Every time I visit Phoenix, it seems to be hot…blazing hot…hotter than the sun, hot. And this time, it was no exception. In fact, it was the hottest time ever for me…118 degrees as I rolled into town. But as hot as it was outside, it was even hotter inside the Phoenix Convention Center where the Suns were holding their annual dancer auditions. Hot temperatures. Hot girls. Hot dancing. I could not think of a better way to spend a hot Saturday afternoon than sharing some quality time with the future Phoenix Suns Dancers.
This past Saturday, the Phoenix Suns held auditions for their dance team and I was fortunate to be in attendance to cover all the hot action. It was a long day of dance and beginning at 8:00 am, girls began lining up at the registration table for a chance to make the 2013 Phoenix Suns Dancers.
The auditions weren’t scheduled to formally begin until 9:00 am, but the early arrivals took the opportunity to relax a bit and start stretching.
DJ Dizzie entertained the girls as they waited by playing a number of contemporary songs and adding his own emphasis on the auditions. He also took the opportunity to pose with the candidates before the festivities began.
A little after 9:00 am, the staff arrived and promptly kicked the media out. They wanted to address the girls in private before the start of the auditions and I could understand that sentiment. By the time we were let back in, the girls were already going through the formal stretching and warm up phase.
After the warm up portion, Suns Dance Team Manager Taryn Carmichael addressed the crowd and let them know what was in store for them.
The first segment of the auditions would be a sideline pom pom routine.
Once the sidelines routine was fully demonstrated, the girls were called up in groups of six to perform in front of the judges.
Even though the candidates performed in front of a panel of judges and were scored accordingly, there were no cuts announced during this round. At the conclusion of the scoring, the girls were given a few minutes to rest and freshen up before they began learning the audition routine for the second and subsequent round. This routine was twenty full 8-counts of choreography with a freestyle portion at the beginning and the end. And if I may say so myself, it was a rather complex and technical routine with a series of kicks, spins, leaps to the floor, and a segment rolling back and forth on the ground. The routine used the entire floor space, from the back to stage right, to stage left and end up in the front.
This routine was so demanding, the girls were putting runs in their nylons (those who were wearing them) trying to perform the complex series of physical movements. And one girl injured her wrist during the judging portion. Indeed, this technical routine would be a true test of a dancer’s abilities, one that would separate the men from the boys…so to speak.
At 12:15 pm, the girls were called up in groups of three to perform the audition routine.
At the conclusion of the round, the judges adjourned for lunch. It was 1:30 pm and the first chance for the dancers to rehydrate and refuel for the next round. One hour later, the judges returned and Taryn announced the first cuts of the day. The girls were brought back to rehearse the audition routine several more times and at 3:00 pm, the candidates were once again called up in numerical order to perform before the judges for a second time.
Once all the girls had danced, the judges took a few moments and then called them back to the floor in small groups…groups of girls with similar looks. Two groups of brunettes, two groups of blondes, a group of ginger haired girls, etc. I suppose this was designed to compare girls with similar looks and to see which ones stood out from the rest.
At 4:30 pm the girls were excused for the day. Another round of cuts were to be announced later that evening and the girls would have to call into a hot line to find out their fate. Those that made the cut would have another day of interviews, photos shoots, and dance auditions. And those that survived Sunday’s cuts would be quickly ushered into training camp later that week.
For these girls, their journey to become a Phoenix Suns Dancer was just beginning. For me, my audition journey was at an end…except for the five hour drive back home to L.A.
* * * * *
I would like to thank the Phoenix Suns organization, Kip Helt, Taryn Carmichael, and Kelsey Dickerson for allowing me to cover their 2013 auditions. I had a wonderful time and hope to see you soon.