Toronto Raptors North Side Crew Auditions

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2019/20
TORONTO RAPTORS
NORTH SIDE CREW AUDITIONS

DATE: Saturday, July 20th, 2019
TEAM MANAGER: Amberley Waddell
CHOREOGRAPHER: Shavar Blackwood
LOCATION: Scotiabank Arena, 40 Bay St, Toronto, ON. Enter through Gate 1.
REGISTRATION: 11:00am – Women | 2:30pm – Men | 5:00pm – Final Callbacks

 

**Choreography will begin promptly.**
BE PREPARED TO STAY AS LONG AS NECESSARY.

What We’re Looking For

  • Female and Male Dancers – 18 and older
  • Skilled dancers with dynamic personalities and strong individual styles.
  • Dancers of all training backgrounds who are versatile and able to learn choreography.
  • There is no minimum or maximum height requirement.
  • You must also provide a resume and current non-returnable 5×7 or 8×10 headshot.

What To Expect

Dancers will be taught a basic Hip Hop/Jazz Funk routine. All participants will be asked to perform the routine in small groups. Dancers who advance will be asked to perform 4-6 eight counts of freestyle choreography highlighting strengths and specialties. Music will be provided. The audition is closed, spectators will not be permitted.

What To Wear

  • Arrive camera ready! Dance Attire that shows off your personal style
  • Participants may wear any kind of sneaker/dance shoe with non-marking soles

Judging

Judges will focus on dance ability, enthusiasm, energy, personality and showmanship.

Commitment Information

  • Mandatory team rehearsals – Mondays and Wednesdays 7:30-10:00pm
  • August through April (or until end of playoffs)
  • Mandatory team meeting
  • Pre-Season games – October
  • 41+ Regular Season Home Games – October to April. Schedule is available in August
  • Public appearances and events

Pre-register by emailing your headshot and resume to amberley.waddell@mlse.com

Toronto Raptors Dance Team Auditions

2018/19 TORONTO RAPTORS DANCE TEAM AUDITIONS

DATE: Sunday, July 8th, 2018
CHOREOGRAPHER: Amberley Waddell
EMAIL: Amberley.Waddell@mlse.com
LOCATION: Air Canada Centre, 40 Bay St, Toronto, ON. Enter through Gate 1.
REGISTRATION: 10:30am – Women | 2:00pm – Men | 4:00pm – Final Callbacks

BE PREPARED TO STAY AS LONG AS NECESSARY.
 

What We’re Looking For

  • Female and Male Dancers – 18 and older
  • Skilled dancers with dynamic personalities and strong individual styles.
  • Dancers of all training backgrounds who are versatile and able to learn choreography.
  • There is no minimum or maximum height requirement.
  • You must also provide a resume and current non-returnable 5×7 or 8×10 headshot.

What To Expect

Dancers will be taught a basic Hip Hop/Jazz Funk routine. All participants will be asked to perform the routine in small groups. Dancers who advance will be asked to perform 4-6 eight counts of freestyle choreography highlighting strengths and specialties. Music will be provided. The audition is closed, spectators will not be permitted.

What To Wear

  • Arrive camera ready! Dance Attire that shows off your personal style
  • Participants may wear any kind of sneaker/dance shoe with non-marking soles

Commitment Information

  • Mandatory team rehearsals – Mondays and Wednesdays 7:30-10:00pm
  • August through April (or until end of playoffs)
  • Mandatory team meeting
  • Pre-Season games – October
  • 41+ Regular Season Home Games – October to April. Schedule is available in August
  • Public appearances and events

Judging

Judges will focus on dance ability, enthusiasm, energy, personality and showmanship.

Pre-register by emailing your headshot and resume to Amberley.Waddell@mlse.com
 

Toronto Raptors Dance Pak Auditions – July 9

2017/18 RAPTORS DANCE PAK AUDITIONS

DATE: Sunday, July 9th, 2017
CHOREOGRAPHER: Amberley Waddell
EMAIL: awaddell@torontoraptors.com
LOCATION: Air Canada Centre, 40 Bay St, Toronto, ON. Enter through Gate 1.
REGISTRATION: 10:00am. Auditions begin at 11:00am

 
BE PREPARED TO STAY AS LONG AS NECESSARY.
 

What We’re Looking For

  • Female Dancers – 18 and older (must be 18 by the day of the audition). We strongly encourage ages 22-30 to come out and audition!
  • Dancers must have the ability to show an extreme level of enthusiasm, confidence and poise.
  • Dancers must be physically fit and have strong athletic skills and endurance.
  • Dancers must be dedicated, professional, hard working and strong team players.
  • Minimum 2 years dance/performance experience in Hip Hop or Jazz.
  • 22 team members.
  • There is no minimum or maximum height requirement.
  • You must also provide a resume and a current non-returnable 5×7 or 8×10 headshot.
What To Expect
  • Dancers will be taught a basic hip hop routine combined with jazz.
  • All participants who advance will be asked to perform the routine in small groups.
  • A number of cuts will be made throughout the audition.
  • All participants who advance will be asked to perform 4-6 eight counts of their own choreography highlighting strengths and specialties.
  • Music will be provided.
  • The audition is closed, spectators will not be permitted.
What To Wear
  • An attractive two-piece dance outfit (Half top and fitted shorts. Any style and colour)
  • Mid-area, legs and arms must be exposed.
  • No baggy clothing or street wear. No pants, leggings, capris or cover ups.
  • Full performance make-up and hair styled. Hair must be down, no ponytails.
  • Participants may wear any kind of sneaker/dance shoe, please make sure they have non-marking soles.
Commitment Information
  • Mandatory team rehearsals – Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 7:30-10:00pm
  • August through April (or until end of playoffs)
  • Mandatory team meeting
  • Pre-Season games – October
  • 41+ Regular Season Home Games – November to April. Schedule is available in August
  • Public appearances and events
Judging

Judges will focus on enthusiasm, energy, dance ability, personal appearance, personality, poise and showmanship.

 
Pre-register by emailing your headshot and resume to awaddell@torontoraptors.com
 

High-voltage Entertainment with the Raptors Dance Pak

By Deirdre Kelly
The Globe and Mail

Onto the brightly lit basketball court the 22 members of the Raptors Dance Pak shimmy into formation, shaking their miniskirts for 20,000 screaming fans crammed inside Toronto’s Air Canada Centre.

It’s early November, just three weeks into the season, and the home team is trying to bounce back from a two-game losing streak. After three quarters, the New York Knicks are proving an even match for the Raptors and the dancers are moving fast to hype up the crowd.

pak3

An NBA basketball game is the funhouse of the modern sporting world: For every stoppage in play, there’s a prize giveaway or a call for the crowd to get LOUD. The DJ fills nearly every silence with booming rock and hip hop. The Dance Pak is the pulsating human embodiment of that choreographed chaos.
The dancers’ two-minute bursts of dancing are the equivalent of an 800-metre run, done with a smile that belies the fitness, talent and dedication required to earn a coveted spot on the squad. (Photos by Mark Blinch for The Globe and Mail)

The dancers’ two-minute bursts of dancing are the equivalent of an 800-metre run, done with a smile that belies the fitness, talent and dedication required to earn a coveted spot on the squad. “We are a key element of the in-game entertainment and so all our performances need to be full of energy,” choreographer Amberley Waddell explains.

A Waterloo, Ont., native, Ms. Waddell started with the Dance Pak at 19. She learned first-hand that for dance to succeed on a 94-by-50-foot basketball court, it needs to be big, bold and bootilicious. No pom-poms, though, just bump-and-grind hip hop and big-kicks jazz dance.

New York choreographer Texie Waterman is credited with having created sports-stadium dance when he was recruited to generate explosive on-field routines for the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders in the 1970s. Ms. Waddell has taken that style and modernized it: The introduction of lunges and squats and the heightened emphasis on muscularity are moves she learned while performing with Beyoncé and Gladys Knight in Los Angeles, and Bette Midler in Las Vegas. Her 40 routines also focus on the little details, such as hand claps over the head, finger snaps and flicks of the wrist and hair.

Since auditions in July, the dancers have been meeting three times a week to prepare for 41 game performances.

pak2

Each routine is drilled into the pack in a downtown Toronto gym lined with mirrors that grow steamy during the three-hour practices. The dancers have been meeting there thrice weekly since passing the audition in July. Throughout the season (which runs from late October to mid-April – and that doesn’t include a playoff run), they will clock between 45 and 50 three-hour rehearsals to prepare for at least 41 game performances plus community appearances – this year, there is even a game in London. The sessions start with a 30-minute warm-up that includes planks, push-ups and ab-crunching sit-ups by the hundreds. The rest is given over to cardio training and figuring out how to dance in the round, a challenge to dancers used to facing front and trained to watch themselves in a mirror.

The talent needed to be a part of the Dance Pak isn’t lost on Kenny Pearl, a former dancer with the famed Alvin Ailey and Martha Graham dance companies who was artistic director of Toronto Dance Theatre in the 1980s. Now a senior dance faculty member at Ryerson University, Mr. Pearl has had several Dance Pak members in his classes. “Their bodies can take a beating with the short, high-voltage bursts of energy required of them,” he observes. That they can recover so quickly is another reason Mr. Pearl admires their work.

“I see the Dance Pak as a group of smart, talented, beautiful and powerful women,” says Tamara, a 23-year-old rookie, of why she desperately wanted to join. (Dance Pak members do not disclose their surnames so as to keep overzealous fans at bay.) She is a former competitive dancer who runs her own photography studio. “It is very empowering.”

Even off the court the dancers are tossing giveaways or clapping from the sidelines.

It is also highly remunerative, an attractive prospect for dancers who often make much less in their industry. The Dance Pak are employees of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, the company that manages the Raptors and the Toronto Maple Leafs, and are prohibited from disclosing their salaries. But “it’s one of the best and most rewarding dance contracts in the city,” says Kalina, an office worker by day who teaches at a dance studio on nights when not performing.

This season, there were 250 applicants and fewer than two dozen made the final cut. Even dancers from last season must reaudition.

“There’s so much talent present,” says Monique, a first-year member who trained as a ballerina. “You have this one opportunity to put it all on the floor for the judges to see or else that’s it, you’re cut.”

pak1

For this 24-year-old, the payoff is maintaining a strong connection to dance while engaged in other pursuits such as, say, pre-med studies at the University of Toronto, where Monique is doing a master’s degree in neuroscience.

Game days – usually a 7:30 p.m. start time – mean a 3:30 on-court rehearsal to work out line formations, which are especially important for crowds watching performances from the upper tiers of the ACC. Next, the dancers proceed to the dressing room to do hair and makeup. Then, it’s showtime.

There are 22 members in the group, who all auditioned from a field of 250 applicants. Even returning dancers must reaudition each season.

The dancers are on even when they are off the court: running into the stands, tossing giveaways, clapping from the sidelines when the ball is in play. Which is what they are doing right now. The Knicks are leading the Raptors by only a few points as the game enters its final minutes. Tensions in the arena run high. The dancers watch nervously on the edges.

They have divided themselves into two squads of 11 dancers in adjacent corridors leading to team dressing rooms. They clap rhythmically, and enthusiastically, urging the crowd to stand and clap along.

If the Raptors can overcome the deficit, the dancers will rush back onto the court to do a victory dance. But in the final seconds, the Knicks hit a succession of free throws and hang on to defeat the Raptors 111-109.

The crowd shuffles home disappointed. The team will regroup. The Dance Pak will strut their stuff at other games.

[Toronto Raptors Dance Pak]

Raptors hold Dance Pak auditions

Veronica Henri
Toronto Sun
July 12, 2014

In fluorescent tube tops, bras and mini-shorts, talented dancers twisted and turned to the beat of Beyonce’s “Grown Woman.”

Two hundred Toronto Raptors Dance Pak hopefuls took to the practice court at Air Canada Centre on Saturday for auditions in front of judges Amberley Waddell, Anton Wright and Steve Benetti,.

The competitors, aged 18-30, gathered nervously in the hallway awaiting their turn — stretching, applying last minute makeup, sipping water and munching on high-protein snacks.

[Photo Gallery]

Jennifer Thiessen, 28, who was voted Miss CHIN, 2014 and is a professional cheerleader for the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, an Australian rugby team, smiled and moved in sync to every beat in front of the judges as she tried out for the first time.

“My husband got me to move to Canada by showing me a Toronto Raptors Dance Pak video,” Thiessen said, adding she prepared by taking a dance classes and doing fitness training. She plans to try again if she doesn’t make it this time.

She’s not the only one with dreams of joining the Pak

Jenna Gowland, 20, has attended Raptors games since she was 11 years old, always eyeing the Dance Pak, making that her goal.

“They were so feminine and strong,” Gowland said. “I wanted to become one of them so badly, so I took dance classes, stayed fit and just danced trying to create my own style”

Thiessen and Gowland said they met amazing girls with healthy and positive attitudes and found the experience very “upbeat.” Judge and head choreographer Waddell said she’s looking for “energy and personality” and chooses carefully.

“The girl will be an ambassador of the Raptors organization so the dance team is looking for the total package,” she said. “A well spoken girl with looks, talent and personality.”

The Raptors pick 20 Dance Pak members each year. Dancers from previous years must also audition.