Random Cheerleader Pic of the Day

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Hamden woman now a New England Patriots Cheerleader

Melissa DeChello (Photo provided by the New England Patriots)

Melissa DeChello (Photo provided by the New England Patriots)

By Macy Corica, WTNH.com Staff and Anne Craig, WTNH Anchor
WTNH.com
April 22, 2016

HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A life-long Patriots fan from Hamden will now get to attend every game as she cheers for the team on the sidelines.

For Melissa DeChello, it’s a no-brainer. The Hamden-native has been dancing and teaching dance for years.

This fall, she’ll be cheering for one of the elite teams in pro football.

“This was my very first NFL tryout, so really Patriots was my only choice,” said DeChello.

The New England Patriots.

“It’s a really incredible organization, they obviously do really well. They’ve been in the Super Bowl multiple times and it’s really close to me,” said DeChello.

Melissa, who attends the University of New Haven, joins roughly three-dozen other women who made it through a grueling tryout process.

“It was really draining on the body, we had some fitness portions where we had a trainer come in and do hour-long intense workouts with us, so that was a lot to go through,” said DeChello.

Now, they’ll practice a couple days a week. There are promotional appearances for the team, and then on Sunday, it’s Game Day.

You can bet all of her friends and family will be rooting for her, but maybe not for her team.

“I’ve always been a Patriots fan, my brother has always been a Cowboys fan. So we get along, we don’t really let that affect us,” said DeChello.


Sidebar: Melissa is a former Westchester Knicks Dancer

Legends Dancers Receive Call-Up to Mavericks, Cowboys

From The Texas Legends Website:

The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders have announced their 2013-14 roster which includes a former Texas Legends Dancer.

Courtni Wedeman was a member of the 2012-13 Legends Dance Team directed by Jen Contreras and Next Step Dance. This was Courtni’s first season as a Legends’ dancer as she made the team straight out of Texas Tech University. While at Tech, Courtni was a member of the Red Raider Pom Squad.

To make the team, the ladies had to survive multiple rounds of auditions before being invited to “DCC Training Camp” where the final cuts were made.

Jen Contreras, a former Maverick Dancer, has been the team’s Director since the first season while also teaching classes at Next Step. “We are extremely proud of all of our girls getting call-ups this off season. Courtni has been an incredible addition to the Legends’ squad but we are so happy to see her take that step and perform on such a large stage” said Contreras.


The Dallas Mavericks Dance Team has announced the 2013-14 roster, which includes two former Texas Legends dancers.

Amy Boyer and Kass Armendariz were both members of the 2012-13 Legends Dance Team directed by Jen Contreras and Next Step Dance. Amy completed her second season with the Legends while it was the first for Kass. The girls were put through two rounds of auditions before being accepted into Training Camp where the final cuts were made yesterday for next season’s team.

Jen Contreras, a former Maverick Dancer, has been the team’s Director since the first season while also teaching classes at Next Step. “Like our basketball team we strive to train our girls with the goal in mind of getting that call up. We’re very proud of Kass and Amy and excited to watch them on that stage next season” said Contreras.

Sasha here, if I may butt in for just a moment, the Dallas Stars Ice Girls have also snapped up two members of last year’s Legends team for this year’s squad. Congrats to Belinda Linker and DeAmber Houston-Dailey!

Fort Wayne’s Madame Ants Dance Team tryouts test dancer’s commitment, talent

More than 20 women try out for Madame Ants Dance Team
By Jaclyn Goldsborough
The News-Sentinel
August 5, 2013

[photo gallery]

For small-town Pennsylvania transplant Lierin Rossman, the Madame Ants Dance Team was a perfect opportunity to advance her dance skills while meeting people in Fort Wayne.

Rossman began dancing in high school and continued through college and law school. When she moved to Fort Wayne to work at Bellinger Law Office last year, she tried out for and made the Madame Ants Dance Team. This year, she is hoping for a repeat.

On Saturday, Rossman and 14 other prospective team members tried out for the Madame Ants Dance Team at the Concordia Theological Seminary Gymnasium. Another try out was to be held Monday afternoon.

A total 20 women tried out for the team, but coach and choreographer Sheenah Johnson had the toughest job of all – deciding which 10 to 12 women will make the team.

“Being a Madame Ant is a huge time commitment, requiring dedication and professionalism. The Madame Ants Dance Team is a huge steppingstone for these dancers,” she said.

Johnson, a former dance team member, said no matter how long she continues to do her job, it never gets any easier.

“It’s nerve-wracking for me at tryouts because I look at the overall potential of the group. It’s tough looking at the new members versus the returning members. I don’t like to hurt anyone and I don’t want anyone to go home with hurt feelings, but at the end of the day, it’s who actually brought it that day. I look at who was ready, prepared, physically fit, understood the routine, retained (the dance) fast and performed well,” Johnson said.

These women spend a lot of time with each other over the course of the Mad Ant’s season.

Rossman said the women on the team connect on many levels, from their love of dance to laughs over lunch.

“We are good friends. We hang out outside of dance. We go to TinCaps games, grab lunch or that kind of stuff. Everyone is friendly and we don’t have spats or cliques. We have a really great dynamic,” Rossman said.

Preseason practice includes a weekend camp to learn routines, expectations and team-building. The team practices twice a week during the season: two hours Tuesday and four hours Sunday. The team performs at 24 home games, spending at least five hours at each game. There are also required community appearances throughout the season.

Rossman said the team works hard and is always trying to find ways to please the crowd.

“We put a lot more work in this than many people realize. It’s a lot of work including the blood, sweat and tears,” Rossman said. “It can be exhausting and overwhelming sometimes but everyone makes do. We put our time in to make everything look good. That is what we do, we aim to please.”

While the women are paid for the work, Heidi Busch, director of communications and game operations, said it’s a lot of work for not much pay.

“They are the face of the team. When you come to a Mad Ants game the first thing you experience is a greeting from the team. Every year the standard for the team is set high. They are classy ladies who are good dancers and have a good face for us especially coming off of a great season last year. The (basketball) team can do whatever. They can win. They can lose. But every night you will get to see great dancing and meet some high caliber girls,” Busch said.

To see who made this year’s Madame Ants Dance Team, check out The News-Sentinel on Wednesday when Johnson will announce the full roster.

Canton Charge Girls Auditions Set For August 18th

 

The Canton Charge are pleased to announce they will hold open auditions for the 2013-14 Charge Girls dance team. The tryouts will take place on Sunday, August 18th at 10:00 a.m. at the J. Babe Stearn Community Center (2628 13th St SW, Canton, OH 44710). Those selected will be a group of talented, hardworking, enthusiastic and outgoing women who will represent the Canton Charge on the court and in the community throughout the 2013-14 NBA Development League season.

Judges will be looking for dancers who fit the style and energy of the Charge Girls through their physical performance and personality. Semi-finalists selected in the preliminary round of the audition will then compete in a second round of auditions and an interview process before the final individuals are chosen.

Interested participants can secure their tryout spot by completing the online pre-registration form at CantonCharge.com. On-site registration begins at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, August 18th and the auditions start promptly at 10:00 a.m. Requirements include that candidates must be at least 18 years old at the time of auditions (there is no maximum age limit) and a registration fee of $20.

Team members must have reliable means of transportation and flexible schedules for rehearsals, games and appearances for one full year, including pre-season and post-season events. For more information on the audition guidelines and process, call (216) 216-420-2255 or email ccg@cantoncharge.com.

The Canton Charge Girls are ambassadors for the Charge organization who uphold a high standard of professionalism on and off the basketball court and are committed to bringing top-notch performances and entertainment to each and every Charge home game, as well as being dedicated representatives in community outreach initiatives.

[Canton Charge Girls]

 

 

Photo of the Day – January 25


Aisha of the Anaheim Arsenal A-List Girls

BayHawks dance team member glad she pursued her passion for performing

Missy Tesauro, a member of the Erie BayHawks Dance Team, performs during a game against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants at Erie Insurance Arena on Jan. 13. JACK HANRAHAN/ERIE TIMES-NEWS

John Dudley
Erie Times-News
January 22, 2013

Missy Tesauro has been dancing since age 3, often alone in front of a mirror at home to memorize routines.

It makes her a little sad to know that, in a few months, her three years as a performer for the Erie BayHawks dance team will end, and she’ll head out into the working world as a respiratory therapist.

In the meantime, she’s enjoying each remaining home game with Erie’s National Basketball Association Development League affiliate.

“I didn’t think I would dance when I got to college; I didn’t think I was good enough,” said Tesauro, 22, a Uniontown native whose mother, Gina, persuaded her to try out after two years on Gannon University’s dance team.

“I’m so glad I did it,” she said. “I tell people all the time, ‘Don’t give up on your passion.'”

1) What does it take to become a dancer at the NBA D-League level?

It takes dedication. We have practices every Sunday, games that you have to attend.

We practice a lot at home, too, turn the music on and dance in front of the mirror. It does take a lot of time to practice a routine so it’s ready to perform at a game.

We also have appearances. In December, some of the girls helped the team with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. We went to Target and bought presents with the team.

2) Did it take awhile to get over the jitters when you first performed?

It really did. The first year, every time we went out on the floor my heart would just race. I would be so nervous.

Whenever we went out, I would look just above the crowd so I didn’t notice the people, because seeing them made me even more nervous. Now, I can look at people in the eye while I’m dancing, and I’m OK.

3) Do you have a favorite part of game nights?

My favorite moments are whenever we get ready back in our locker room before the game. We turn up the music and get ready, and it’s nice just getting time to spend together before we’re all stressed out about having to perform.

All three years that I’ve been on the team have been great as far as getting along, and that’s fairly rare. Whenever you think of girls, sometimes people think, “Oh, they’re catty.” But we have a ton of fun, and we’re all really good friends. We hang out together outside of the BayHawks and connect on a different level other than just dancing.

4) Do some of the dance team members have aspirations to move up and perform in the NBA?

Two of our dance team members tried out for the (Cleveland) Cavaliers dance team last year. I don’t think either of them made it, but when you’re working for the D-League team it’s a little easier to make that transition.

I know I won’t (try out). I’m going to start working, so I’ll really miss it.

Hopefully if I’m still in the area I can help out with the BayHawks. And if I have the spare time, maybe I’ll continue to take dance classes.

5) Your bio on the team website says you like to bake. Do you have a favorite dish?

Just this Christmas we made sour cream cookies. They’re my family’s favorite.

My family, we’re Italian, so we’re full of people who can cook and bake really well. My grandma’s really good at baking.

I think it’s in my blood that I have to become a good baker, too. I don’t cook much at school, but whenever I’m home my family tries to teach me how to cook. I guess they’re trying to domesticate me.

Idaho Stampede Spirit Dance Team to Audition for New Dancers

The Idaho Stampede has announced they will be holding Stampede Spirit Dance Team Tryouts August 24 and 25.

The tryouts will be held at Studio C Academy of Dance and at the offices of the Idaho Stampede. Applicants are required to be at least 18 years old at the time of auditions and must be a high school graduate or have a GED.

Questions can be directed to Stampede Spirit Dance Team Director Jessica Rowland at (208) 863-1314 or spiritdanceteam@hotmail.com.

[Audition Application]

Stampede Spirit Dancers Join Sea Gals

Charlotte and Cassie: Their Journey
Former Stampede Spirit Dancers both made NFL’s Seattle Seahawks dance team “Sea Gals”

By Travis Tate
Idaho Stampede
5/16/2012

Faced with just a minute on the clock, the pressure mounts. Thinking of all the time, energy and mental preparation from the past few months, the competitor hopes to stay calm and stay away from a trip up or mental mistake.
Of course, with the help of a teammate, the moment can become more manageable, but there’s still that clock that tells you that just 60 seconds remain.
Then, the music starts.

This was not the end of a Stampede basketball game, though – it was the challenge of making the Seattle Sea Gals, the official dance squad of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. Former Stampede Spirit Dance Team member Charlotte fought through the pressure, making the 32-member squad with lots of preparation, but also the ability to just flow with the music.

“The music starts and your body just starts moving,” said Charlotte. “I was just happy to feel the music and feel relaxed.”

For the open call in mid-April, each participant is asked to simply dance for 60 seconds – considering the pressure and importance of this task, many dancers may script out every move, but that idea is thrown out the door considering the dancer does not know the music they will hear as they dance.

“There’s a lot of pressure because you don’t know the music that they’re going to play. I’m glad I didn’t make anything up and go out there and forget what I’m going to do – I wasn’t trying just to run through the moves,” Charlotte said. “The Seahawks are the only team that I know of that have freestyle in their audition process, so it’s kind of unique to them. It’s very scary, but I was very happy because it was similar to the Stampede experience.”

Charlotte, still in Seattle after the 3-week long tryout process, said that she feels Seattle is similar to Boise, but is just larger. She had a number of visits to Seattle over the past year, visiting her close friend, former Stampede Spirit teammate and current Sea Gal teammate Cassie.

Cassie (left) and Charlotte

“Cassie and I had become a few years earlier from the BSU dance squad and when we had auditions for the Stampede, I told her to come on out and that she would totally love it,” Charlotte explained. Last season, Cassie made the Sea Gals, and the two stayed in close contact.

“I came out here and made sure I loved the city and met some other Sea Gals – and they are all really, really nice, and they all gave me advice and some things to expect and were all very, very helpful,” Charlotte said. “There are a lot of mother-figures on the team, a very diverse team – they’re just all great.
“The city is different from Boise, but it’s still the West. The water is beautiful and I’ve been to Pike and a couple restaurants, but so far, I’ve just gone to the gym a lot and auditions. It’s good to not be going somewhere completely different like the East Coast or Miami or something.

The stadium is absolutely phenomenal, all the facilities are beautiful and wonderful. Right now, I’m just glad to get to be a part of the program.”

As for her future, Charlotte isn’t certain, but having made an NFL dance squad is reason enough to celebrate. For now, she doesn’t know what’s next.

“Some girls use this for a modeling future,” Charlotte said. “For me, this is the last possible thing I could do. I don’t know what else is higher than dancing for an NFL team. It’s what I’ve wanted to do for a really, really long time.”

With the preparation of her dance career all finished and a major goal finally accomplished, Charlotte will just listen and go wherever the music takes her.

Colts Cheerleaders entertain in Fort Wayne

During one of the March Fort Wayne Mad Ants home games, there was twice the cheer! In addition to the Madame Ants, six Colts Cheerleaders arrived to help greet fans as they entered Allen County’s War Memoral Coliseum, then they served as the halftime entertainment, and lastly provided autographs for the scores of Colts (and Colts Cheerleaders) fans in attendance.

Most of the visiting Colts Cheerleaders had connections to northern Indiana, or even more north of that! Brittany B is from Jenison, Michigan, and was joined by Indiana’s Marissa S of Huntington, Lindsay F of Churubusco, Megan M of Auburn, and Lindsay H of Muncie. Sadee R represented the area south of Indy, from Mooresville. When the Colts Cheerleaders arrived in the concourse, there were lots of hugs and laughs with the Madame Ants.

And tonight (Tuesday) is a huge night for Colts Cheerleaders, as the 2012 squad will be selected! The event will consist of several dance routines, evening wear, and a swimsuit competition. Approximately sixty-five women will compete for the opportunity to be a member of the 2012 Colts Cheerleaders after a three week audition process. With any “Luck,” this year’s draft will be the beginning of a new era of Big Blue excellence.

Lindsay F is from Churubusco, Indiana, "Turtle Town, USA"

Here are some more photos of their appearance in Fort Wayne, and click this link for more CC in FW photos.

Megan M is from Auburn, an important town in automobile history

Marissa S is from Huntington, IN, home of The United States Vice Presidential Museum and VP Dan Quayle

Continue reading Colts Cheerleaders entertain in Fort Wayne

Fort Wayne Madame Ants Alicia and Emma take a spin at pro cheer in the NBADL

Second year Madame Ant Emma and her coach Melanie

Melanie and rookie Madame Ant Alicia

Fort Wayne’s Madame Ants of the NBA-D League team are comprised of women that run the gamut across a range of experiences and dance studios. This is exemplified by Alicia and Emma, both with years and years of training, but both needed to learn new aspects of pro cheer/dance. For instance for Emma, dance started in high school after growing up in gymnastics. Emma explains, “It is completely different because we turn opposite ways in gymnastics. (Coach Melanie) says, ‘No, you have to turn the other way. And you have to do it on the other leg,” Ugh!” In contrast, at the age of three, Alicia started dance training with Madame Ants choreographer Tiffany Winling. So Alicia should have no trouble transitioning to the Madame Ants, right? “I was kind of scared at first,” Alicia explains. “I don’t do gymnastics, I don’t do cheerleading, I dance. For time outs, we have to go out and dance with poms; that’s not my thing. I like choreography. All of the free style? No. But it turned out more fun than I thought.” Being part of the Madame Ants has provided both Alicia and Emma the chance to experience new aspects of dance, make new friends, and look to the future for further expansion of their dance horizons.

Emma’s gymnastics training covered 18 years, and she only started dancing during her sophomore year of high school. Emma’s high school started a hip hop group, and Emma had always danced at the school dances, and people encouraged her to try out. At auditions, Emma recalls, “I was asked, ‘Where have you danced at?’ ‘Does my basement count?’ It kind of went from there; I ended up running the hip hop team for a couple of years.”

Emma is in her second season with the Madame Ants, and was encouraged to try-out by, “My old dance coach, she just thought it would be good for me,” Emma explains. “What really made me to come back (for season two) is it really is a fun thing to do. The crowd is always nice to talk to, especially the kids when we do the clinics. The main motivation is experience to move up dancing.”

Fort Wayne native Alicia also was encouraged to try-out, as Alicia laughs, “My dance studio owner that I have known since I was little is the choreographer, and she kind of made me. And I knew (Madame Ants coach) Mel beforehand.” And being part of the Madame Ants provided Alicia a chance to do something she had never done before, “This is the first time I have seen basketball,” Alicia says. “Game one.”

And not only are Madame Ants like Alicia and Emma at the game, but for most of it, the squad is sitting on the ends of the court, right near the action. Sometimes, too close to the action. Emma explains, “Last season, I was landed on a few times and sometimes the refs step on you as they run by. I almost had my head taken off with a basketball. I don’t know where the pass was supposed to go, but it wasn’t near a player. Down here, usually the closer to the basket you are, the more in danger you are.” This season, Emma is further from the basket, so less interactions with the action for her. As Madame Ants coach Melanie laughs, “We like to switch it up for accident prone opportunities,” and Melanie and Alicia are closer to the basket this season.

Continue reading Fort Wayne Madame Ants Alicia and Emma take a spin at pro cheer in the NBADL

At 21, Madame Ant Melanie spices things up as the NBA D-League’s youngest dance team coach

Madame Ant Melanie is lead dancer and coach

The Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA D-League have added a couple of very notable coaches this season. On the hoops side, March Madness legend Christian Laettner came to town as an assistant coach. But for the dance team, the Madame Ants did not have to look far to find the youngest dance coach in the NBA D-League. Madame Ant Melanie is coaching, performing, and generally leading the league in enthusiasm, all while being the league’s youngest dance coach at the age of 21. Melanie is in her fourth season with the Madame Ants, which are in their fifth season dancing for home games at Allen County’s War Memorial Coliseum. Melanie’s journey to her leadership role was facilitated by extraordinary role models, a lifelong love of dance and desire to teach others, academic training in Communications, and her devotion to and appreciation of two key attributes: Determination and passion. These traits triggered a journey in which Melanie went from having little interest in trying out for the Madame Ants to coaching the squad in four short years.

Melanie was born and raised in Indiana, though her family has East coast roots. Melanie recalls, “My mom is actually from the Bronx, and my dad is from Nutley, New Jersey, so my oldest sister is from out East, then they moved here to be near family. I am the first Hoosier in the house.”

Melanie’s personal dance journey began at age three. A self-described “typical studio kid,” Melanie started taking classes at the local Northeast School of Dance. But Melanie’s dance life took new directions as a student at Bishop Dwenger High School, dancing on a state champion hip hop team coached by Haley Heath-Wood, one of her key mentors. “Once I started learning from Haley,” Melanie explains, “She opened the world to me. At Dwanger, they are specifically hip hop, and I had more jazz and ballet over at Northeast. Completely changed my world. It changed how I performed, it changed how I wanted to look as a dancer, it changed how I wanted to convey a message through dance, and that was all because of Haley. And I think she knows that, but I don’t think she knows how MUCH I depend on her.”

Melanie (center) with Emma and Betsy during pre-game fan welcomes

Being part of her high school team provided Melanie the first chance to spend time at another studio that she always wanted to be part of, Tiffany Winling’s Tiffany and Co. Studio of Dance, which would years later also serve as a conduit to connect Melanie to the Madame Ants coaching position. Melanie had always desired dancing at Tiffany’s studio, saying, “I always wanted to go there, (and I’d tell my mom), ‘They are SO good! I want that, I want them to make me perfect. I want it!’ My mom would say, ‘No, we are not a competitive family. We are just doing it for fun.’ (I’d say), ‘Mom! Come on!’”

After high school, Melanie’s mom encouraged her to try-out for the Madame Ants after seeing their try-out information, but this time it was Melanie who resisted. “After I graduated high school,” Melanie recalls, “My mom said, ‘Why don’t you try out for this?’ At first, I was kind of iffy about it, I thought, ‘No, they are not good.’ But I had never seen them. I was 18, I was naïve, didn’t know anything. And while I was on the Bishop Dwanger dance team, we won state in the highest division possible, so I thought, ‘You can’t get any higher than this. You just can’t.’ But I had never been to a Mad Ants game, never once saw the Madame Ants dance, never ever. So my mom was like, just go do it.” Upon looking at the flyer, they realized that Melanie was two-weeks shy of the 18-year age requirement, but Melanie’s mom talked to the Mad Ants office and explained the two-week differential and Melanie’s experience, and the Mad Ants encouraged Melanie to try-out.

In their second NBA-D season at the time, the Madame Ants coach at the time was former Indiana Pacemate Sheenah Johnson, and even before Melanie was 18, her leadership potential was noticed. Melanie remembers, “I tried out, and while all the other girls were learning their routine, I think Sheenah saw something in me. So while the others were auditioning, (Sheenah had me) in the corner, kind of guiding the girls, to see if they forgot something. (I thought), ‘If I am doing this, did I make the team?’ I just wasn’t sure. But I did get a call back, and it was awesome. I liked it a lot; I really did, so that is how I got here. This is where it started, I grew up here, basically, because when you are 18, you don’t know anything, and I am 21 now, and I am still learning, and I want to keep learning.”

In her first seasons, in some ways Melanie’s young age fostered her development as a leader, because the older Madame Ants had more non-dance activities in their lives. “While Sheenah was coaching, she had her own dance studio, and I think she saw leadership in me. When she could not make it (to games), I would be the one leading the girls; I would be the one saying, ‘Okay, let’s go practice.’ Because I was younger, (my attitude was), ‘I just want to dance, let’s go!’ So Sheenah put that responsibility on me.”

Concurrent with Melanie’s four seasons as a Madame Ant, she has been a full time college student studying Communications with a minor in Dance at Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW). Melanie is a senior but plans to continue for a second degree in media communications. Melanie has also had internships that cover the gamut of communications, including one at a radio station, a web design and promotional solutions company, and a local auto dealer doing their social media for their on-line audience.

So in the vast array of methods of communication, would Melanie rather than be the person with the microphone or the person at the social media keyboard? “A couple of years ago when we had our draft party, somehow I was named emcee for the night,” Melanie remembers. “So I had the microphone, and it is kind of intimidating because everyone is staring at you, and when you are at the computer, you don’t have people staring at you. But I like being in front of people, I like talking to people. It is something everyone has to do, this is my education coming out, everybody has to communicate, and I like figuring out how people like to communicate.”

Before the game, Melanie and the Madame Ants greet fans while a live band plays


Continue reading At 21, Madame Ant Melanie spices things up as the NBA D-League’s youngest dance team coach

Denver Nuggets Dancer Brings Athleticism to the Arena

By Aaron J. Lopez
Nuggets.com

NBA dancers spend countless hours in the gym and perform difficult physical routines with impeccable timing.

The demands are more pronounced at Pepsi Center, where the Denver Nuggets Dancers must execute their routines at 5,280 feet and then return to the court a few minutes later looking as though they just took a leisurely stroll along the beach.

It raises the question: Are dancers athletes?

In the case of rookie Denver Nuggets Dancer Ashlee, the answer is an unequivocal yes.

Her dad ran track and cross-country at New Mexico State University, her brother played football at the University of New Mexico and her sister ran cross-country for the Lobos.

As for the 22-year-old Ashlee, she has spent about half her life on the basketball court, the softball field, the volleyball court and the ski slopes. In her youth, she also dabbled in golf, gymnastics, swimming and racquetball.

“It’s a long list,” she said. “My parents were both very athletic, so they put us in sports at an early age.”

Despite standing just 5-foot-1, Ashlee has a vertical leap that enabled her to play the front row for her high school volleyball team, and she takes pride in the fact that she once dunked a basketball on an 8-foot rim. The skills transfer to her craft as a dancer.

“Being so athletic has helped with dance a lot,” she said. “My legs are superstrong from playing all those sports. In dance, that really helps me a lot.”

Ashlee grew up in Albuquerque but always wanted to live in Denver after visiting the city when she was about 11 years old. After spending three years dancing for the New Mexico Thunderbirds of the NBA Development League, she joined the Colorado Mammoth dance team – the Wild Bunch – for the 2011 National Lacrosse League season.

When the Nuggets held dance auditions in the summer, Ashlee made a smooth transition from the artificial turf back to the hardwood.

“Ashlee’s extensive dance and performance background were apparent throughout her season with the Wild Bunch and at the Nuggets Dancers auditions this summer,” Denver Nuggets Dancers coordinator and choreographer Amy Jo Wagner said. “She is very comfortable in front of a crowd and handling the rigorous schedule of the DND, which made her an excellent rookie candidate for the team.”

Ashlee’s professional success as a dancer was hardly foreshadowed when she joined the Duke City Stars studio in Albuquerque. As a gangly 10-year-old, she started later than most accomplished dancers and her own instructor was skeptical about her prospects.

“I was horrible,” Ashlee said. “My coach tells everyone, ‘If Ashlee can dance, anyone can,’ because I was so bad.”

Ashlee eventually found her rhythm and juggled a full schedule of school, sports and dance all the way through her high school graduation. She enrolled at the University of New Mexico and is currently taking on-line classes as she works toward a degree in communications.

Ashlee would like to attend nursing school, which is fitting considering the aches and pains she has endured as a result of her active lifestyle.

The injuries include multiple sprained ankles, a hyperextended, dislocated and broken right elbow, a separated left shoulder, sprained AC joints in both shoulders, wrist surgery and a torn calf muscle.

Talented and athletic, Ashlee has persevered through it all to reach her goal of becoming a Denver Nuggets Dancer.

The hardest part might be staying healthy enough to prove to everyone that dancers are indeed athletes.

2011-2012 High Voltage Dance Team Tryout Information

The Iowa Energy High Voltage Dance Team is looking for fun, outgoing and classy young ladies to perform at all 24 regular season home games and attend numerous community events throughout the season. We recommend previous experience in jazz and hip-hop dance styles. You will be judged on dance technique and style, showmanship, personality, attitude and physical fitness. All dancers must be at least 18 years of age at the time of auditions, and must be a high school graduate.

When: Tuesday, September 13th 7:30-10pm
OR
Sunday, September 18th 11am-1pm

**These are two separate 1-day tryouts. Final team selections will be made following the Sunday tryout.**

Where: Aspen Athletic Club
10930 Hickman Road
Des Moines, IA 50325

Cost: $10 if pre-registered by Friday, September 9th at 5pm
OR
$20 if registered anytime after 5pm on Friday, September 9th OR at door on day of tryout

Notes: Please complete the application package below and return it, along with a recent full-length photo, copy of your driver’s license, and the associated registration fee.

If you have questions please contact Randi Burrell (Director of Game Operations) at 515-564-8554 or rburrell@iowanba.com.

[High Voltage Dance Team]

Texas Legends Dancers Auditions are Sunday, July 24th

[Texas Legends Dancers]