There is a new sense of optimism in the Valley of the Sun. With the number one overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft, the Phoenix Suns selected a potential franchise changing player in Deandre Ayton, the former five star prospect from the University of Arizona and the consensus top overall draft prospect. It is hoped that he will evolve into a difference making pro player and one that will stick around after his initial rookie contract expires. Having played his high school and college ball in the area, Ayton might prefer to stay at home instead of shopping his services around to the highest bidder. So things are definitely looking up in the Valley of the Sun.
And with the advent of this year’s dance team auditions, there is a renewed sense of optimism as well for those of us who enjoy the game day entertainment. Every year, a new group of dancers courageously give it their all with the hope of making the cut and securing one of the coveted spots on the Phoenix Suns Dance Team. And I was there for a portion of the proceedings.
This was the sixth time that I have made the trek from Los Angeles to Phoenix to cover the Suns Dancers auditions. Having photographed two games with Phoenix Suns, I can tell you that the dance team is an integral part of the game day experience, so I was excited to renew my relationship with the organization and to see the new crop of hopefuls and the returning veterans.
The 2018 Suns Dancers Auditions were held on Saturday, July 21st at the Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. There would be two rounds this day, but the media was only allowed to cover the first round. Over 50 young women were in attendance and they were vying for one of the few available spots on the dance team.
Let’s take a look at the best photos from the preliminary auditions.
Pre-audition Introductions and Warm Up
Suns Dance Team Director Sumer Meyer addressed the assembled group of candidates and welcomed them to the event, sharing with them what the day’s festivities would entail.
Sumer was a former Phoenix Suns Dancer herself and here is a photo of her from a 2010 preseason game in Indian Wells, California.
First Round Dance Rehearsal
For the first round, a short dance routine was taught to all in attendance, which included returning veterans as well as newcomers. Though this was a 90 second choreographed routine, it took more than an hour to demonstrate all the steps and rehearse the routine sufficiently for the judged portion to follow.
First Round Performance
After the dance rehearsal, the girls were called up in groups of three to perform the routine before a distinguished panel of judges.
After the last group of hopefuls had performed, the judges retired to deliberate and the candidates were excused for lunch. The media was also excused for the day, so I gathered my belongings and packed my camera equipment for the long journey home. As I drove back to Los Angeles, I couldn’t help but wonder about the images that I captured that day, hopeful that I got something unique and special. Like the Phoenix Suns, I left the Valley of the Sun with a renewed sense of optimism.
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I would like to thank the Sumer Meyer, Sean Gale and the Phoenix Suns organization for allowing me to cover their 2018 Suns Dancers auditions.