Monday, July 09, 2007

Mavs dancer is an All-Star, too 

Posted by Sasha at 4:58 PM ET

By Bill Velasco

The Philippine Star: NBA Madness has brought five Dallas Mavericks Dancers their first trip out of the US. They will be performing on Saturday and on Sunday at the Mall of Asia, as part of the annual extravaganza that also featured NBA All-Star Jerry Stackhouse.They will be a major part of this weekend’s celebration, amidst the various contests and performances.

In an interview with two of the Mavs dancers, this writer learned how tough it is to actually stay in the line-up. Unlike players who have multi-year guaranteed contracts, the dancers who pump up the home crowd have to fight for their slots every year, no matter how long they’ve been with the team.

“It really keeps you on your toes and in shape,” admits Lindsay Shoulders, who is on her third year with the Mavs. “We’re a very broad group. Some of the girls are only 18, while some of them are already moms.”

Her teammate, Mallory Mills, is a four-year veteran, and was the only Mavs dancer on the first-ever selection of dancers put together for the NBA All-Star game in Las Vegas. Only the best dancers from most of the teams made the trip.

“It was amazing, since we don’t go on the road with the team and never get to see the other dancers,” says Mills, a three-time national solo dance champion in the US. “But our dance styles are all so different,” she laughs. “It was fun, though. We had a really great choreographer.”

Each team’s dance team is different, and adjusts according to their audience. The Mavs dancers have about 20 to 25 routines at the start of the season, most of them one minute long so as to fit into timeouts. For the Mavs, some country music finds its way into their routines.

“We also play some oldies but goodies,” adds Shoulders, who favors hip-hop music herself. “The fans recognize these songs and are able to dance to them.”

The girls work out individually, but have regular training with a very tough coach who was once a Mavs and LA Clippers dancer herself, Shella Sattler. She has performed with MC Hammer, Run DMC and Snap, and once won a national television dance team contest on Star Search.

When asked if they get heckled by fans of the visiting teams, the girls say that it’s rarely a problem, since the fans always protect them and let the visitors know that nonsense won’t be tolerated.

All in all, there are 25 dancers (with tryouts still being held until August) who perform various functions. Ten of them appear at the games, other do charity work, appear on television programs, promote their team, and do other work with the community. For NBA Madness, they will also be signing autographs and giving photo opportunities to lucky fans.

“We have such great fans, we love giving back to the community,” Mills continues. “It’s such a great experience for us.”

Though they’re adjusting to the heat in Metro Manila, the dancers say that it’s humid in Dallas, too, so it’s not that big a deal. They planed in Wednesday night, and started making personal appearances Thursday morning. They have set routines ready for the fans and participants at this year’s NBA Madness.

And there are bad days, too, like when the Mavs were eliminated from the playoffs early last season.

“We found ourselves crying, too,” Mills adds with a pause. “Then after a while we tell each other, ‘One more year!’ We believe so much in our team, and we’ve been winning for so long, it’s been a lot of fun.”

And they’re hoping to infect Filipino fans with their love for the game.

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