What's your history with the Power Dancers?
I danced for several seasons as a Power Dancer from 1998 to 2005. This is my first season as dance coach/choreographer.
If you could compare your style to an NBA coach, who would it be?
I really respect Coach [Rick] Adelman. Moving to a team like the Timberwolves and where he's about to take those guys? I'm even looking forward to it. But his coaching style-no holds barred, yet still supporting, being the coach he needs to be, but being there for his players- that's pretty much like me.
Everyone is familiar with the struggle of players trying to make an NBA team. What
can you tell me about the Power Dancers auditions?
It's hard. I was a very straight to the point choreographer and coach, and for me, it's about how fast can you keep up? How quick can you learn? And at the same time, do you still look good doing it?
We had over 200 girls turn out, the last 20 had to go through panel interviews and get tested on things about the organization. When these girls are wearing this uniform, they need to know about who they are supporting and what organization they're working for. So when fans come up to them and talk to them about a trade, or Coach [Kevin] McHale, the girls know what they're talking about.
When did you first start dancing?
In the '80s, especially when breakdancing was huge, I was that 4 year old kid doing windmills on cardboard with the boom box. But l didn't get into a dance team situation until I was 12 years old. My mom put me in dance, I was so mad, I was a tomboy, the only girl on the baseball team, but I'm glad she did.
There's a bit of a Texas rivalry with the Spurs, Mavs and Rockets, does that extend to
Oh yeah. the Power Dancers want to be the best in Texas. And yes we do feel a sense of competition with the Mavs Dancers and the Silver Spurs Dancers, but all in all we're Texas teams who are here to support each other. If they bring the NBA dancer competition bracket back, you know we're going to want to win, but it's healthy competition.
Any crazy experiences you've had with fans?
Our fans are great. We never ran into stalkers or anything crazy like that. I had one fan that followed me around to our appearances. Before Facebook, we would announce that the Power Dancers and a player would be at Hooters or a sports bar through newsletters. I did see this one fan, all the time, "Hi Natalie, Hi Natalie, Hi Natalie." It was never a scary thing, it was always support, but our fans definitely have their favorite dancers.
What's your fondest memory as a Power Dancer?
It's not even dancing, it's not even wearing the uniform, it's not meeting Michael Jordan. We did a lot of community appearances with the Sunshine Kids and I remember being in the back hallway and these girls have lost their hair because of cancer and they're only 10 years old. And you're standing there in your Rockets uniform and they're just looking at you like you're a superhero and all they want is a picture and all they want is a hug. There are so many cool and amazing memories, but that one stands out.
~ DUANE WATSON #7, NBA HOOP Magazine
Official Practice Facility: LA Fitness. Hair: Sean Anthony and Monte Perez and Studio 9 Hair and Make Up. Make Up: Kelly Zavala and Britany Rios with Oasis Salon and Medi-Spa Clear Lake. Tanning: Darque Tan. Training: Chip Blalock