear, and the girls have ditched their silver onesies and cowboy boots for a more athletic looking costume that coordinates a little better with the guys. So here ’tis, whattaya think?

Sadly, the first thing that came into my head was my mother’s voice. How on earth are they going to keep those pants clean???

Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue Dancers

Training camp is over and the team has been selected. Congratulations!

Dallas Cowboys Announce 2014 Rhythm & Blue Training Campers

17 ladies have been selected to participate in training camp for this year’s team. Auditions for the male members of the team will take place next weekend.

Scenes from DC R&B Auditions

Auditions are under way for the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue Dancers. Click here to check out photo on the team’s Facebook page!

DC R&B performs…and then pops the question

Congrats to Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue alumni Amanda Velasco and her new fiance Jeff!

Cowboys Rhythm and Blue Dancers Get Fired Up for Sunday’s Game

2013-14 Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue Dancers Debut

The DC R&B Dancers are on the cover of the inaugural issue of Dance Team Magazine (click here)! This is our first look at the team in uniform. Looking fierce, ladies!

Standing (back): Brittani, Amy, Antonese
Standing (front): Maya, Miranda, Sammi, Danielle, Brittany, Melody
Kneeling :Stevee, Kara, Arianna
Seated: Christen, Jessica T, Mateya, Kendra, Jessica S.

UNT student, three alumnae join Dallas Cowboys hip-hop dance team

University of North Texas
July 5, 2013

DENTON, Texas (UNT) – A love of dance – and the stamina to dance for hours on end – brought a University of North Texas student and three alumnae together to audition and ultimately make the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm and Blue hip-hop team.

The Dallas Cowboys, in partnership with Miller Lite, selected 17 women to represent them this season as the 2013-2014 Rhythm and Blue Dancers. The final squad was selected on June 7.

UNT dance junior Jessica Stewart, of Dallas, joins the team for her second year. Alumnae Kara Robinson, from The Woodlands, and Kendra Dorsey, from Mansfield, are also back on the team. Robinson is in her second year as captain of the dance team. Alumna Sammi Paradice, from Killeen, just graduated in May with a BFA in dance, and joins the team for the first time.



Kara, Jessica, and Kendra

The Dallas Cowboys introduced the Rhythm and Blue in 2009, a high-energy hip-hop dance team, break crew and drum corps. The Rhythm and Blue Dancers, presented by Miller Lite, were conceptualized under the direction of Dallas Cowboys Executive Vice President of Brand Management Charlotte Anderson and is the first of its kind in the National Football League. Over 65 dancers auditioned for the team. Dancers traveled from Florida, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Osaka, Japan for a chance to audition for the team. The audition process consisted of three rounds; preliminaries, semi-finals, and finals, which were held on April 25th at The Draft Day Party that was presented by Miller Lite and held at Cowboys Stadium. The audition process included choreography, interviews and a test on the Dallas Cowboys franchise history. After a month of training camp, which consisted of 22 finalists, the squad was selected by a panel of judges.

Sammi

While the audition process may seem intense, it’s necessary to see which dancers can fulfill the requirements of the team. Robinson, who graduated this year with a BS in merchandising, notes that the team practices three nights a week for a minimum of three hours. The team also dances before games begin as well as during the game on the Miller Lite Landing, she said.

“This can be extremely tiring and we have to be in great shape in order to be able to dance for that long,” Robinson said. “We are held to the highest standard and much is expected of us because we carry the Dallas Cowboys name.”

The hard work is worth it though when the team sees the reaction of the fans, said Stewart, who was first inspired to start dancing at a young age after watching her aunt salsa dancing.

“My favorite experience was my very first preseason performance in the plaza,” recalled Stewart. “I loved seeing how excited the crowd was when we first stepped out there. We are all so happy to being out there doing what we love.”

The team is a great organization to be a part of and members treat each other like family, she said.

For the newest member of the “family,” the experience so far has furthered her passion for dance.

“This was my first experience auditioning for a professional team and it was nerve-wracking,” said Paradice. “But, I had a solid support system from my family, friends and boyfriend and I knew once I made it that being a part of this team is exactly what I should be doing. If you work hard and show your passion, it will ultimately pay off.”

Paradice credits the strong modern-based dance program at UNT for helping her grow and notes that while she is excited to begin her new journey with the Rhythm and Blue dance team, UNT will always have a place in her heart.

For media interviews about the team and photos, contact

Jenny Durbin Smith, director of the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm and Blue Dancers,

at 214-762-9016 or jdurbin@dallascowboys.net.

About Dallas Cowboys Rhythm and Blue dance team

Rhythm and Blue brings an innovative, unique and exciting element to the Cowboys legendary game-day entertainment line-up. Audiences have been entertained by the talented group of men and women upon entering the plazas of Cowboys Stadium before each game. After every Cowboys’ score during the game, the Rhythm and Blue Dancers dazzle fans with thunderous celebration dance performances from their elevated placement on platforms in the west end zone.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108

Congratulations 2013 Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue Dancers!

Training camp is over and the team has been announced. All nine veterans made it back onto the team. They are joined by seven rookies. It looks like they’ve already been through makeovers. Quite a few of these ladies are sporting a new look.