The Ladies of Ontario Fury held their auditions for the 2015 dance team this past Saturday and I was very interested in the outcome. You see, the Ladies of Ontario Fury have become one of my most beloved squads to shoot and under the direction of Lynae de Leon, they always seem to have some girls that are “next level” cheerleaders. This past season, two girls made NBA squads (the Laker Girls and the Golden State Warriors) and another Fury dancer was a finalist for the Phoenix Suns.
So every year, I eagerly await auditions to see who are the returning veterans and who are the potential newcomers to this squad. And this year, there are several openings for newcomers as only nine veterans were trying out again. With nearly 50 girls trying out, the competition for one of the 16 spots would be the most competitive in the three year history of the team
Lynae kicked of the auditions by welcoming all the attendees and then team owner Bernie Lilavois provided some insight into the role, responsibility and value that the Ladies of Ontario Fury bring to the organization. They are an invaluable asset in the marketing and representation of the team withing the community and this being their third year of existence, the Fury still are challenged with building the brand.
After the introductory comments, former Ladies of Ontario Fury dancers Kaitlyn and Michelle led the candidates in a perfunctory warm up and stretching session.
Lynae is former Clippers Spirit dancer and her connection to that organization was evident when she introduced 2007-2015 Clipper Spirit dancer Brittany Williams to demonstrate the audition routine…a nice challenging number choreographed to the Britney Spears song, “Toxic”.
I lost track of time, not something that I normally do at these events, but it must have been about 45 minutes or so for the girls to learn the routine. It seemed to go very quickly to me, but I was concentrating on getting some great shots of the hopefuls and this portion of the audition passed quickly. Before I new it, it was time for the first round of judging. The girls were gathered off to the side of the room by former Fury dancer Jolene and then they were called up in groups of two to perform in front of the judges.
There was a brief break while the judges conferred and within a few minutes the first cuts were announced. I am not sure how many girls were eliminated at this phase, but it didn’t seem like many. I suppose that is a testament to the fact that this year, there were many qualified candidates in attendance.
After the eliminated girls exited the room, Brittany began adding to the audition routine and over the course of the next 45 minutes, she taught a routine that spanned a full minute and a half.
When it was time for the second round of judging, the girls were once again called up in pairs and asked to perform the full audition routine.
After the last grouping of candidates had performed, the judges retired for lunch and deliberations. The staff, photographers, and media also retired for lunch, which was provided by the Ontario Fury. I must admit that in all the years that I have covered the Ontario Fury’s dance team auditions, Bernie and the Fury have treated me very well.
When the judges and the candidates reconvened after lunch, Lynae announced the results of the second round and approximately twenty or so girls remained. They were gathered together in a semi-circle and asked to perform a brief freestyle dance. This was another opportunity for the candidates to showcase their talents and create a lasting and positive image for the judges.
The next segment of the auditions was the interview portion. The candidates were escorted into the room in groups of five to answer questions posed by the judges. The questions were of the standard fare, not too difficult or challenging…mostly of the type to ascertain the girls’ conversational skills in a setting that they might experience out in the community.
I think the most humorous answer I heard was in response to the question, “if you were stuck on a lonely island, what one item would you bring?” And if I recall correctly, it was Nikki who responded, “an El Pollo Loco Restaurant”, so that she would always have her favorite food to eat. Now…since the vagueness of the question offered the possibility of a complex, thoughtful and humorous answer, I thought Nikki’s response, which included multiple items within the larger definition of an “item”, e.g. restaurant, was hilarious…and quite sensible.
I don’t think one candidate answered a question in an awkward or unseemly manner, which is a testament to the type of women that want to be a Ladies on Ontario Fury dance team member. Me, I like my cheerleaders to be a little more risque, snappy, and sarcastic…but I guess that’s why I am behind a camera not not running a dance team.
After the interviews, the judges wanted to see individual dancers paired up with girls of the same look and other different combinations. I suppose they wanted to see how girls with the same look danced against each other and to see how other girls meshed together as a unit.
At the conclusion of the small group dance, the judges took a few minutes to deliberate over what they had seen and when they came back, Lynae had indicated that no one would be cut and all 22 girls would make it into the finals.
There was a little bit of drama before Lynae made her surprise announcement…she started calling of numbers in random order without letting the girls know that they were not in ascending order. One girl became a little emotional, thinking that she had been cut. But Lynae quickly rectified that notion…and then they were happy when they realized that they all made it to finals.
22 finalists…8 returning veterans…16 open spots. The opportunity is there, now we just need to know who impressed enough to make the final roster. We will find out soon!
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I would like to thank Bernie Lilavois, Lynae de Leon and the Ontario Fury for the opportunity to cover their 2015 dance team auditions. I had a wonderful time and look forward to seeing the 2015 Ladies of Ontario Fury when the season starts.