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Posts Tagged ‘Dance’

July 10, 2014

Working with Pistons Entertainment

This summer has definitely been one for transition. After dancing in the NBA since 2007, this is the first time I know I am having to get used to being out of the spotlight and onto the sidelines for games and events.

But you know what? I’m pretty okay with it.

My last paid appearance as a dancer was getting to perform on stage and in concert with Big & Rich!

pistons dancers with big and rich

That’s an amazing way to close out my dancing years if you ask me!

Auditions for this year’s dance team already took place at the end of June, so when the day came and I didn’t attend, I knew my decision to retire was here to stay. Although the feeling is bittersweet, I can honestly say I am ready to move on and am really looking forward to what the next few years look like for me, and us, outside of the NBA.

While I’m not part of the performance crew anymore, I have been spending a lot of my time helping out with the entertainment teams this summer. Specifically a crazy horse mascot named HOOPER.

memorial day parade with HOOPER

(We’re buds.)

I tend to mention HOOPER and working events with the Pistons every now and then and I have a feeling some of you read those blurbs with a cocked head. (She’s doing what?) I guess it’s time to help you out and explain exactly what that job entails.

During the NBA season, you can find our entertainment teams on and off the court in community and sponsored events throughout the state, country and even world!

Remember our trip to Paris? I was fortunate enough to be hired as Scott’s assistant as he helped coordinate and oversee the mascot entertainment for the Paris All-Star Game!

all star game paris 2013 on court

While the basketball games stop in April (or June, if you’re lucky enough to go all the way to the NBA Finals) the off-season proves to stay active with events and performances throughout the summer. This one in particular hasn’t slowed down a bit!

Currently, my main job outside of blogging is being HOOPER’s assistant. Whenever he has a scheduled appearance or performance, there I am. That will probably change once the season starts, or if I get a job in the fitness industry (<- I miss teaching group fitness so much!), but for now, that’s what pays my part of the bills.

I came into this unique position through Scott. He is a Director of Pistons Entertainment, the manager and coach/performer with the Flight Crew (oh hey, SkyKing!) and works very closely with all of the entertainment teams.

Even this furry one!

hanging with HOOPER

As HOOPER’s assistant, I get to work a lot of the same events Scott is already on which is great for carpooling. ;)

Basically, my job is to follow him everywhere, hand him props from his ridiculous bag of tricks, keep the rowdy kids that try to bully him away, and be his voice. (Mascots don’t speak!)

I’ve only run into a few instances where having a small girl as his assistant hasn’t worked out very well. Lucky for me, those times people tried to gang up on him, I had reinforcement around to yell and enforce the “no touching” rule. People are crazy, I tell you!

Anyways, hanging with HOOP is never boring, and always keeps me entertained and on my toes.

Yesterday, I was hired to help with Metro Detroit Youth Day at Belle Isle. The Pistons and Sprite came together to donate a full sized basketball court to the park and last year I worked the same event as a dancer, when the court officially opened.

On the schedule was a couple of dunk shows, appearances from players and former Pistons legends, and a performance from the Pistons Hip Hop dance team, D-Town.

My specific job is to stay with HOOPER, who happened to be dunking with the boys in one of their shows. Check it out!

Bub dunking with Flight Crew

Flight Crew dunk show

Flight Crew dunk

Even HOOP’s got some ups!

HOOPER dunking with Flight Crew

I’m trying not to be biased when I say that the Pistons have one of the best sports entertainment dunk teams in the league. They truly blow my mind with the things they come up with and accomplish, and were even featured on America’s Got Talent in 2012!

Just in case you’re wondering, the guy speaking in the clip is the former coach of the crew and is also a close friend of Scott’s. Essentially, we moved up here for Scott to fill his shoes!

They’re incredible to watch and it’s always fun to see the new tricks and shows they put together.

After their first dunk show, I spent the next thirty minutes or so roaming the crowd and helping people take pictures with HOOPER. Next, it was time for autographs and meet and greets.

Pistons Flight Crew signing autographs

While the Flight Crew put on another dunk show, HOOPER and I made our rounds through the field and pulled all sorts of shenanigans.

HOOPER acting silly

Or, at least he did.

When we got back to the court, we found D-town free-styling, which is never out of the ordinary.

It always amazes me how they can just come up with whatever to showcase on the fly. D-town and even random spectators like this guy!

D-town dancing with youth

While the Dancers (<- hey look, I’m still up there!) or other entertainment teams like Cheer Team, Drumline, and the Mob Squad (junior dancers) weren’t at this event, I think the three teams held down the Pistons Entertainment name very well!

D-town Hip Hop Dance Team

Not all events are like this, but most of them are. Occasionally we are brought in for school shows, camps, and community events, but most of our work is sponsored Pistons events like this one.

Whatever the case, I usually come home with some interesting memories and usually a smile!

On average, I work between two to three events a week during the summer, but that is always changing. Some weeks go by without any, but a couple of weeks ago I worked six! It all depends on what is going on, and what they need help with.

So I guess when I mention “I was working an event” you now have somewhat of an idea of what I’m talking about.

***

Have a great rest of your Thursday!

I’ll see you back in the morning with Friday Favorites!

July 7, 2014

Hit The Floor: How Close Is It to an NBA Dancer’s Reality?

I’ve been wanting to write about this subject for a while now. Do any of you watch the VH1 television series Hit The Floor?

Currently, it’s in the middle of the second season and is a scripted series that follows the drama behind “the hottest pro basketball team”, known as the Los Angeles Devil Girls.

As someone who just finished six years of dancing in the NBA, I was obviously intrigued by this show and wanted to share my thoughts on how true or untrue they make the job appear to be.

Hit The Floor tv show

source

When I first heard about it, I was stoked! I was hoping that the stories and behind-the-scenes look of what an NBA dancer’s job entails would finally be showcased for the world to see.

I have come to the conclusion that this series does a great job of including technical dance and drama, but overall, gives an unrealistic look into what really goes on.

At first, I was very much on board with the show and loved how they made it look hard to get on a team, earn, and keep your spot on it. As episodes went on, however, I realized that the plot is more about portraying scandal than a believable storyline.

Do I still watch it? Sure. I don’t beat myself up for missing an episode, but I can’t get enough of the routines, costumes, and curiosity of what’s going on when I do catch one.

If you’re still wondering what I think does and doesn’t do a good job of sharing the truth, here’s a list to help break it down!

What’s True… and Not-So About Hit The Floor

hit the floor group

source

• Difficult audition process.

The most tedious dance team audition award has to go to the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, and you can watch first-hand all about that experience thanks to another (actual) reality show on CMT.

Somewhere between that and a college dance team audition lies NBA Dance Team tryouts, which usually involves at least one to two main days of preliminary auditions, and then at least a week long boot camp before announcing a squad or holding a final audition.

I didn’t blog while going through auditions in Orlando, but shared my first couple of days auditioning for Detroit’s team last year.

Detroit Pistons Vets at auditions 2013

I never finished that series, but I can tell you that every team’s process is similar in most areas, but different in others. None are easy or something you can just walk onto without serious dance training and preparation.

• Cliques and cattiness.

Actually, I have to agree with this one… to an extent.

Four out of my six years of dancing, I was lucky enough to avoid drama. My team was very close, and I still to this day call more than a handful of teammates genuine friends I miss seeing on a daily basis.

Two seasons, however, were absolutely filled with drama. Stories and quotes you wouldn’t even believe. While I don’t condone the way Jelena (the main captain) treats Ahsha (a rookie), that type of bullying definitely happens and I’m glad they capture it.

jelena and ahsha hit the floor

source

Sometimes dealing with teammates can be more stressful than making the team in the first place!

• Constant elaborate performances.

I realize NBA Dance teams are hired to appear and perform in a number of sponsored and community events, but The Devil Girls seem to only perform elaborately themed out, dramatic routines outside of the arena.

hit the floor water performance

source

Hit-The-Floor performance

source

Every once in a while might be believable, but for the most part this is what you can expect to see at an NBA sponsored event… maybe even with less leg showing.

Hit the Floor performance outside

source

(Sorry if I just bursted your bubble about what a pool party appearance could turn into!)

• Hanging around the arena.

I believe the main character, Ahsha met her future love interest (Derek, a Devil’s player) for the first time just hanging around the arena.

Literally, he was just sitting outside by himself with his shirt off.

hit the floor outside arena

source

Players hardly even show up to the arena, unless they are there for a closed practice, to play in a game, or attend an event. As far as I know, the majority of pro basketball teams (if not all of them) have practice facilities off-site, or at least away from the main arena court.

The chances of a dancer and a player just “running into each other” just outside the arena are really slim to none.

• Hair and makeup is always done. Even at the gym.

Going off of the picture above, check out how Ahsha just so happens to be in full hair and makeup for her run outside the arena.

I have actually heard stories from dancers on other NBA dance teams saying they were required to wear full makeup and their hair down for every practice. I’m sorry, but that’s just ridiculous. You’re there to practice and even at the off chance someone recognizes you as a dancer going to or from the facility, the job doesn’t pay well enough to require that kind of 24/7 upkeep.

Making sure your hair is free of roots, your eyebrows are trimmed, your nails look decent and your tan is present is hard enough for games and appearances!

ready for NBA dancer auditions 2

During auditions and Boot Camp week, I always wore my hair down and at least appearance makeup, but I was so thankful for that ending after the new team was announced.

Once you make the team, the need to impress and constantly look your best at ALL times quickly dissolves.

• Invites and black tie attire for charity events.

As a dancer for six seasons, I was invited to attend a black tie event, dressed in a ball gown… once. And that was because I came as Scott’s date, not because I was a dancer.

It seems as though the ladies of Hit The Floor get to attend the best events in town, always dressed in to the tee in ball gowns.

hit the floor ball gowns

source

This picture, however, highlights Jelena (left) and Kyle (right) wearing the same dress. Because, once again, they performed an extremely themed out routine while wearing them in a routine that involved a fountain.

• Lights out and two minute routines.

I have to admit that I do really enjoy the routines the series features. They are extremely creative, visual, and well-choreographed!

What bugs me is that every time they perform at a game, the lights are out and the crowd is screaming for them. Loudly, and throughout the entire performance. Here’s an example!

The only way you can have the lights out for routines during a regular NBA game is if it is during the intros, halftime, or an extremely long sponsored time out.

Regular time outs for games are anywhere from 1:30 to 2 minutes long, depending on if they are during a called time out or at a quarter break. More than likely, it would take too long to wait on the lights to go off and on and there wouldn’t be enough time for a full routine.

Not to mention, their routines (although amazing) are well over the 1:15 cut-off. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but to me it’s just irritating.

• Dancers are always around the players. And that’s okay.

I believe the first episode that went through auditions even included a couple of players who stopped in to watch, in full uniforms nonetheless.

Players wouldn’t be anywhere near a dancer audition, and if they were I doubt they could just sit and observe. Or better yet, talk to the girls auditioning.

Not only are they always intermingling on and off the court, but throughout the series there are a couple of highlighted and very public dancer-player relationships.

Jelena and her boyfriend kiss

source

In what world would that be okay?

Both teams that I have danced for do not mess around with this type of thing, and I’ve personally seen fellow dancers immediately let go for even publicly socializing with players.

• Dancers hang out after events with high-profile season ticket holders.

The same goes for the girls hanging with high-profile season ticket holders and team sponsors.

During the series, they are shown hanging out at events after they’ve worked them in full cocktail attire, drinking liquor, and flirting with anyone who matters in their arena.

While it’s a nice gesture for anyone hiring for an event to even offer food, I was trained not to accept eating or drinking anything in costume. Water is fine, but definitely never alcohol.

So, would I recommend watching the show?

Hit the Floor GIF

source

Sure.

If you record it, skip the drama, and go to the dance sections.

;)

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I am not a registered dietician, nutritionist, or certified fitness professional. The workouts I post are what work best for me, but might not be the right type of exercises for you.



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