Cohen: Night to Remember

final auditions

By Josh Cohen
July 15, 2011

ORLANDO -- It lasted a little over 15 minutes.

It felt like a little over 15 years.

For those that heard their names called when the members of the 2011-12 Orlando Magic Dance Team were announced on Friday, the nervousness, trepidation and anxiety felt during those stressful 15-plus minutes of deliberations from the judges was well worth it.

After a week of rigorous and passionate audition activities, which included a very competitive First Round, a couple days of backbreaking boot camp, pressure-packed interviews with a variety of judges, an assortment of dance rehearsals and spectacular final performances in front of hundreds at Amway Center, the winners can finally celebrate a job well done.

For the returnees from last season, which include Tara, Lyndsay, Jessica, Emmy, Shalize, Victoria, Abby, Jazmin, Heather, Virgilia, Ashley, Priya, and Kendra, they proved they are exceptional performers with a demonstrated talent to lead by example.

“It’s that much more exciting,” Jazmin said about being named to the team for a second season. “Last year was one of the best year’s of my life. I feel I have a lot to bring to the table in terms lending a helping hand to those that need it.”

“Walking into this arena last year as a rookie was an eye-opening experience,” Abby said. “For the veterans who have been in this arena before, it’s our time to help the rookies.”

For the rookies, which include Katie, Krystle, Tya, Gizelle, Casey, Shaunte and Laine, they showed they have unlimited potential and a willingness to adapt to the Magic’s techniques.

“I just wanted it that much more knowing how much fun I had trying out last year,” said Shaunte, who made it to the finals last season. “I got a taste of it last year and I came in more confident and relaxed this year.”

It was very apparent at final auditions that whomever Dance Team Manager Jeanine Klem-Thomas and her accompanying judges selected, there would be no shortage of personality, elegance and commitment.

Smiles lit up on each finalist’s face every time they took the stage to perform their routine in front of all the spectators.

And it was no different when these incredibly gifted entertainers arrived last Saturday for First Round Auditions or when they had to battle all the exhaustion from the various physical challenges at boot camp or even when they were forced to answer the rather intricate questions during the interview stage.

Over the next few months, the 20 members of the Magic Dance Team will begin preparations in their quest to become the most dynamic and dazzling dance squad in the NBA.

And during this time, we will begin to learn more and more about each of the dancer’s backgrounds and personal stories like how Katie flew into town last week from Cleveland where she was a dancer for the Cavaliers the last three seasons.

We will certainly notice the cohesion that these 20 artists will develop as they become more and more familiar with each other.

We will see more and more improvement, both individually and collectively, and we will ultimately see an outstanding dance team perform at every game at Amway Center during the 2011-12 season.

It was very telling how integrated the team already is when all 20 members of the squad along their manager, Klem-Thomas, and assistant coach, Cherie LaRosa, huddled around each other. The chant went like this:

“Who came to bring it?” Klem-Thomas shouted.

“We came to bring it!” the dancers shouted back.

After two more rounds of that recite, the whole team with hands in erupted with OMD’S (short for Orlando Magic Dancers)!!!!!!!!!


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