This past weekend was a big one for the Kings Dance Team. Girls from all over the region came to Sleep Train Arena to audition for the team. Dancers who are currently on the team have to re-audition as well - there are no free passes! It's a nerve-racking experience for everyone who comes out. Everyone wants a coveted spot on the Kings Dance Team, and they know that only the best of the best will get a placement for the upcoming season. Though I was just capturing images of the event, I was nervous still for the girls! The air was thick with tension!
The entire arena was empty and the girls had the court all to themselves. I can only imagine how big the experience must have felt for some of the auditioners. This is no small room or studio... this is a full-fledged NBA arena... and it's HUGE. I'm guessing that for many of the girls this is the first time they have been through the player's tunnel and onto the floor. Exhilarating, I'm sure.
The dancers were in good hands as Jenn Santich (SKD Manager) had two professional choreographers come and help the girls with their dance moves during the auditions. They provided warm-ups, choreography, and encouragement as the days went on. Though I know each of them wanted to see every dancer succeed, it would be up to them to makes the cuts as the days went on.
The first day of auditions was also the day that most dancers were cut. The judges didn't want to waste anyone's time. If a dancer was not up to par they were told to work on their craft and try again in the future. It's always tough to hear that you don't make it, but it is also a huge learning experience. I hope that those who didn't make it after the first day of cuts use their time spent for auditions to motivate them to be even better. It is very common to try out multiple times before earning a spot on the roster.
Audition day two started off with the girls going through an interview process. The girls would go into the press room of Sleep Train Arena one group at a time for a panel interview. It is important that SKD members not only be the best dancers but also great ambassadors for the Kings Organization. Dancing is only one aspect of this job, they also do many appearances outside the arena at schools, hospitals, and other events. Dancers have to be able to interact with the fans in a positive way and represent the team well.
The interviews were high pressure situations. In standard interviews you may have to talk with someone from human resources or a small panel of people. In this interview you had that plus the fact that the interview was being filmed and photographed. I actually felt bad standing behind the interviewers and snapping away as the dancers answered questions. I'm pretty sure I added a little extra pressure as they gave their responses.
Once the interviews were done the girls had to quickly change into SKD costumes for several different photoshoots. The shoots lasted for quite some time as these images had to be perfect. Images from these shoots would be used in printed materials throughout the year. Sadly, I wasn't the photographer for these photos. I just covered these photographers doing their jobs.
The dancers had basically two types of shoots. One shoot had the girls in different outfits, while the one shown above was all about their dance form. The girls had to perform different poses, many of them very difficult to do. I'm actually very excited to see how these come out. The ones from last year were really great!
There were no cuts on the second day, but on the third and last day there would be a final cut. Dancers had to perform a solo routine for the judges. The routine was filmed and can be seen on the voting page of the Kings Dancers website. This is the part of the audition that dancers can really be unique and show off their personality and style. Out of all the things I saw this past weekend, this was probably the most exciting.
After solos it was time for the judges to get down to business. They spent quite a long time deliberating on who to cut and who to keep. It was an agonizing process with so much talent this year. Some decisions just couldn't be made right then and there so the judges actually asked to see a few more performances from certain dancers before they made up their minds.
Here the girls wait for their name to be called. The girls who are chosen here become the finalists, those that don't have to go home and hopefully re-apply next year.
It's a brief time of joy for the finalists once they find out what they are. The girls congratulate each other and take a nice breathe. The three day audition is over and there is just one more step to take before the girls who make it find out that they are on the team this year.
The finalists will each get featured on the Kings Dancer's section of Kings.com. Fans will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite dancers. The fan vote will be taken into consideration by the final judges. Usually the final dance team roster is around 20 girls - could be more, could be less. Best wishes to all the girls this week as the fans vote!
It was great to be at the arena this week covering the Kings Dancers' auditions. It was truly amazing to see how much work these girls put into their craft. Nobody can say these girls are just something pretty to look at. They are strong athletes that are under immense pressure. My hat goes off to them! Make sure you vote for your favorites and give them your support!