Friday, December 14, 2007

St. Cloud Native is Member of Timberwolves Dance Team 

Posted by James at 5:37 AM ET

by Laurie Nelson
St. Cloud Times
As St. Cloud native Karen Nelson approached her senior year of college, she imagine winding down a lifelong dance career with a final season on the school dance team, as well as completing her studies in English and history. Suddenly, on a friend’s suggestion, Nelson decided to attend auditions for the Minnesota Timberwolves Dance Team in July 2005. That fall, she embarked on a year of senior college coursework and the time of her life as a National Basketball Association dancer.

Nelson now balances the Timberwolves home game schedule with her full-time job as a buyer analyst for a Twin Cities corporation. In her second season with the Timberwolves dancers, she has learned what it means to be a professional dancer on a team that performs up to three games a week for crowds of 10,000-plus basketball fans.

Karen, Tmberwolves Dancer
The Minnesota Timberwolves Dance Team moves around the Target Center during games and can be seen watching and cheering in the stands.

Asked whether it’s been difficult for a group of young women from varied backgrounds and experiences to come together to become a cohesive dance act, Nelson responded that the current team has really gelled since the 2006 summer tryouts. There were 80 dancers at tryouts, which were cut to a team of 15.

There is great diversity of talent at the monthlong summer tryouts, and many girls don’t realize the extensive dance background the directors of the team are looking for. Finally making the team was really a huge triumph for each of us, she said.

She added that a number of other St. Cloud area women have gone on to exciting dance careers with various college teams throughout the state, as well as with the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Minnesota Vikings. St. Cloud has a strong dance tradition and excellent local studios and instructors who help produce dancers whose desire is to dance in new and more challenging settings.

What’s the most exciting part of dancing at a Minnesota Timberwolves basketball game? Nelson said that it is during the fourth quarter of a close game. The music goes on and the team, on the spot, chooses from a set of 20 dances which one it is going to do. She said that you kind of fly by the seat of your pants, but that’s what makes it fun.

There are also funny, unexpected incidents that happen. Her first season with the team, a dancer forgot her belt for a costume and the team ended up constructing one out of athletic tape. Nelson said it’s still a joke on the team about who is going to bring their tape belt for the next game.

Nelson and the other dancers are also asked to appear on behalf of the Timberwolves organization at a wide variety of events. These include corporate sponsor events, charity functions or a few dancers being requested to attend a girl’s birthday party. The dancers have their own charity activity during which the team spends time with patients in the children’s wards at a Twin Cities hospital.

Asked if she has gotten to know Kevin Garnett and the other Timberwolves players, Nelson said that their relationship with the players is a professional one and that they don’t socialize with the players.

Nelson enjoys the excitement of game nights, bright lights, pulsing music, cheering fans, famous players, great friends and dancing.

She said she is lucky to be part of such a great organization and have a chance to do something that’s always been a part of her life.

Check out Karen's profile at Timberwolves.com.

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