The All Star Game is the “super bowl” of the NBA. The highly anticipated weekend brings together basketballs most talented and most popular players to duke it out in an East vs. West matchup. This year’s All Star Weekend in New Orleans was nothing short of exciting for the Wizards fans as our very own Bradley Beal shined during Saturday’s Skills Challenge while John Wall soared over G-Man to win the Dunk Contest. But Wall and Beal weren’t the only ones representing the Wizards on the court this past weekend. One dancer from every NBA team in the league was invited to participate in the All Star Dance Team and I went to represent the Wizard Girls.
I had the honor of performing alongside some of the league’s best dancers and just like John Wall’s triumph it was no easy task.
I arrived down in New Orleans Wednesday and went straight to practice to learn the routines we would be performing at the weekend’s events. In addition to meeting the other dancers on my temporary All Star Team, we were introduced to our choreographer Amanda and her production assistant Stephanie. This first practice was a true test of our technique, memory and endurance as we underwent seven hours of dancing. To our surprise, we learned we would be dancing with Pharrell at the Player’s Introduction performance. Exhausted, we all went back to our hotel feeling both overwhelmed and excited about what this opportunity brought us.
Our second day was very similar to the first, but believe it or not it was actually twice as tiring. We started the day splitting into the Eastern conference and Western conference dancers and learning choreography for our “battle” dances. My east team had a great hip hop routine with a variety of dynamics including hard hitting movements and intricate more delicate elements. Although the routine was challenging, it was fitting choreography for many of the East coast dance teams such as New York and Miami. Our afternoon was filled with more practice; working on 4 different routines and learning our performances with Pharrell and special guest Vanilla Ice. The practice days were a really great bonding experience for us as the All Star Team. In our down time around meals, we shared our experiences on our teams; comparing team rituals and our game day routines. Coming together from such a huge variety of backgrounds there was always something new to learn from one another. As 11:30pm rolled around, we were ready to rest up for opening day.
Friday came quickly and we were all excited to dance at the Celebrity Game for our very first performance. We spent most of the morning running through the script of the game and blocking our spots for our performances. Before we knew it, it was time to get ready and let the game begin. Although the arena was much smaller, the stands were packed. Fans of all teams were in attendance. I was happy to see some Wizard fans and took pictures with them representing DC. The energy in the arena was high and we took the court to perform our East and West routines. It was nerve racking and I felt a bit of pressure but we ended up pulling off a great performance which seemed to be well received by the large applause. Lastly, we closed the night by performing a military style hip hop dance all together. All the girls were excited to have gotten the first performance under our belt and were looking forward to making the routines even better.
Saturday started early with rehearsals and blocking in the Smoothie King Arena; home of the Pelicans, where the All Star Game would take place. The skills challenge is a fan favorite event and we would be performing during timeouts and short breaks for the players. Being a dancer in the NBA, we are accustomed to performing on court, but today would be completely different. We performed on a stage similar to a concert production equipped with lights, stairs and moving platforms. The experience was unreal and it was so fun to be able dance out of our element with flashing lights and television screens. I must admit to having a ton of fun dancing alongside Vanilla Ice as he shot up through the floor and surprised the audience with his Ice Ice Baby number. We took it back to the 90s and danced our hearts out throwback style.
But the absolute best day of all was Sunday at the All Star Game. Along with Jason Derulo, the All Star Dance Team was a featured performance at a pre-game concert near the arena. This was just the way to start our night because the crowd had such high energy and really loved our dance. The fans were rooting for their teams as we danced on stage in our East and West battle groups. Following the pre-show we made our way to the arena for the big game. It all came down to this. Watching from the tunnels, an audience came down to the court and sang along to the Player Introductions Concert by Pharrell. It was finally our turn to take the floor. The arena was completely packed and star studded. My nerves were high but as soon as I stepped out to dance, I felt the enthusiasm and excitement from everyone in the arena and got lost in the pure joy of being a part of this event. The All Star Dance Team closed the concert with Pharrell and danced to his song “Happy” complete with costuming rather than our individual team uniforms. Our performance felt so great and we ran off smiling with no regrets. With an overwhelming amount of positive energy, we went on court and nailed our next performance. I could not have asked for anything more and was so proud of all us young women coming together to perform as a team in only a few days.
The experience on the All Star Dance Team was more amazing than I could have ever expected. Although we put in a ton of hours rehearsing, it was worth every second and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I met remarkable young women from all over the country, worked with esteemed choreographers and performed at basketball’s biggest event. I was so proud to represent my extraordinary team, the Wizard Girls and to cheer on the Washington Wizards during their history making season.