November 8, 2015

On being a Utah Jazz Dancer.

My intent was to blog about dancing in the NBA whiiiile it was actually happening.
BUT here we are.
Like, way too long after it actually happened.

So I'm just going to do an overview, cliffnotes style, if you will.
And I might be more candid and honest than I should be. 
But let's face it, there were things I LOVED and HATED about the experience and I want to remember it all. 
Also, I remember when I was thinking about trying out and googling anything and everything that would maybe give me a glimpse into what I was getting myself in to.
There's not a whole lot. 
So if you're thinking about trying out, maybe this will help you a little. 

Here's a list of all the things I was unprepared for, good and bad.
Also, as a disclaimer, this is all based on my own personal experience. AKA: all my thoughts and opinions are just mine and no one else's!
So there's that.  :)
1. The physical exhaustion. 
Honestly, I was prepared to be physically exhausted, but not to this extent. Practices are 4 hours long and they start with a work out. I thought I was in-shape, until I had to work out with the Jazz Dancers. I remember the very first practice we had, I had to talk to myself mentally through the whole thing. No joke. I was like, "you can do this", "only 4 more circuits", "maybe sing the national anthem to make time go faster". And then after the work out, you dance and you dance hard. There's rarley down time during practice. But luckily, your body gets stronger. I would dread practice at the beginning of the season, and eventually it became no big thing.
2. The mental exhaustion. 
You learn about 40 routines throughout the season. Practices mainly consisted of learning multiple dances in one night. It wasn't rare where we would learn a dance and perform it the next night. And it's a way scary thing having to perform numbers that AREN'T in your muscle memory and having to think hard during the whole performance. OOOOOH my brain was so fried all season. Not to mention, a lot of the dances were so similiar! So many times I would be practicing back stage, do a move, and start going into a completely difference dance. Panic mode - activated.
3. The pay.
I don't think I can disclose how much they make, BUT we did get paid for all practices, games, and appearances. Way more than I thought (I read online that dancers only make $50.00/game and that's it). So that was a pleasant surprise.
4. The perks. 
There's not a lot. So that was a sad surprise. No free tickets? B cried. 
5. The weigh-ins.
They happen once a month and they never tell you when they are going to be. Those sucked. I remember not eating a whole lot when I THOUGHT we would be having weigh-ins, and also trying to pee a whole lot as well. (it was the worst thing when I was wrong, cause then I was running on not enough food at practice). Honestly, I never once left a weigh-in feeling like a baller. More like I needed to grab an exercise ball and do 1,000 sit-ups. I was told to lose 5 lbs. That never happened. I think I actually ended up gaining weight from the muscle I was building with all the work outs.

(just a side note: people are usually really surprised when I tell them that we have weigh-ins, like "how could they!?". But let's get real. Our job is to dance and be fit. Of course they are going to monitor our bodies closely. Not that that makes it suck any less, but I guess it just makes sense in my brain.)
6. The intensity. 
Usually if you screw up in a dance in a concert or something, it's not a huge deal. Screw up on the court, in front of 20,000 people, on the jumbotron? You're toast. The coach doesn't let mistakes fly, and basically you want to die if she saw you mess up. Just take my word for it that it's NO BUENO.
7. The friends. 
Truly, the best part about the Jazz. I made so many life long friends through this journey that I am SO grateful for. During my season, there was no drama and we all got along really well. Everyone was so sweet and loving and I LOVED IT!!!
8. Feeling like a piece of meat. 
It happened. They want you to look good and sexy and available. Didn't love that. I also wasn't allowed to wear my wedding ring, which also made me not happy. But it's just part of the whole thing!
9. The makeup. 
At my first game, I feel like I caked the makeup on, like CAKED. Then my coach looked at me and said I needed more. I was like, "more?! but HOW?!". I'm such a dummy when it comes to makeup. Like truly. Even to this day, contouring and highlighting is such a foreign thing to me. But I did learn a thing or two and my eyebrows have never looked better. 
10. Game day. 
It's an event. We get there early, practice on the court with the basketball players (while trying to avoid their flying basketballs), then dinner, then we get our hair done and do our makeup, then we warm up, then we greet and make appearances to the suites, then we dance. It's a long day, but also really really fun.
11. The driving. 
Practice was held about an hour away from my home. Being late is unacceptable (even getting in a car wreck isn't a valid excuse ?!?!?!?!), so we would leave way early. The arena is 45 minutes away - we would also leave way early for that. Seriously I felt like I drove SO MUCH. But I had a bomb carpool and some of the best memories of being a Jazz Dancer happened during all our car rides. Belle, Alex, Dano...I love you so much!
12. The costumes.
We have so many costumes! I totally wasn't expecting that. And they are cute. LOVED THAT.

13. The modesty.
I don't know about you, but as a dancer, I expect to be wearing spanks and tank tops and shorter skirts/dresses. It's just part of the deal.  However, if you look at other NBA teams, they wear crop tops that show lots of belly and lots of cleavage. Dancing for the Jazz, if it shows too much mid-drift, we aren't allowed to wear it. I remember we wore this way cute yellow hoodie for a dance and on some people it showed too much of their stomach, so we weren't allowed to wear it again. The modesty - some people love and some people hate. I for one, appreciated it.
14. Being a "rookie".
If it's your first year, you're called a "rookie" like, all the time.  Rookies are usually always in the back of dances and you're basically under a microscope all season. The worst moment of the season was when we had learned a dance the night before (that the Veterans already knew) and we weren't told that we would be performing it the next day at the game. During our practice, right before the game, I remember the coach telling the rookies to get on the basketball floor and do the dance for her and the Vets. I think a few swear words were said in my mind. Mostly just, "holy shoot, holy shoot" over and over  :) We basically got roasted cuz we didn't know the dance and I remember being so stressed because we were getting yelled at AND we had to have the dance perfected by the 4th quarter. Basically being a rookie sucked on that day.
But the veterans are so nice, and the captain was so so sweet. They help you all season and really make you feel welcomed on the team.
15. Performing.
At the beginning of the season, I hated performing.  It was so dang scary! Plus you didn't know if you were going to get busted after the performance for being out of line, or messing up, or whatever.  But after doing it a few times, it became the best thing ever.  Performing in front of so many people gives you a high that can't really be explained! As the season goes on, you get better at remembering the dances and the coach's comments turn from criticism to praise. This is the thing I'm going to miss the MOST. Performing on the NBA floor.
16. Throwing out prizes.
During the 4th quarter, we get these little jazz balls and we throw them out to the crowd.  I was NOT prepared at how BAD I was going to be at that.  Hahahaha after my first game, B said, "Awesome job baby! Now...let's go work on your throwing skills."  :)  I quickly learned to NOT point at the person I was going to throw it to.  I had too many embarrassing experiences where I would point to the person, nod my head at them, throw the ball, and have it go in the completely wrong direction.
 *face palm*

17. Getting makeovers.
Such a fun AND scary part of being on the Jazz.
At the beginning of the season, they give you a hair makeover and give you some makeup that goes with your skin type and coloring.
When it comes to your hair makeover, you don't have much say.
I remember just standing in front of the coach and our hair stylist and they were like, "I don't like her blonde, let's take her dark brown...and she needs a trim."
And then you just kind of walk away and that's it! You show up to your hair appointment and they do what they want!
They cut off a TON of my hair, which made me sooooo sad. But it could have been worse!
They gave some girls bangs, some go more red, some get extensions, etc, (one chick got her hair chopped and dyed blonde!)
It's fun to see everyone after their hair makeover and it totally reminded me of an episode off of America's Next Top Model. You feel me?!

And really, that's all I can think of right now.  It was a great experience and I'm glad I did it!  Mostly because of the friends I made and being able to perform, but also because it taught me to be confident in myself, go out of my comfort zone, to make new friends and to try new things!

One more thing!
I think there's a stereotype that comes with being an NBA dancer.
Like, idk, "pretty, but dumb" (???) Maybe?!
Anyway, that is SO. NOT. TRUE.
On the Jazz, a lot of us were graduated, there were people with a masters degree, a nurse, a mom, an accountant, girls moving on to grad school, etc.
I guess all I'm saying is that this group of girls are AMAZING and not just at dancing, but in tons of other aspects of life as well.

Ah! One more thing!
I was fully planning on trying out again for a 2nd season.
But life has different plans and I ended up opening a dance studio instead (!!)
Next stop? baby time. 
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  1. I loved this post!! I always thought about auditioning but I'm too scared that my dance level isn't up to par. That sounds like such a great experience!! Good for you!!


  2. LOVED watching you dance. So proud of you and we are still your biggest fans to date! Here's to Jive Riverton! whoot! whoot!

  3. This was such an interesting read! I always wondered what that life would be like. I'm sure it would be such hard work and exhausting practices. I saw the Rockettes in NYC a year ago and all I could think the whole show is, "Wow, these girls must practice 24/7."

  4. Like to see their performance. It is so great to enjoy.

  5. What a nice colorful images. Thanks for sharing this funny & informative images. I miss my all friends when we all riding our Best Gold Coast Longboards .