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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Dancing for Wolves 

Posted by James at 1:55 PM ET

Elk River Star News
When you watch the Minnesota Timberwolves Dancers on television or at the Target Center, look for a lean, energetic 5-foot-3 blonde with a high-megawatt smile and long, luxurious hair.

That’s Ashley Kurr, a 23-year-old Elk River native who’s been dancing since age 4 and joined the Wolves’ performance team this year.

“I have always loved watching sports,” said Kurr, “and this is a great way to be part of a sporting event while continuing my dance career. It’s another step up — from studio to St. Thomas dance team to professional with a sports team.”

The dance team performs two dances at each of the 41 regular season home games, plus exhibitions and playoffs.

“We are not cheerleaders,” Kurr said. “We are a dance team. But we do have poms, and we greet fans and do some sideline cheers.”

Ashley, Timberwolves Dancer

Kurr graduated from St. Thomas last year and works as an account manager for Business Impact, a promotional firm in Chanhassen. All the dancers are either in college or have graduated.

Other dance team tidbits: They have about 50 costumes. Dances are performed no more than three times each. They do all their own choreography under coordinator Abby LaDuke. In full force or partial groups, they make around 300 appearances per year including TV, radio, restaurants, malls, and charity events. And the dancers don’t mix with the players, said Kurr: “We see them on the court, obviously, and we see them in passing, but we don’t hang out.”

The pay’s not great, but the job has perks like free tanning and hair care and tickets for friends and family. And mainly the fun and prestige of being a dancer for a big-league team.

“I am thrilled to be a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves Dancers and have loved every second of this season,” said Kurr. “Being in dance for nearly 20 years, I have still not lost my passion for it and don’t think I ever will.”

Kurr’s parents, Greg and Dawn, have held season tickets to the Wolves for several years. (“Now they’ve got one more reason to go!” Ashley says.) She has one sibling who’s her favorite athlete: Kyle, a former Elk hockey player now skating with Hamline.

Ashley, Timberwolves Dancer

While attending ERHS (class of 2002), Kurr was a sports fan but not involved in dance team, cheerleading or sports. She channeled her energies to studio dancing with The Dance Shoppe in Plymouth from age 4 through high school. They learned tap, ballet, and traditional dances, and had many recitals and competitions.

Kurr danced with the St. Thomas team for four years and earned a degree in communications with a minor in community health. Her team was Division III national runner-up her last year.

Anxious to keep dancing, Kurr tried out for the Timberwolves team in early August, along with a St. Thomas teammate named Eileen.

“The first day, we learned a dance and performed it,” Kurr said. “There were over a hundred girls, and 25 or 30 were called back. Then we had interviews and photos the second day.

“And we found out the next day on the Web site. If your picture was there, you made it!”

Kurr saw both her photo and Eileen’s, much to her delight. You can check out the team yourself on Timbervowlves.com

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