Sunday, August 05, 2007

Memphis Grizzlies: Veteran advice for Dance Team tryouts 

Posted by Sasha at 3:13 PM ET

Memphis Grizzlies: As a four-year member of the Grizzlies Dance Team, Linea knows what the tryout process is like for first-timers. She spoke to grizzlies.com about her experiences at previous tryouts, as well as what it’s like to be a member of the dance team.

What advice would give to someone thinking of trying out for the Dance Team?

Linea: The best thing to do would be to go to the prep classes. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been dancing or how much experience you have, it’s helpful to see the style of the choreographer and just see what they’re looking for, and you can tell that from the class.

What were past tryouts like?

Linea: In the past, we had to learn a combination across the floor in the first round. It wasn't too difficult or too long. Then they made a first cut out of that. Then you'd learn a pretty long combination, around a minute and a half long, and you'd perform that in groups… Then from that they would make another cut. In previous years we’ve had to do a freestyle section as well if they still hadn’t made up their mind by that point on who they want. They’d put on some music and you get four to six eight-counts to do your own thing.

Do you remember what it was like trying out for the first time?

Linea: I was nervous, definitely. I’ve been dancing since I was very little so I’d been to many, many auditions, but just the fact it is an NBA tryout, it’s a professional tryout, it’s kind of different than a high school or college squad, it’s that next level. Coming from high school or college it’s different because you don’t really know what they’re looking for. The NBA’s a little bit different because it’s the whole package, the way you dance, obviously the way you look has something to do with it. You may have been doing ballet for 20 years, but that may not be what the NBA dancer is.

It’s kind of nerve-wracking because you don’t know what to expect since most people have never been to a professional tryout, especially girls from Memphis because there just isn’t a lot of opportunities to do that around here. That would be the biggest thing, not knowing what to expect. But everyone has always been really friendly, the staff is great, the judges are great, and the veteran girls when I was a newcomer were very helpful in answering any kinds of questions, everyone is very welcoming.

For those who make the team, what is the practice schedule like?

Linea: Usually after tryouts we have a couple of weeks to get situated with no practices. Some people actually come from out of town so they have to relocate here and get settled. So usually we have a couple of weeks of downtime before we actually start practicing. And then in the very first week of practices we do a boot camp, which is usually a weekend and we’ll go from eight in the morning to late afternoon on Saturday and Sunday. We learn several routines that weekend and we get measured for our uniforms. It’s kind of an orientation, we go over rules and regulations and learn a ton of choreography that weekend.

After that we usually practice twice a week depending on the game schedule, and there are games once or twice a week, so it ends up being quite a bit of time that you’re investing. We also do promotional appearances throughout the season and throughout the summer, so it’s definitely a part-time job on its own.

One aspect of being on the team is making community appearances on behalf of the team, something that’s new to a lot of member of the team. What are those like?

Linea: That’s why being an NBA dancer is a little bit different than dancing at a studio or whatever girls have done in the past. Obviously the players on the team cannot go out into the community and represent the team at all times, so you’re kind of an ambassador for the organization. They’re looking for someone who’s well-spoken and someone they can put out in front of school groups or other organizations to represent the team.

What’s your favorite part of being on the team that keeps you coming back every year?

Linea: It’s just exciting, it’s an exciting thing to do. Not everybody is able to do this. Also, the girls on the team are my friends. A lot of them I danced in college with so I’ve known them for six or seven years. It just kind of seems silly not to do it. If you have the opportunity and you’re able to do it, it’s kind of a no-brainer.

Do you still get nervous before a routine?

Linea: I don’t. I don’t know that I’ve ever really been nervous about dancing. At college nationals I was the one girl who was sitting there not freaking out about performing at nationals. So for me, no, but I could see where some of the other girls would get a little bit nervous. Every now and then there’s a celebrity who comes in and sits on the floor, every once in a while that’s a little nerve-wracking. Justin Timberlake’s mom is checking out your dance moves and you’re thinking, “Great, I’m sure I look awesome.”

Anything else you want to add for people still on the fence about trying out?

Linea: I just want to encourage people to come out. You never know. It doesn’t matter how much dance background you have, if you’re talented, you’re talented. It’s not necessarily dependent on (experience). Give it a try, it’s not that scary, you don’t have anything to lose. It’s worth it to come out and try.

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