Timberwolves Dance Team Always Ready to Move

Timberwolves Dance Team Always Ready to Move

By Rebekah Stivers

“Twenty-two on the fast beat,” says Melissa Sax, co-director of the Timberwolves dance team. They line the stairs behind the Wolves’ basket, second half. First timeout after the sixth minute in the fourth quarter. It’s a tight game—they’re ready to move.

At any moment, these 16 ladies have 30 routines they can kick out for the minute-20-second timeouts. Be “up”—really “up.” Talk to the crowd, and—besides halftime, watch for the first timeouts called after the 6th and 3rd minutes in the 1st and 3rd quarters and the 6th, 3rd and 1st minutes of the 2nd and 4th quarters—it’s show time again. Got that?

Don’t know what “22 on the fast beat” means, no worries. The Wolves dance team does—routine number 22 danced to music with every other beat followed immediately by another quick beat. We’ll leave that up to them.

“It’s nice to have some of the girls who have been dancing for us for four years,” says Tura Hallblade, dance team co-director. “They can teach the younger ones and kind of pull them along.” You must be 19 to try out, and have a high school diploma.

The four-year members are Heather and Stacy . Hats off to you, ladies.

Theirs is a grueling schedule. “It’s a full-time night job,” Hallblade says. All are required to work full-time as well. Some are students, and some teach dance at the college level. Others work as merchandise coordinators at Marshall Fields® and Target®. One wants to be a doctor.

They practice twice weekly for three hours—that’s not it. At least one hour of cardio before or after practice, plus 3-5 additional workouts each week.

And 11 home games in January alone.

Tonight, the ladies wear their black and white leather tops and bottoms, white boots. They have 31 outfits and change each half. Their outfits cost upwards of $600-$750 apiece. All the ladies are under size 6. Golden Tan®, of Minneapolis, comps their tanning. They have to keep the look.

And they look good. Really good. “It’s a fine line,” Hallblade says. “We try to be classy, sophisticated, sexy, without being trashy.” It’s the Midwest, after all. “You can’t bring the ‘LA girls’ to this market.”

Hallblade and Sax have scoped out their competition. Other dance teams don’t interact with the crowd as much. Some teams stand courtside only, separated from the crowd. “Our girls have to do research on our opponents,” Hallblade says. And they line the stairs on either side of the Wolves’ basket each half.

The scouting report—each team member does about three per season—contains 10 quick tips the ladies can tell fans. Who scored as many points as KG last game; who was Player of the Month—and did you know KG is the league’s reigning MVP. The team member doing the scouting report sends a pre-game email to her colleagues.

The ladies don’t travel with the Wolves, but coordinating the logistics of each game is akin to producing live television. Sax and Hallblade stake out both ends of the court throughout the game, under the stairs leading backstage—right by the little black phone.

This is their connection to the time-outs music coordinator, who sits mid-court at the suite level. What music’s coming up, where is Crunch (Wolves’ mascot). Be ready to move.

Clearly, it’s their team. Their time.