Cohen: It's More Than Just Dancing

By Josh Cohen
July 13, 2011


ORLANDO -- If you ever decide to try out for a professional basketball team’s dance team like the Orlando Magic and learn that the audition process is a full week long, make sure you make a checklist prior to the start that is all-embracing and comprehensive:

1) The obvious: Practice your dance moves

2) The unambiguous: Be 100 percent committed (flexible schedule, unrelenting desire to be a part of the team, never-ending want to entertain)

3) The reality: Be in great physical shape (eat healthy, work out intensely for months and months at the gym)

4) The unforeseen: Understand how to impress an assortment of judges (show confidence, emphasize strengths, don’t be afraid of weaknesses)

5) The shocking: Do research on bizarre topics (ranging from basketball-related subjects to how to react to peculiar circumstances)


Whether this checklist is necessary throughout the entire NBA Dance Universe, I don’t know. But if you ever opt to try out for the Magic Dance Team, it’s essential.

After a few days of rigorous boot camp, which included all kinds of physical challenges (squats, push ups, mountain climbers, sit-ups, etc.) and intense group session workouts like Group Kick, the 30 finalists in this year’s audition process had to sit across from former Magic dancers and answer questions that range in difficulty.

Try this one for proof: As a dancer, what do you do if a pro basketball player tries asking you out on a date? While it may not be known to those that are not as experienced, dancers are forbidden from dating one of the players. That question may seem like it came out of left field, for sure, but it’s all a part of the examination in the quest to earn a spot on this elite and prestigious squad.

Or how about, for instance, describe what you struggle with the most? That may sound somewhat basic, but upon further analysis, that is rather intricate and potentially overwhelming.

Finalists were asked to exploit things that, quite honestly, they need help with at a time when one would expect to exclusively focus on all the great and wonderful attributes she possesses.

There was even an appraisal process where the finalists had to pair up and blush about assets that their PARTNER excels at.

Now think about this for a second: Each dance aspirer had to say all these spectacular things about their competitors, who ultimately could win a spot on the team over them.

There were a number of astonishing details provided during all of the interviewing.

One finalist lives in a different NBA city, danced for a different NBA team the last three seasons, flew out to Orlando for the week and is staying at a hotel because she is so impressed with the quality of the Magic dance team that she decided to come and try out.

Another competitor as a young child overcame femoral anteversion, which is a condition in which a person walks with his or her toes inward. While it wasn’t easy, the finalist still found a way to pursue her dreams of dancing and eventually the condition was mended.

Or how about those that have dealt with serious injuries recently? One dancer broke her ankle in March but is still going through the grueling audition process and another recently had knee surgery.

There are contestants that have relatives that are current or former professional athletes.

There are some that will have to practically work 12-hour days to fulfill their job and/or school responsibilities while remaining committed to the Magic Dance Team.

Most outsiders who have never watched professional dancers prepare, especially during an audition process, may be shocked about just how hard it is to be successful as a dance entertainer.

I know I am.

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