Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Behind the Scenes at the Magic Dancers Photo Shoot 

Posted by Sasha at 9:32 PM ET

By Nick Adams
Orlando Magic
September 15, 2007

I am writing this article completely exhausted after spending most of my Saturday at Ken Griffey Jr.’s old mansion with 19 half-naked Orlando Magic Dancers. My job sucks.

Historically, interns do all the jobs their supervisors are unable to perform due to time restrictions. So when my supervisor, Web Services Manager Matt Gardner, approached me about attending the Magic Dancers annual uniform and swimsuit photo shoots, I thought to myself, “Matt must be married.” Matt is happily married with two boys.

On the other hand, I am a 22-year-old single male. Needless to say, I was more than happy to assist him.

I awoke at 9:00 in the morning, applied a little extra hair gel and cologne and headed out around 9:30. I wasn’t supposed to be at Michael Cairns Studio until 11 a.m. However, I have learned if you’re traveling on I-4 for an extended period of time, you need to leave at least half an hour early.

I arrived at the studio at 10 a.m. and was greeted by Chris, a broadcasting intern. We exchanged hardships of our first assignment. The next person I met was Michael Cairns. He was very friendly and joked about what side was his good one.

I turned the corner and felt like I had walked into the bathroom after my sister had just been grooming herself for an hour and a half for her hot date. I lost my breath from the mixed fumes of hair spray, makeup, and perfume. Why are they wearing perfume for a photo shoot? Are they scratch and sniff photos? If so, I’ll take a hundred. Back to the topic.

I was pointed into the direction of Jeanine Klem-Thomas. Jeanine is the Dance Team Manager and a former Magic Dancer. She was just as friendly as Michael with an infectious personality. Jeanine and Michael made a rather intimidating first assignment very comfortable. I decided to interview them first because I knew they would be busy the rest of the day.

Michael had just recently moved into his new studio and was offering his services to the Magic dance team for the ninth straight year.

“The dancers are a lot of fun. How can I not have a great time? It’s like I’m on a island with 20 beautiful women.”

Michael offers promotional photos for actors, models, and local tv stations. Accommodating the dancers is not only a pleasure but a challenge for Michael.

“They give me a challenge because they are constantly coming up with new poses and ideas, keeping the photos fresh and new. However, they do make this job very easy.”

I could relate to that.

After talking to Michael, I approached Jeanine. Jeanine not only brought her great attitude but also provided a wealth of experience. She has been coaching the dance team for the last 10 years and has been a part of the team for the last 13 seasons of Magic basketball. Not to mention, she manages and coordinates STUFF, the Magic Mascot, along with the Dancing Dancer Dads, the Magic Minis and the Magic Silver Stars. She stressed the importance of the photo shoot.

“Today is a very important day because the photos we will shoot today will live with the girls throughout the entire year," Klem-Thomas said. "You will see these photos in every type of medium possible. For example, flyers, brochures, on the web, you name it.”

As I would eventually realize about Jeanine, she always spins things back to positive.

“It is a very long and hectic day, but we love it and will have tons of fun.”

Jeanine then introduced me to her new assistant manager, Cherie LaRosa. Cherie had much of the same qualities as Jeanine and was excited about her first year as assistant.

“Things are going so far, so good. I am really excited about the opportunity to help Jeanine this year.”

Cherie was a member of the team four out of the last five years and informed me of the differences between managing and dancing.

“The pressure of managing as opposed to dancing are different. When you’re dancing, your worries are more about dance routines and staying in shape. In managing, your worries are on helping Jeanine and all the girls.”

Now that my interviews with the coordinators were complete, it was now time to check out, I mean interview, the ladies.

Megan C., Kim M., Deanna, and Shana are the four-year veterans and the first members of the team to sit down and chat with me. Megan C. and Kim M. are the team captains for the second straight season.

I am not going to even attempt to describe the looks of these women. I grew up in Ohio, and the only thing I've seen bred this well is livestock.

Megan, much like myself, felt comfort in Michael and his studio.

“The team and swimsuit photo shoots get easier and easier for me each year because Michael makes you feel right at home and there is a certain trust you have with Michael," Megan said. "Plus we have a great team this year, so there is a lot of trust here which makes everything so much easier.”

Kim M. echoed Megan’s remarks about the photo shoot and their new team members.

“It seems a lot easier this year because once you have been through it and you can prepare for the long day, you know what to expect. Not to mention, we have a great group of girls and there is a ton of chemistry which makes these long days fun.”

Their responsibilities as captains include helping teach and choreograph the routines, running practice, and helping the girls with any questions or problems. I would observe all day that Megan had a very mother-like quality about her. She was always walking around asking everyone how they were doing. Even myself.

Kim was energetic, always dancing and messing with people. She would always be around talking to the girls and helping them with their poses. It was easy to see why they both were captains.

Deanna and Shana were just as excited about this year’s team. Deanna, a former high school basketball player, thinks the team’s biggest asset is their team chemistry. Shana claims this year’s team is the most talented she has ever been on.

As I was wrapping up my conversations with the veterans, they were shooting their first photos of the day. So, I put down my pen and paper and thought I would observe.

The girls would pose in front of Michael and his camera taking pictures. The camera was attached to a tv which would show each picture Michael took. Jeanine and Cherie would stand on each side telling the girls how to pose or where to place their limbs to get the best shot. You wouldn’t believe the importance of an arm or leg placement.

After I began focusing on those placements rather than the body parts I WAS focused on, I began to see how awkward a shot looks when a limb isn’t in a proper position. I thought how awkward it must be to pose in these awkward positions for a camera. I mean I practice my jump shot or batting stance in the mirror, but that’s totally different.

The first girl to pose was a rookie, so I quickly caught up with her to get her views on her first shoot. Her name was also Meagan P., obviously spelled different than Megan C. She is referred to as Meagan P. because I guess they can’t disclose their last names. My guess is for stalking reasons...just a guess. Anyways, Meagan P. wasn’t nervous about her first shoot and absolutely loved it.

As the day went on, I was able to pick out the rookies. Overall, the team consisted of eight veterans, two who had left and came back, and nine rookies. I wanted to get a rookie’s view on the shoot before they actually went in front of the camera. I saw two girls standing off to the side observing everything very intently. Lacey and Heather were both rookies and both a little nervous. They told me that Cherie had helped them with some poses and all the veterans were giving them beneficial tips.

Girl after gorgeous girl kept coming out and getting their pictures done. It seemed like they just kept multiplying. Not that I was complaining.

After a while I just sat back and observed. I couldn’t help but notice the friendly atmosphere of the studio. I felt extremely comfortable with everyone and everything. Everyone was socializing with one another. There was music playing, and everyone was having a good time.

Michael’s son and his friend, who resembled a young Tom Chambers, were dancing horribly to Justin Timberlake while Jeanine was playing with her 3-month-old daughter, Malia. Instead of worrying about their makeup or their next pose, the girls were playing with the baby, and hopelessly trying to help the boys with their dance moves.

As the day grew longer, everyone was awaiting the swimsuit portion of the day, as was I. We left Michael’s studio at four in the afternoon and headed for Isleworth.

I will foreshadow my experience at Isleworth with one word. Wow! The 30 minute drive led us to a gated community which I have come to understand is home to the rich and famous. We pulled up to a mansion at the end of a cul-de-sac that would make Robin Leach blush.

I was informed that it was Ken Griffey Jr’s old house. Either way it was by far the largest house I had ever been in. I sat down to gather my notes and camera on a leather sofa in front of an enormous fish tank. I took a minute to review my pictures and notes.

I got out my pen and started writing until several scantily clad dancers walked past a 60-plus inch flat screen TV, and it was then that I stopped to enjoy this moment.

I was in a mansion in Orlando, Florida surrounded by some of the most beautiful women in the world. Have I mention yet they were all half naked? I had to quickly get refocused because I was heading for a cold shower and I had a job to do.

The swimsuit shoot would go along much faster than the team pictures because there was only one outfit for the girls and they only did a couple of poses. The heat was almost unbearable, it must have been in the mid 90's. Every male that was outside was sweaty profusely, I'm guessing it was only partially because of the weather. I kept going back into the mansion. Could have been the air conditioning, or could have been because that was where the women were getting ready. Probably both, but more so the latter.

Girls came in and out of the mansion, as did I. Everyone still having a good time but more focused on wrapping up the day. After talking with the girls I realized that they all preferred the swimsuit shoot. Prior to the swimsuit shoot, I had asked most of the girls which they preferred, the team uniform shoot or the swimsuit. They all answered the team uniform shoot because it was what they would be wearing all season.

Furthermore, they were all worried about how they would look in a swimsuit. I think they looked fine. When asked the same question later, the girls unanimously changed their mind and liked the swimsuit shoot more. I am going to have to concur, ladies.

The sun was going down but it didn’t cool down any as all the girls changed into their matching black two pieces for their team shot. One last smile, one last pose, and they were done.

Twelve hours of work had been completed. Everyone from the cameramen, hair stylists, makeup artists, photographers, and of course the dance team joined in congratulations of each others work. It was a long hectic day for everyone but the end product was well worth it.

I learned a lot from my first assignment. I learned my job is freaking sweet, but most importantly, I learned how top notch our dance team is from top to bottom. The entire Magic organization should be proud and thankful for the 19 beautiful, well-rounded women who make up the 2007-2008 Magic Dancers.

Not bad for a first assignment. Thanks Matt.


Labels: , ,