Kelsey: Charity Appearances

Practices and games have been so much fun! We have been learning new dances each practice and have some very fun themed dances coming up! The whole experience has been very rewarding. But, the most rewarding part of being a Jazz dancer has been the charity appearances. I have had the most amazing experiences with the charity functions I have been able to attend. The Jazz puts a huge focus on giving back and reaching out to the community.

The first appearance was The Taste of Utah at The Grand America Hotel at down town Salt Lake. This charity gala was for Cystic Fibrosis, a disease that affects almost 30,000 children in the United States. It was our job to sell raffle tickets for prizes that were being auctioned off! It was so cool because the Jazz had donated so many things to be auctioned off. There were shoes signed by the players, jerseys and tickets for the games! One of the most coveted items was a signed basketball by legendary Jazz coach Jerry Sloan. It was so amazing to be apart of such an amazing event representing the Jazz and raising money for a disease that affects so many.

The next charity appearance was at Primary Children’s hospital. This appearnce has been a tradition for the past 30 years for the dancers, players, bear and coaches to go and visit the children and had out toys. I was.paired up with another dancer and the Bear to go around and visit room to room. We handed out small basketballs and posters to the kids. It was so much fun going with the bear because the kids LOVED him. He was getting on the beds with them, running around and scaring the hospital staff! Every child kept on saying “that silly bear! He’s crazy!” The kids were so excited to see some of their favorite players. And kept saying “Go Jazz!” It was such a rewarding way to spend my afternoon and help those kids feel a little bit better.

Kelsey: Life as a Rookie Jazz Dancer

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!

Being in Jazz dancer has been such an amazing experience so far and I’m really lucky to have this opportunity! We recently had our pictures taken that will be used for the season. It was somuch fun going and getting our pictures taken and being pampered with hair and makeup. But let me tell you, it was a LONG day. I know what you are thinking, how could it possibly be at all hard?! Well when you have twenty different girls with 4 outfits each, plus hair and makeup and changing locations, it can add up to be a long day! I was there from 8:30 am to 9pm! We had a couple of different themes going on with the pictures. The first was of us dancing and striking poses with the photographer trying to capture us in action. Next, we had our individual headshots and a shot of us in an outfit of our choice to show our personality. We then had our group shots. The first was an old Hollywood Broadway theme. Which was my personal favorite. We had Broadway themed props that were incorporated into the picture to make it seem like we were from the movie Chorus Line. Our last and final picture was taken at Energy SolutionsArena, on the basketball court. It was fun because we were posed with basketball and our pom poms to give it that classic NBA basketball feeling.

All the hard work paid off when I was able to perform at my first Jazz games! My first game was the Jazz vs. Portland game. I was so nervous and excited for that night! We are able to space and practice on the court 3 hours before the game. So when I arrived at the arena I went to go meet the other girls on the court to start running our dances. While we are doing that the Jazz players are on one side practicing and their opponents on the other side! Its crazy! But it got me excited and in the competitive mode to cheer on the Jazz! When it was time to perform for the opening of the game it was like an outer body experience. The music was playing and it came for us to start and all of a sudden my body just started doing the dance! It was so much fun to look into the audience and cheer on the Jazz. During halftime while we were getting ready for our next dance Ty Burrell walked by… AKA Phil Dunphy from MODREN FAMILY!!! He is from Utah and a Jazz fan, just a fun fact 😉 I was able to get a picture with him and some of the other girls. He was so nice and so humble! The game was so much fun and the Jazz won! My next game was our season opener against Dallas. It was on Halloween so our dances were Halloween theme. It was really fun because we had the opportunity to dress up in our own costumes. I was a cowgirl! For our other dance we had these long white tee shirts that we wrapped around us to seem like we were asylum patients. And in the middle of the dance we untied our shirts to make the extra fabric fly around. It was so cool! We had a mix of songs with a “crazy” theme. The best part of the night was the Jazz played awesome! And we won!!! The games have been so awesome and it has been so fun!

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!!!