Wednesday, June 27, 2007

ProDance: Meet the Woman Behind the Event (part 2) 

Posted by Sasha at 5:30 PM ET

Yesterday, you met Rosalyn Jones, the founder and incredibly positive force behind the annual ProDance convention. Now, in part 2 of the interview, Rosalyn tells us how ProDance made the transition from fantasy to fact.

And by the way - did I mention that you can still get the special PCB discount on registration? I'm not fooling. Check out the sidebar.

PCB: Lots of people have good ideas, but lack the drive to make it happen. What was it that made you decide to go for it and transform ProDance from an idea in the back of your head to a real event?
    Rosalyn: I just had an epiphany in the year 2000. It was a new millennium and I just felt it was time for me to set my thoughts in motion.

PCB: Had you had experience planning large events like this? I imagine it would be a bit daunting!
    Rosalyn: Yes - to a certain extent. I really LOVE to plan events/parties/get togethers. I have put together cheerleading competitions, clinics, summer camps, etc. but nothing on the national/international scale of ProDance. Thank God ProDance and I are truly blessed to have the consummate professional event planner on our team---CHERYL LAWSON ROCKS!!!!!!!

PCB: So…how long did it take to put the whole thing together? How did you get the word out?
    Rosalyn: I put together an invitation and sent it out -- simple as that. There was absolutely NO budget for a large marketing or advertising campaign. I just cold-called directors at the different leagues--NBA, NFL, CFL, some collegiate teams, etc., and PASSIONATELY expressed to them that this program was created to benefit them. To offer a way for ALL of us to connect, explore and become better. I got to know the directors, LISTENED to them and found out we shared so many experiences and had similar needs.

PCB: Looking back, is there anything you know now, that you wish you’d known back in 2000?
    Rosalyn: I'm almost thankful that I just DOVE IN and worked hard to make ProDance work. Had I known then what I know now, I might have hesitated...over thought it...come up with reasons why I shouldn't do it. Golda Meir once said, "I can honestly say that I was never affected by the question of the success of an undertaking. If I felt it was the right thing to do, I was for it regardless of the possible outcome". I feel SO strongly about ProDance. I feel it is the right thing to do for all professional sports dancers and their directors. Moreover, I feel ProDance is right for ANY dance enthusiast who wants to expand their knowledge.

    [sidebar: I just want to re-emphasize that last bit. You DO NOT have to be on a team to attend and benefit from this event. If you’re worried about going alone, afraid that you won’t have anyone to talk to, you have nothing to fear in that department. This is a great group of dancers. And hey, you can always come find me. We’ll hang. ~ sasha]

PCB: The first ProDance convention was in San Antonio in 2000, with a small group of talented choreographers and about 4 dozen dancers, mostly representing the NBA. Now fast forward seven years: ProDance has become an annual event, the largest of it’s kind in the country. Last year’s event was attended by over 400 dancers, representing a wide array of pro leagues here in the US and abroad. There are special sessions for team directors, workshops led by an ever-expanding list of the industry’s top choreographers, sponsors who cater specifically to pro sports dance teams, and even scholarship opportunities. You’ve even spun off a separate ProDance camp for collegiate teams. Did you expect any of this?

    I did visualize this, to a certain extent, from the very beginning. I've prayed that I could make a difference for this very hardworking and deserving group of people. Honestly, it's just the tip of the iceberg! There is so much I want to do. So many ways to be a catalyst for others success! That's the main thing. I truly enjoy being of service to others. I want to empower people. To know that I made a difference in someone's life makes all my struggles and challenges worthwhile.

PCB: What are your goals for ProDance this year?
    Rosalyn: I just want each and every person who participates in ProDance to walk away feeling connected, empowered, rejuvenated, and inspired!! I want them to discover something new that excites them! I want them to know that no detail was overlooked to make sure they had an unforgettable experience with us! I want them to know they can ALWAYS expect the very best from ProDance!

PCB: What about long term goals for ProDance? Are you hatching any secret plans?
    Rosalyn: Long term goals??? Stay tuned!! The best is yet to come!!

PCB: Do you feel you’ve accomplished your goal of creating a professional network for directors and dancers in this field? Has ProDance become the annual event you wish you could’ve attended back when you were working for the Spurs?
    Rosalyn: ABSOLUTELY!!!

PCB: What is your involvement with breast cancer research? What motivated you to add this philanthropic aspect to the convention?

    ProDance definitely wants to give back and raise awareness. We chose breast cancer awareness because, honestly, I don't know anyone who has not been affected by this in some capacity. My grandmother had breast cancer. A dear friend had breast cancer. One of my colleagues’ mother had breast cancer.

    At the conclusion of last years' event, we had several attendees get up and speak about their experiences. One of the girls was just a freshman in college. She said she had known she had a lump in her breast for quite some time. Doctors dismissed it because of her age. She was persistent and was finally diagnosed with breast cancer. She fought hard and is in remission and dancing up a storm!!! There was not a dry eye in the place. Her statements impacted all of us.

    Our pink campaign was a catalyst from some really positive things. We had 2 special routines choreographed specifically to bring more awareness to this cause. Many of the teams who attended ProDance, took them back to their respective cities and sponsored special events using the routines! It doesn't get much better than that!

PCB: ProDance used to take place in a different city each year. What made you decide to bring it to Southern California again this year?
    Rosalyn: Oh my goodness...the La Quinta Resort and Club just beckoned us to return for one more year! It's paradise! Perfectly suited for ProDance!

    ProDance will continue to relocate to different cities in the years to come. I want to always create excitement and discovery by moving it to different locations. Each venue allows us to explore new options that will offer our clientele a new experience. I love that people are filled with great anticipation about where we're going to hold it next!

PCB: What is the biggest and best reason to attend ProDance each year?
    Rosalyn: This is one of the beautiful things about ProDance. Ideally, I think it should be viewed as pre-season training for each and every professional sports dance team! There is no better way to kick off your season than with ProDance! We hope EVERY director will see the value of bringing their entire team to the conference. By making each and every member of their team better, it can only serve to enhance their job performance and satisfaction!

PCB: How many representatives does each team send? Can the director attend as well?
    Rosalyn: The most advantageous way to DO ProDance is to bring 10 or more members. This way, each dancer is able to participate in classes taught by each of the 10 brilliant ProDance choreographers. A total of 30 fully-choreographed routines can be had at this event in addition to half-time routines, time-out routines and SO MUCH MORE!!!!!

    Many teams opt to send fewer participants because of budget constraints. They, too, are welcomed with open arms!! The IMPORTANT thing is just to be represented at ProDance! ANY director of any professional sports dance team should literally be running to get to this event!!

PCB: How would you describe the “vibe” at ProDance?
    Rosalyn: It is NON-COMPETITIVE!! ProDance is here SOLELY to equip directors and dancers with the tools that are necessary to be the very best they can be! The camaraderie is AMAZING!! Information and ideas are shared. This only serves to make us all better. We don't ask people to divulge their trade secrets--just to sit down and be open to discussion, facilitate dialogue, etc. We ALL have a similar jobs BUT each of us is in a different market with different looks, expectations, etc. We each bring different levels of experience to the table. Different ideas.

    When you leave ProDance, it's up to YOU, as a dancer or director, to make the ideas presented at ProDance your own! I LOVE that creativity and diversity. You could have one routine taught at ProDance performed in countless ways on countless courts/football fields because NO TWO TEAMS ARE GOING TO APPROACH IT THE SAME WAY!! It's just genius!! That's one thing I want people to embrace.

PCB: It seems like there are new pro and semi-pro teams popping up all over, from major league baseball to professional soccer to new professional football and basketball franchises (ie ABA, AFL, AF2, D-League, etc). What would you tell the directors of these new teams about ProDance? How would their teams benefit from the experience?
    Rosalyn: If I were them, I would get to ProDance SO fast!
    You would almost automatically alleviate most of the challenges and stresses of your job for the season! You would have over 30 incredible routines IMMEDIATELY at your disposal! Imagine that for a minute. Are you kidding me??!! How brilliant is that! The routines are choreographed by some of the most respected and sought-after choreographers in the dance industry!

    You would know where to go to get the hottest apparel! You would know how to conduct junior camps/clinics.

    You would know how to conduct an awesome audition. How to get the most out of your calendar shoot. How to approach your management for a salary increase!

    When you have a question about ANYTHING pertaining to your job, you can just call/email one of your colleagues and feel free to ask them for assistance! Most directors are not threatened by these questions, especially the ones who attend ProDance. They are so willing to offer suggestions based on their experiences. I tell you...it's astounding!

    If I were a new director, I would come to ProDance and just be a complete sponge...soaking up as much information as I could!! Why spend so much time struggling? It's SO not necessary anymore.

PCB: You have great info on ProDance.net. Is there anything else you want people to know about you or about the event?
    Rosalyn: I LOVE inspirational quotes! I want to offer a few that might shed some insight into who I am and what ProDance is all about:

    "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you".

    "Some experiences simply do not translate. You have to go to know".

    "It's what you learn after you know it all that counts".

    "Winners believe in their worth in advance of their performance".

    "Spectacular achievement is always preceded by spectacular preparation".

    "Happy is she who conducts herself honorably".

    "As you go along your road in life, you will, if you aim high enough, also meet resistance...but no matter how tough the opposition may seem, have courage still--and persevere."

    "You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you".

    "I'm not there yet but I'm closer than I was yesterday".

PCB: Those are great! And it’s obvious that you really live these ideals. I know that second one is especially meaningful for you. If everyone who attends ProDance soaks in just a little of that, there will be a lot of amazing people out there. It’s like that old commercial - they’ll tell two friends – and they’ll tell two friends – and so, and so on and so on.

Thanks so much for your time, Rosalyn. After this time with you, I know I am definitely not the only one looking forward to ProDance 2007! Also, special thanks to Cheryl Lawson for coordinating this interview. We’ll see you next month!