More than 400 women from all across the planet descended upon Cowboys Stadium on Saturday, May 5, to chase their lifelong dreams of becoming a member of the world famous Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. The diverse group for the 2012 auditions ranged in age from 18-62, and came from as far away as Japan, South Korea, Mexico City, Seattle and Miami. They also came from as close as Arlington, Fort Worth and even Merkel, Texas, for the opportunity to cheer for "America's Team."
The first hopeful was in line Saturday morning at 5:45 and when 8 a.m. rolled around, the legendary Phil Whitfield opened the doors with the familiar words, "Ladies, welcome to Cowboys Stadium!" The preliminary auditions were under way. After registration, the ladies went through 'Fluff & Puff' -- getting their hair and make-up ready -- before heading down to Section 123 for the welcome address from DCC Director Kelli Finglass.
Finglass explained what the 14 judges would be looking for, including dance technique, poise, enthusiasm, personal appearance, figure, personality (eyes, smile and showmanship) and energy. The judges are looking for girls to take over the stage and stand out, Finglass said. They do not want "blenders."
Then it was back upstairs to the Main Concourse West Platform to begin the process of "making dreams come true."
With the CMT cameras rolling for the seventh season of Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team, the girls took the stage in groups of five, introduced themselves to the panel and performed a freestyle routine. "For the right girl with all the right qualities," Finglass said in the first episode of Season 6, "those 90 seconds can change your life."
Everyone who went before the judges was unique. One woman missed her college graduation ceremony to audition. A couple of others had moms who were DCC in the '70s and '80s. There was a former San Francisco 49ers cheerleader from Japan. There was also a nurse who deals with open heart surgery daily. She said she basically "fixes broken hearts for a living."
Chelsea Chaney has dreamed of being a DCC since she was 8. She is a lifelong Cowboys fan who was a four-year cheerleader in high school, including being the captain her senior year. She was also among the 144 that survived the initial cut and returned to Cowboys Stadium for the semifinals Sunday at 8 a.m.
This day brought an entire new level of intensity as the competitors were taken down to the field to learn a new power dance routine and the signature DCC kick line taught by choreographer Judy Trammell. Ally Traylor and Ashton Torres (retiring members of the DCC) helped the new girls learn what they would be performing for the judges in less than an hour.
With a mixture of anxiety and adrenaline, they danced to What a Feeling by Kelly Rowland and did the kick line to Part of Me by Katy Perry before the judges left the field to make their selections. When Sunday came to a close, 55 women were invited to the final auditions, which are May 19th and will include the 25 returning cheerleaders from the 2011 squad. It will be their chance to prove they belong among the best performers in the world and become one of America's Sweethearts.
FOLLOW JAY BETSILL ON TWITTER @THEFAMOUSJAY