Dallas Mavericks Dancers director Mallory Mills took the stage shortly after 10 am in front of 261 girls who were in attendance in the Coronado room inside the massive Hilton Anatole hotel in Dallas. (Be sure to check out the photo gallery.)
As the girls looked on in anticipation, Mills said, "You all look amazing, so relax and have fun!"
Mills joined the "First Lady of the Dallas Mavericks," Ali Dee, among the eight judges who watched as the first round of auditions for the NBA's Hottest Dance Team began. For this first round, the girls were lined up numerically and came out two at a time doing freestyle routines. The music ranged from club-mix versions of Katy Perry's California Gurls to Poison by Bell Biv Devoe. All of the tunes -- and the hilarious interruptions via rewinding -- were courtesy of the official DJ of the Mavs, DJ Whiz.
I actually felt like I was hanging out in a gigantic aerobics class where I was in the worst shape of anyone in the entire room! I guess being one of five guys in a room of over 250 girls will do that to you.
Mavs in-game MC Chris Arnold had the mike and made the announcement on who had survived the first cut. "When your number is called, step forward," Arnold said. "And if you don't hear your number called, it does not mean your dream is over." Unfortunately, some of the girls did see their dreams dashed. They fought back tears and exited the ballroom where many had friends and family waiting in the foyer.
Veteran Mavs dancers Jenna, Paige, Lauren and Whitney were all on hand to teach a routine to the girls who made it through the first round. While all of the girls remaining had gained a certain amount of confidence, they knew that they were not out of the woods yet as many of them would still be going home and not returning Sunday for the final round.
For the next 90 minutes we were treated to/tortured with the same 30-45 seconds from the club-mix version of Can't Be Tamed by Miley Cyrus. The only people more worn out than myself and Robert, the photographer, were the veteran Mavs Dancers who performed the routine for the ENTIRE time while the hopefuls came out four at a time to perform for the panel.
Then came the second round of suspense as the judges left the room and the girls attempted to relax in every corner of the room. When Chris Arnold made the announcement of the lucky few, the room that was once near capacity and buzzed with anticipation held only 30 girls and had the overwhelming vibe of relief.
Mallory Mills said that extra special care was taken in her first selection process as a director after seven seasons as a Mavs Dancer. "I honestly felt more nervous as a judge," Mills said. "I may have paid a little too much attention to detail because I have been on the other end and know how important today is for everyone involved and to their dreams."
Mills went on to point out that this was only the beginning. Those who survive Sunday's finals will be invited to a four-day training camp with the final roster to be announced on Friday, Aug. 6. At stake is the opportunity to perform in front of 20,000 fans at all of the Mavs home games in the 2010-11 season. She said there are some big changes in store for game presentations for the upcoming season. "Just because something was a certain way last season does not mean you will see it this year," she said.
As someone who attends as many Mavs games as I can, it is a little sad to know that Mallory will not be out on the court next season as a Mavs Dancer. She has been far and away the most popular of the Mavs Dancers for the past seven NBA seasons and in the process developed quite the loyal following. Back in 2007, she was voted by the fans to go to the NBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas to represent the Mavs.
But after seeing Mallory at the helm during Saturday's tryouts, I can confidently say the Mavs Dancers are in great hands.
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