Leslie’s Tryout Diary

As the Hawks went through the process of selecting the 2005-06 Dance Team, one of last year's members, Leslie H., was along to provide Hawks fans with a behind-the-scenes look at what it is like to try out. Follow her progress as she went through a week of intensive practices and competition to make the squad for her second straight year!

Saturday, May 21, 2005: Final Audition Evening

After spending about a little over an hour getting myself ready for the finals, I left my apartment in a bit of a hurry in order to get to the performance stage with enough time to practice, stretch and apply the final touch-ups to my make-up before the doors would be open to the public. I'd just gotten in my car and begun to merge on the highway when I got stuck in traffic, and even worse....I ended up having a fender bender with another car!

I couldn't believe this was actually happening, and I just sat there for a moment in disbelief. I knew I had about 30 minutes before tryouts began, but I had no idea how long it would take for the police to show. Fortunately my calm personality, and the fact that I was exhausted, allowed me to just sit and try to focus on the dance I was hopefully going to perform. I spoke to several people who were already at auditions to let them know what had happened, and was told that I could be moved to the end of the line up to perform, which gave me a little more comfort as well. When the policewoman arrived and began to inquire about the incident, I could feel her confusion when she glanced at my rhinestone choker, fake eyelashes, and saw me attaching more rhinestones to my sleeves. I was getting so frustrated at this point that I didn't even bother to tell her what the interesting attire was for. Realizing that auditions had now been going on for about 30 minutes, I was finally free to go, and arrived at auditions just in time to take a few deep breaths and have a quick stretch. All of the girls were so concerned about what had happened, and I found out that they had all gathered to pray for me, which made me feel extremely comforted during a time of such a high level of anxiety. In the few moments I had before my performance I noticed that everyone looked so great, but I could definitely feel the tension in the air from all the nervousness.

We were separated in groups of 2, and my partner and I were the last to perform. I could hear the excitement of the crowd as I waited behind the stage, as I know this was a very entertaining production for the crowd of fans, family members and friends. As I walked on the stage it was great to have my own group of fans, which made performing even more fun, and I felt even more pressure that I needed to perform to the best of my ability, which I knew I could. I felt really good about my performance, and it was as if a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I have to say it wasn't an easy dance to perform after only having such a short amount of time to practice it.

Probably the worst part about auditions is waiting for the results! While waiting, all of the finalists had a chance to go out into the crowd and visit with our friends and family that came to watch, which made the wait much easier. After all the scores had been tallied by the 15 judges, it came time for the new dance team to be announced. After about 10 names had been called out, I heard #223, Leslie, from Birmingham, AL! I made the team! I was so excited, for myself and for everyone else on the stage with me! What a great ending to an extremely busy and hectic week.

I'm really looking forward to starting the new year with the new team members, and I can tell it's going to be a really great year for the '05-'06 Atlanta Hawks Dance Team!

Saturday, May 21, 2005: Final Audition Morning

I woke up at 7:30 am to get ready to go to the arena, where we had to learn the dance which we'd be performing at the final audition. I had no idea who would be teaching us today or how long it would be, so I was extremely anxious to get there and see what the dance was like. We spent a couple of hours learning, and then after a short meeting I was free to go home, rest, practice and then get glammed-up for the final audition. I was exhausted when I got home, and scared to close my eyes for fear I would not get up! I went over the dance in my head again and again, and practiced as much as I could without wearing myself out. The break was over before I knew it, and it was time to leave for the audition. I know I can do really well tonight, but I feel a lot of pressure to not make any mistakes in my performance.

Friday, May 20, 2005: Finalist Mixer at Twist

I arrived at Twist around 8:00 pm, and it was already getting really crowded as usual on Friday nights. I met up with the other finalists in a room outside of the restaurant - everyone looked so great dressed in all white! We all waited for instruction on what would be happening during the evening and socialized with each other. We finally received the news that we would be passing out ballots for people to vote for their favorite finalist and handing out drinks. Also, to our surprise, we were going be introduced to the crowd and then asked a question we must answer on the spot. I tried to anticipate what might be asked, hoping that I could give a good solid answer in front of all of the fans and my friends that were there to support me.

I was in the first group to be introduced and go into the crowd to mingle. I met a lot of different people, and had a great time introducing myself and talking about why I want to be a member of the Hawks Dance team for another season. When it came time for me to go up to the microphone and answer my question, I was much more relaxed than I anticipated, and the crowd created a fun atmosphere and less pressure than I expected. Soon after, I went back into the room where the other finalists were waiting and that was the end of the Finalist Mixer. Now I'm going home to get rest for the final auditions tomorrow!

Thursday, May 19, 2005: Evening Fitness Testing

I just completed the fitness testing event, which was led by our trainer, Ray Bear, who is also the trainer for the Atlanta Thrashers. I had been looking forward to this because I was expecting a fun training session,and a good opportunity to get a good work-out in before the final audition on Saturday. Well, it turned out to be exactly that, and a whole lot more.
We were separated into groups and I was the third group to go in, around 9:30 pm, which gave my group quite a bit of socializing time while we waited. The groups that went before me began coming back into the waiting room and were completely exhausted and out of breath, which looked a little intimidating. I finally went in at about 9:30, and they explained the 8 different stations, which were all being timed. We started off on the bike, which I was thinking would be so easy. When I got off of it, my legs not only felt like Jell-O, they felt like they weren't even there anymore - and that was only the first station! We went on to see how many pull-ups we could do in a minute, how many push-ups, a lot of agility drills, and lastly, sit-ups with the weight (medicine) balls. It was quite a bit more strenuous than I expected it to be, but I made it through, and now I'm just hoping I'm not too sore for auditions Saturday.

May 19, 2005: Morning Interviews

Today I went to Philips Arena for my interview at 11:00 am. Interviews can sometimes be stressful and cause a little anxiety, due to the fear of not knowing what will be asked, or what I may think of off the top of my head when asked certain questions. I experienced nothing like that today.

This interview is a great way to show professionalism and poise, and most importantly, a chance to show what my personality is really like. I had the opportunity to talk about my dance background, my experiences from the previous year, and express my opinion on the future direction of the dance team. I felt extremely relaxed going in to the interview, and felt exactly the same when I left.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005: Jazz Class

Tonight I took the jazz class, which began at 9:30. As I arrived at the studio, I looked around and realized how great it was to see the girls I was on the team with last season, but also really fun to see the girls that I have met throughout the week. It's almost like there's a natural bonding that occurs between all of us, whether you've been on the team previously or not. This always seems to happen because of going through all the same processes and working together to achieve the same goal. At this point it almost seems like having all 38 finalists on the team would be great!

I have been extremely impressed with the caliber of instructors and choreographers that have been teaching us throughout the week, and tonight was no different. It was so great to combine relaxing stretches, challenging choreography, a fun atmosphere, and an intense workout all in a 90 minute class. Once again, I left there feeling great, and now I've completed the class observation portion of the week.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005: Four days till the Finals

Tonight is the night I signed up to take the hip-hop class. This is one of my favorite parts of the week. Over the course of the basketball season it's hard to find time to actually take classes due to our practice and game schedule, so this part of the audition process is much appreciated. Tonight feels a lot less tense than yesterday's performance, with the long panel of judges staring at you with pens in hand. This is my chance to show my passion for dancing, as well as my own sense of style, and how quickly I can pick up on the instructor's hip-hop style. As I expected, the class was a blast, I am covered in sweat from head to toe, and my abs are actually hurting from the intensity of the class. I can't wait to take the jazz class on Wednesday!

Sunday, May 15, 2005: Try-outs

I'm definitely not used to waking up at 7:00 am on weekends, but today was the first day of auditions, so I don't even think I could have slept any later if I wanted to! I know I have a lot to do to get ready so I need as much time to prepare as I can get. I got to the gym at 9:40 and stood in a long line with my competition as we waited to register. I made a couple of friends in line, even though I knew that I was being stared at, up and down, from the girls around me who realized I was a veteran from the previous season.

As auditions began, I realized that I was so concentrated on myself, I didn't even remember to look around and notice how much talent the person standing next to me may have had. After making it through to the second cut and performing a dance that had just been taught to us, I felt that I exuded a lot of confidence and energy, and honestly, I had a blast performing for the judges. I've made it to the finals, and feel relieved that this was such a successful day. It's been an extremely long day, and after being in the audition gym for 9 hours, I have no clue what time it is. I'm going home to rest and think about what I need to do to be prepared for the rest of the audition week!

Saturday, May 14, 2005: One day till auditions

I can't believe auditions are already here! I've always enjoyed dance team try-outs, but then again, I always get that butterfly feeling in my stomach the day before the preliminary audition, most likely due to the fear of not knowing exactly what to expect. Today does feel a little different than the way I felt this time last year. Having a year of professional performing experience with the Hawks makes me not worry so much about what type of dance we'll perform or what to wear. Plus, it helps knowing that my friends are feeling the exact same anticipation as I am. I'm feeling confident, and I'm really anxious to see who shows up tomorrow!