Kelsey: Going Through Jazz Dancer Tryouts

Hi, I’m Kelsey, I’m 20 years old and from Salt Lake City.  This is my first season as a Jazz Dancer and I’m so excited to blog about my experiences.  Follow my Dancer Diary all season to see what me and the other Jazz Dancers are up to!

Imagine a room full of beautiful, talented, energetic girls. Everyone you look at is stunning and so incredibly nice. As you look around the room you see a wall of “hall of fame” jerseys with the last names Stockton, Malone and Dantley. The greatest basketball players to date! The floor that you are standing on is the floor that the NBA players,that you’ve watched every game night, actually practice on! And on top of that just picture being mixed with nerves so strong and excitement just as equally strong. This is what my experience trying out to be a Jazz dancer was like.

The first day of tryouts we had to meet in the morning to register and were given our audition numbers that we would have all week long. After registration we were given time to warm up, get ready and change. At exactly 9 am the judges came in and sat at a table at the front of the gym. We were told that they would be watching us learn our dance, as if this isn’t terrifying enough! Jan Whittaker, our coach, taught us a dance in about 15 minutes after learning it we were given 5 minutes to review and then we immediately started the tryout process. In groups of four in numerical order we performed the dance we had just learned two times in front of the judges. After all the girls had performed, the judges were given an hour to talk over what girls would make the first cut and we were dismissed to go to lunch. I was so nervous that I ate lunch in my car and didn’t even leave the Zion’s practice gym parking lot! All the girls returned 20 minutes early because we were all so nervous!  The judges finally returned with a list of the numbers of the girls who had made it to the next round. They started calling out the numbers and did it in random order. After reading about 50 numbers and mine hadn’t been called I thought that I hadn’t made it to the next round. But then the second to last number was 32, my number!!! I wanted to cry because I felt so relieved!!!

The next round would be three days of learning dance routines and a huge focus on physical fitness. We had our trainer, Neil Anderson, come in and do a work out every day. We were judged on how well we could perform and keep up with the workout. I have never felt so sore in my entire life! I dare you to do burpee’s for 30 minutes straight. Yes, that was one of the workouts! Neil takes physical fitness to a whole new level! On the third day of the second round we had our next cut. We performed the dances we had learned the past three days in front of some new judges after we performed we were told to check the Jazz Dancer website the following day and our numbers would be posted on their if we made it to the final round! The next day I was checking the website all day and it still hadn’t been posted and then finally when I checked for the 50th time that day the list was up! And there was my number! Once again I thought I was going to cry because I was so relieved.

For the final round we had interviews with the judges before we performed our dances for them for the final time before they decided the team. The interview, to me, was one of the most exciting parts of the try out process because I was able to show my personality and really talk with the judges. A large portion of the interviews was to see if we knew about the Jazz and basketball. We were asked who our favorite player was, mine is Gordon Hayward,  and explain how basketball works and the rules. And why we should be chosen to be a part of the Jazz family. After the interviews we performed all the dances we had learned that week in front of the judges in groups of four again. Instead of being nervous this was the first time that week I felt totally at ease and relaxed. I figured I had made it this far, I might as well enjoy the moment! Doing those dances was total bliss and happiness! After everyone had performed we were told to call a telephone number in the next two hours and the telephones voicemail would be a list of the girls numbers who made it. Those were the two longest hours of my life! Finally after I had stared at the clock and the two hours were up I called the number and listened to the voice mail. Number 32, my number was read! I started screaming and jumping around my house! I was so relieved, happy and over whelmed with excitement! The try out process was so hard but it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Being a Jazz dancer is such an amazing experience. The team is such a talented, happy and energetic group of women! We have started practices and have learned about eleven dances so far and have been working out with our trainer at every practice. At every practice the veterans try and put into words how much fun the games are and how it is surreal to be out on the floor dancing. I am counting down the days until the first game! I can’t wait to perform and go and support our Jazz and cheer them on this season. Because we know that they are going to kick butt!  Go Jazz!!!