The Grizzlies Dance Team made huge strides this year thanks to the excellent leadership of new Dance Team Choreographer Tamara Moore. 3 Shades of Blue was able to catch the active leader of the dance team as she prepares for the tri-city tryout competition for next year's team.
3SOB: After a year in Memphis what has been the biggest surprise and the biggest disappointment with the dance team?
TM: I’d say the biggest surprise has been how positively people have responded to the Team. From Grizzlies Staff, to FedExForum game night staff, to fans, everyone has recognized the progress of the team and been very supportive of the changes made. As far as disappointment, I don’t know that I have any. I came here with lots of plans, and I’ve had to learn to be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will improvement of the Dance Team. I think I would have liked to have accomplished more of my early goals for the team. But thankfully, I am seeing continued progress in that direction daily, so stay tuned, we’ve got some exciting things in store for next season.
3SOB: You are spreading the auditions around the region for the first time this season, are you thinking this is going to be a way to really find new talent or are you expecting this to be like the cheerleader auditions from the Keanu Reeves film ‘The Replacements’?
TM: LOL. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ve seen the entire Replacements movie, so I can’t compare the two. However the reason we are opening auditions regionally is to see if we can acquire fresh talent. We are the only NBA team in this Mid-South region, so why not see what additional talent is out there? The Memphis dance community is small, and our hope is by casting a wider net, we will increase our turnout, and thus improve our odds of getting an amazing group of girls. I am excited to see what these regional auditions will bring.
3SOB: Last season the team started with about 18 dancers but by the end of the season it appeared there were far less than that dancing at games. Are their starting lineups for dancers at games and you have to be among the top group to perform or was there some other reason?
TM: We started with 18 dancers on the team, and lost 2 dancers prior to the start of the season, due to work conflict. The third dancer’s full time job relocated her to Philadelphia, so by mid-season, we were left with 15 dancers. That’s a difficult number to work with, especially when we perform with 12 dancers per game.
3SOB: Ideally how many dancers would you like to see on next season’s team and how many openings do you have assuming everyone returns?
TM: All current dance team members must re-audition each year. Therefore, every spot on the team is open. Ideally I would have anywhere from 18-20 dancers on the team. That would give me a solid 6-8 person rotation for game scheduling, which is crucial when scheduling for 41 games. But quality over quantity is always in the back of mind, so if we can’t find what we’re looking for, we will readjust.
3SOB: The dancers were so much better last season than in previous years. Naturally having you as choreographer had a lot to do with that but a lot had to do with the work the team put in. What would a normal week of rehearsals entail?
TM: The girls worked really hard this season. I knew my choreography was a little bit different than what they were normally used to, so there were adjustments they needed to make. I know it was difficult at times, but they did a great job. We rehearse twice a week for 2 ½ hours at a time. I would love to rehearse three times a week, but our game schedule is so packed, it would be very difficult to squeeze a third day in. Needless to say, when necessary, our rehearsals go into overtime!
3SOB: Why do the girls have to spend most of the game in the tunnels or up in front of the suites. Why can’t they be closer to the floor during games like they used to be?
TM: I plan their placement in the arena around their performance times. They always perform twice a game, but their performance times rotate each game. If it’s a quarter when they’re not performing, I try to send them to either the Terrace level or in front of the suites, so that they can be closer to our fans. They often will spend more time taking pictures with fans in those areas then actually dancing! As entertainers, I think they provide a greater service rotating in the stands where they can meet and greet fans, than on the court where they have limited mobility. Next season we plan to use additional locations, so stay tuned they may be dancing right next to you!
3SOB: What kind of experience are you looking for from a prospective dancer?
TM: Ideally, I would love to have someone with 5-7 years of dance training in ballet, jazz, and hip hop. Training is important, because it allows me to push the envelope as far as dance technique goes. I also would love for them to have performance experience. Someone may be a great dancer, but lack personality and charisma in their performance, so it’s important to have a combination of both.
3SOB: Assuming you find some prospects in Nashville or Jackson, would the team relocate them to Memphis and assist them in finding work? Would they even be expected to move to Memphis?
TM: Prospects from Nashville, Jackson, and Little Rock would be expected to re-locate to Memphis on their own. It’s a part time job, but we are confident we will get prospects willing to make the move. I had two dancers relocate from Little Rock this season. You would be surprised what lengths people take to be a part of an NBA dance team. When you love to dance, you will go where the job takes you!
Tryouts are being held in Jackson, Missisippi on June 4th, in Nashville on June 7th, in Little Rock on June 11th and in Memphis on June 14th.
You can also check out our interviews with former dance team members Ashley Nations and Terah Chin.