Tuesday, June 26, 2007

ProDance: Meet the Woman Behind the Event (part 1) 

Posted by Sasha at 9:44 AM ET

Yesterday, I told you a little bit about ProDance. Now I’d like you to meet the woman who made it all happen. ProDance founder/CEO/Chief Chick in Charge Rosalyn Jones was kind enough to answer my many many many questions. Today we give you the first half of the interview so you can learn a bit more about Rosalyn herself. As you will soon see, this talented lady is more than little passionate about her work!

PCB: Tell me a little about yourself. Where did you grow up and what part of the country do you live in now?
    Rosalyn: I was born in Riverside, California. My father was in the Air Force so my family moved around quite a bit. It was a great and adventurous life. I currently reside in San Antonio, Texas.

PCB: And what is your dance background? Did you take dance lessons as a child or perform with a dance team in school?
    Rosalyn: As a child, I took all sorts of classes. I studied ballet, tap, jazz, modern, acrobatics, baton twirling, piano, etc. I love to express myself artistically. In middle school, I became interested in cheerleading! It was very athletic and appealed to me. I cheered in high school and college and was an instructor for the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) for many years.

PCB: Did you ever dance professionally, or for a pro sports team?
    Rosalyn: When I was a freshman in college at the University of Houston, I danced with a modern dance company. I absolutely loved it! At the same time, the San Antonio Spurs had started a dance team called Quicksilver. Since I was away at school and wanted to focus on my studies, I didn't audition. The team only lasted for about 6 months before they were pulled.

PCB: Many girls take dance lessons when they’re little but give it up as they get older. What made you stick with it?
    Rosalyn: I just have a passion for dance and choreography. It's amazing to me that movement can evoke so many sensations/emotions. I love to analyze movement, looking at it from almost a scientific approach. If you think about it, it involves physics, geometry, chemistry, etc. I also enjoy the fact that God has blessed choreographers with such incredible creativity and talent. To take a combination of movements, out of the billions that are possible, and combine them into a piece that is just right for a particular song is simply genius to me!

PCB: ProDance is a great opportunity to get together with fellow choreographers in your field. Who do you look forward to working with each year?
    Rosalyn: I allow myself to be humbled by great choreographers like John Peters, Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo, Brian Friedman, Tina Landon, Mina and Marina Ortega, and SO many others who I've had the privilege of working with through ProDance! Their ideas stimulate me to greater choreographic creativity! As a choreographer, you must CONSTANTLY be open to new ideas. You can't allow yourself to become complacent, stagnated and isolated. NO ONE KNOWS IT ALL!! You have to GET OUT THERE and stay up with trends and new directions in dance.

    Anne Walman said, "I'm the girl with the unquenchable thirst". I'm so much that girl! I thirst for knowledge. As a dancer/choreographer, it's the only way to be IF you want to continue to evolve.

PCB: So you are always seeking to learn and grow. Is that how you wound up creating the San Antonio Spurs dance team, the Silver Dancers?
    Rosalyn: This is an interesting story. Almost 10 years had passed since the Spurs had a dance team. I wrote them a letter saying that I thought they needed to resurrect the team and was confident I was the person who could bring longevity and excitement to the team. They responded with a letter saying they weren't interested.

    One year later, I booked a group of cheerleaders from my studio to perform at a half time show for the Spurs. Unbeknownst to the Spurs, I had also put together a group of friends and former students--ages 18-30--who also would perform a routine at the game. My mindset was, "we're going to go out there and make a statement"!!! I designed a HOT silver and black outfit and choreographed an absolutely show-stopping routine--sort of a dance/cheer/gymnastics montage. The crowd went CRAZY!!

    After the performance, I was introduced to the president of the franchise. Two days later, I received a phone call saying they were interested in talking with me about developing a dance team. I was hired and spent an AMAZING 11 years creating and directing the San Antonio Spurs Silver Dancers! I was blessed to work with so many amazing women who were truly committed to being the BEST!!!

PCB: During the time you were their Director, was there much opportunity to interact with other team directors and choreographers in the field? Is that where the idea for ProDance came from?
    Rosalyn: The concept of ProDance came about during the early years of my time with the Spurs. I wanted my team to be the best in the NBA! I sought out choreography by traveling to L.A. and New York. The Spurs did not pay for these trips.

    What I came to find out was I was not getting the choreography that I needed. I also discovered that there was no networking system in place with other directors in the NBA. There was absolutely no synergy. I just felt that we had to share similar experiences, concerns, problems, challenges, etc. Why wasn't there something in place that could offer specific assistance to me and other directors?

    I knew someone had to STEP UP! Why not me??!!! I began to think about it on a deeper level and came to the conclusion that there was no kind of camp/conference/convention/training center/RESOURCE for professional sports dancers PERIOD!!!

    I sat on the idea for about 8 years before I put my thoughts into action. I even made a trip to New York and spoke with the NBA about it. They said the idea had been tried before but wasn't successful. I told them that I would succeed because I wanted to make a difference and take professional sports dancing to even higher levels! I wanted to follow through and do my dream!

PCB: You’ve said in other interviews that when you were a director, you attended various dance camps and workshops but they weren’t quite the right fit for you. All of those events focused more on collegiate level dance teams rather than pro teams. What was the main thing you were looking for, but couldn’t find?
    Rosalyn: I was looking for material that would be suited for professional sports entertainment! Choreography that would look great on a court. Choreography that would appeal to professional sports fans. Choreography that could be executed with power by dancers who were mature, athletic, and highly skilled.

To be continued tomorrow...

Tsk tsk – you didn’t think I’d give it all away at once, did you? Come back tomorrow for part 2 of the interview. You’ll learn all about how ProDance came to be and what to expect this year. In the meantime, feel free to visit the ProDance website and/or blog for more information!

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