Monday, July 14, 2008

2008 Clippers Spirit Auditions (cont'd) 

Posted by Sasha at 9:21 PM ET

Picking up where we left off…

Prelims: Round 1
Once registration was over, and everyone was warmed up, it was time to get started. All of the dancers gathered on the court and Game Entertainment Manager, Marianne Bogoyevac introduced the team’s new Director, Audrea Harris, and new Assistant Director Cheryl, who may look a bit familiar to you.

This is how the day would go: there were three combinations, across-the-floor, jazz , and hip-hop. The choreographer would teach it, the dancers would have a few minutes to rehearse, and then it would be time to perform it for the judges in groups of three. The judges would make a cut after each combination. It sounded like an awful lot to accomplish in one day.

Next, Audrea introduced the judges and the choreographer for the first two combos. There were a lot of smiles when she introduced John Peters. John Peters is THE MAN when it comes to pro sports dance choreography. Everyone knows who he is. He’s worked with tons and tons of different pro teams, from the NFL to the NBA to the XFL to the World Bowl, to the Super Bowl. He’s great at what he does, plus he’s a real hoot. Pretty much everyone was glad to see him. Heck, I was glad to see him and I don’t even know the guy!

John taught the across-the-floor combination, a series of turns, kicks and leaps that take the dancer from one end of the room to the other. These were the basics any dancer who has taken classes would know. For the dancers in the group, it was a nice easy-ish way to start the day. For the non-dancers, it was pretty hellacious. Plus the judges were watching, which can’t do much for your nerves.

Meanwhile, a couple of guys from the Clippers were observing from above. I’m sure they were mostly admiring the dancers’ technique. After a little while, a couple of the guys went away and only Paul Davis was left. That’s when I made my move.

Sidebar: In the corporate world, there is a little expression “It’s better to ask forgiveness than permission.” In other words, if you want to do something, just do it. Don’t wait for someone to give you permission. If the outcome is good, everyone is happy and your boss thinks you’re a real “self-starter,” with “lots of initiative.” If the outcome is not so good, you just take the hit and move on. Obviously this works in some cases (hey boss, I decided to organize the office supplies by color) but not in others (hey boss, I decided to go ahead and take that two month vacation. I didn’t think you’d mind.) Two completely different outcomes there. Firing being one of them.

But getting back to my point, last year I asked for permission to take some pictures from the upper level and was denied, denied, denied. This year, I noticed that the door to the stairs was open a crack and took advantage. Like I said, Paul was the only guy up there. I figured if he tried to throw me out, I’d try to work up a few tears. The dude is seven feet tall. Like he really wants to be seen bullying a girl!

When I got to the top of the stairs, I asked him to pretend I wasn’t there (which he was already doing). I also told him if anyone asked him, he never saw me up there. But like I said, his attention was on someone else. About 200 hundred someone elses. So anyway, I got some good photos as you can see. Too bad the combination took the girls the opposite direction across the floor. I got loads of photos of the back of everyone’s head though.

Meanwhile, back on the court, John was teaching the dance. First everyone learned in a big group. But then he had them change places a few times so everyone had a chance to be up front. It’s not easy to learn a dance when there are six rows of girls between you and the choreographer.

After John finished teaching, he broke the group into smaller groups so they could take turns performing the routine full out. This is when you could start to see what was what. From what I saw, it shook out into three groups:
Group 1: the girls who clearly knew what they were doing
Group 2: the girls who were pretty good dancers – until they music started and they just could not keep up
Group 3: the girls who – let’s be honest – didn’t have a chance at this and perhaps went to the audition just for the experience of it.

You may be a great dancer at home in your living room. You took ballet when you were little. You were a cheerleader for a couple of years in high school. You’re at the club all night long. All your friends say you’re the best dancer in the group. But reality hits pretty hard when you’re standing in between two girls who can kick their legs twice as high and twice as fast as you can. It's kind of a bummer.

After a couple of run-throughs, the dancers had a short time to rehearse and freshen up and then the auditions began. They lined up around the room and went across the floor in groups of three. There were about 200 dancers, but the combination was short, so the whole thing didn’t take as long as you might imagine.

The judges retired to an undisclosed location to deliberate, and the dancers had time to get some water, stretch out, text their friends, etc. When the judges came back, they made the first cut, sending about a third of the girls home.

This was when the veterans showed up. I thought this was intimidating last year, when there were only six of them. This year there were twice as many. And guess what else? The dance team is shrinking from 18 to 16 this year. These are not good odds for a newbie. In fact, those odds pretty much suck.

To be continued. Mwahahahahahaha....

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