So, You Think You Can Dance?


On Fox's hit TV show "So You Think You Can Dance," hopefuls from all over the country compete in varying styles of dance on a weekly basis for the chance to be recognized as America's favorite dancer.

Meanwhile, right here in Minnesota, some of the best dancing talent in the Midwest showed up at Target Center Monday night at the first of three prep classes leading up to the August 20-21st auditions for the 2007-08 Timberwolves Dance Team. To at least one pair of untrained eyes, more than a few of the 28 girls that thought that they could dance were absolutely right.

"It went so well," said new director Abby LaDuke, a former Wolves dancer who spent her last two years breaking it down for the Phoenix Suns. "The girls learned so quickly, the choreographer was perfect, the choreography for them to learn was perfect (and) I got everything across that I wanted to get across to the girls."

"I think it went really well," added Sally, a two-year veteran. "It's just a good chance for girls who have never danced in the NBA before to see what it's like, to give them a taste of the dances we do and our style."

After seeing the success of these prep classes in Phoenix, LaDuke brought the practice to Minnesota for the purpose of offering an inside look into the philosophies and requirements for the Dance Team.

"Dancing in the NBA is a lot more than what a lot of people think," said LaDuke. "Sometimes girls get into it and then realize, 'Hey, I have five nights a week with this!'"

Additionally, the prep classes allow the ladies to get some of the dancing jitters (no relationship to the jitterbug) out of the way, with the prerogative of coming into auditions just having to perform.

"It's nice to just dance before auditions, actually," said Stacey, who's set to try out for her fifth year on the squad. "Normally, you just come in after so many months off and bam, you're dancing. Here, at least you can warm up and get a feel for your dancing again. It was cool to see the other dancers and the talent we have."

"There are still butterflies, but for them to be able to come and just dance, and then go into auditions and feel comfortable with their dancing ability is really important," LaDuke explained.

To help her with the first prep class, LaDuke enlisted the support of former Wolves Dance Team teammate Shannon Bruce, who danced for Minnesota from 2002-04. Bruce set to the task of choreographing a hip-hop routine for the participants to learn and perform at the prep class, and will most likely come back during the season sometime to finish the routine and polish the choreography.

"Hip-hop is my favorite style of dance, so it worked out really well," said Bruce, who created the routine by dancing in front of her mirror in her room at home. "This routine is really sassy, and has a lot of hair-whipping. That's one of the highlights about the choreography."

Hair whipping, indeed.

"Shannon had a lot of hair-tossing going on," said Sally. "That's very signature of our team -- we like that move. So that was good to bring that back."

Bruce explained some of the other technical aspects of the dance, having something to do with eight-counts, and about how there's essentially one move per count. We won't pretend to understand what that means, but it looked good on the floor.

"They did great!," exclaimed Shannon after the workout. "I thought they picked it up really quickly, which is always a good sign, and there was a lot of energy.

"Hip-hop can be kind of tough sometimes. For technical, ballet-type dancing, your arms always have to be in a certain place, and with hip-hop there are so many variations. So sometimes it's a little more challenging for dancers. But I thought they did an excellent job, with a lot of strength in their movements and really good hair-whipping."

"It was definitely nice to get back into the routine of learning a dance and then rolling it on the floor 30 minutes later," said Kristi, who's returning to auditions after a two-year hiatus. "It is fast-paced, but I'm glad I'm back into it."

Two more choreographers will take care of the routines for the August 8th and August 13th prep classes, but we're not yet sure if Wade Robson or Shane Sparks will be heading to Minnesota.

"I'm looking forward to seeing the other choreographers and seeing their styles," added Kristi. "I definitely like Shannon's style, but it'll be fun to see what else is out there."

For further questions about the prep classes or auditions, contact Abby LaDuke at laduke@timberwolves.com.