Names Behind the Games: Ashley Deaton

June 22, 2006
by: Jim Eichenhofer,

Admit it you need to know more about the Honeybees. To find out as much as possible about the NBAs premier dance team, went directly to second-year Honeybees manager/choreographer Ashley Deaton, who provided some answers to our questions during a recent interview.

Deaton a Honeybees dancer herself for three seasons in New Orleans brings a vast amount of experience to her position, having provided competitive choreography for many dance groups as well as overseas shows, Super Bowls and more. The Baton Rouge native and LSU graduate was also a member of a national championship-winning dance team as a Tiger.

In one of the most highly anticipated Hornets events of the summer, Deaton will be overseeing Honeybees tryouts beginning on Saturday, July 8 at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City. The final round of auditions will be open to the public at Bricktown Brewery on Monday, July 17.

Honeybees Tryouts are July 8, 2006

Eichenhofer: Can you describe what goes into your job as Honeybees manager and choreographer?
Deaton: A lot of people usually assume its just all fun, but I think coordinating anything with 20 women is in a task in itself [laughs]. Im responsible for running the practices, coming up with the choreography, selecting and editing the music, designing costumes, ordering props, scheduling public appearances, payroll, coordinating photo shootsthe list goes on. Im also in charge of the Stingers junior hip hop dance team. Thankfully, I had a few Honeybees who did a great job helping me to coordinate this talented bunch of kids.

Eichenhofer: Most Hornets fans see the Honeybees for a couple hours at each home game, but there is much more involved than just performing at games. What kinds of commitments do the Honeybees have to make to be on the team?
Deaton: All of the girls either have a full-time job or go to school. Some of them even juggle both. They dont join Honeybees to support themselves (financially). Its really time-consuming. We practice a minimum of two nights a week for three hours at a time. Its pretty common for us to practice three nights a week. Game night is so much fun. Thats what makes it all worth it. The girls get to the arena around 5 p.m. (before a 7 p.m. game), most of them coming directly from school or work. With pre-game practice and promotions AND trying to fit in time to eat dinner, its always a mad rush to get ready. On top of the rigorous training and the demanding game schedule, the Honeybees also do public appearances on a regular basis. These girls are in high demand!

Eichenhofer: Given that, as you say, the Honeybees dont make a living from being on the team, what do you think is their motivation for participating?
Deaton: All of these girls are passionate about performing and they are very talented. Its a big rush to share your passion with so many people and get recognized for it. Many young girls dream about being professional dancers or cheerleaders, and these girls are living it! Plus, its just so much fun to be right in the middle of all of the excitement, and the fans treat them amazingly. The reaction to the Honeybees has been incredible, and we are all so grateful for that.

Eichenhofer: The Honeybees perform approximately 35 different routines over the course of a season. How do you get your ideas for choreography and music?
Deaton: We get some ideas from a pro dance camp every summer, and then I come up with the rest. The key is variety! Up-beat music that the crowd can recognize and get into works best. To maximize the entertainment value, I like to keep it fresh by performing different styles of dance. Its important that all routines are high energy and allow the girls to express a lot of personality. If they are having fun with a routine, it shows, and then you cant take your eyes off of them. So to be a successful choreographer, my challenge is to create routines that are equally appealing to the dancers and the audience.

Eichenhofer: With Honeybee tryouts coming up on July 8, can you talk about what qualities you will be looking for in potential team members?
Deaton: Its not just I love to dance. A lot is demanded of these girls, and although they are trained dancers, thats just one part of their job. Personality is everything! These girls have to be energetic, outgoing, dedicated, mature, and well spoken. They are spokesmodels in a way, participating in radio and TV interviews and appearing on behalf of the Hornets for many public appearances. They must be hard-working and dedicated to keep up with all that is expected of them, and they must have the maturity and grace to carry themselves in a way that appropriately represents the rest of the team and the entire Hornets organization. There is so much more to their role than just looking pretty and shaking their pom poms. I was blessed with such an amazing group of devoted and talented women this past season, and I am expecting the same for next season.

Eichenhofer: You mentioned earlier the difficulty of coordinating and directing a large group of women. How would you describe your coaching style?
Deaton: Well, my co-workers know my favorite expression to be Suck it up! I think that Im tough when it comes to practicing. Laziness is a pet peeve and any signs of it will make me push them harder. To be respected for anything you do, you have to earn it through hard work. I also think that dancing is very athletic and intense, but is not always recognized as such. In order to be respected as any other athlete would, you have to be willing to train just as hard. There is a lot of satisfaction and pride that comes with being successful and knowing that you gave it your all to get there. Now on the discipline side of things, Im probably too easy. Ive never been good at being the disciplinarian, but watch out because Im getting better.

Eichenhofer: What are some of the biggest challenges you faced in leading about 20 Honeybees?
Deaton: You know, its just what youd expect. (A Honeybee may say) My boyfriends a jerk, Why is she in the front row and Im not, Im too fat to wear the white shorts, or Who is she to tell me what to do? And then with the drop of a dime theres nothing but love and hugs and happy tears. WOMEN! These girls will frustrate and stress me out so much, but I wouldnt trade it for the world because they make me laugh like no one else can, and theyll do anything for each other. They are SO silly! And despite the typical female rollercoaster of emotions, theres so much love and loyalty between the group. And needless to say, theres never a dull moment!

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