By: KRISTI SCALES; Sideline Reporter, Dallas Cowboys Radio Network
‘Often imitated, never equaled’. That phrase describes the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders -who are also affectionately referred to as ‘America’s Sweethearts’. Auditions for the 2015 squad begin May 2nd at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Although auditions are closed to the public, I’ll share some behind-the-scenes moments from my perspective as a judge.
This will be my 14th year to judge auditions. It’s truly an honor to be part of the process. The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders proudly uphold their iconic image whether they’re performing at midfield of a sold-out football stadium, signing autographs following charity appearances, entertaining troops overseas as part of a USO Tour, or visiting hospital patients. The squad is more popular than ever, thanks in part to the CMT television show “Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team” which will once again film auditions this year.
How popular is the DCC? And how hard is it to make the team? I can guarantee you that the level of difficulty has grown exponentially in the 14 years that I’ve judged. The dance ability is so high now. The past couple of years, we had young women who danced in Broadway shows not make the DCC.
And now contestants are coming from all points of the globe. The CMT television show is popular in many countries. Last year (2014), by my unofficial notes I jot down while judging, we had four contestants from Australia (two were returning DCC veterans, Angela & Jinelle), three contestants from Japan (including a 30-year-old cheerleading instructor from Osaka who reached the Final Round), and a 30-year-old cheerleader for the Toronto Argonauts who drove from Canada to Arlington. We also had contestants who were born in Russia, Taiwan, Colombia, China, and Mexico. Most of them now live in the United States. We had a contestant who was half Dominican Republic, half Haitian.
My point is that we have a diverse group of women who audition each year. They literally come from all over the map and have interesting backgrounds, educational levels, and career fields.
In total, there were just over 300 contestants. Of the 43 selected for training camp, several will not make it through the full summer of dance classes/routines. By the time the first Dallas Cowboys preseason game is played at AT&T Stadium in late August, the DCC squad will have approximately 36 members.
But what are the requirements for DCC auditions? View here for the criteria.
I think it’s important to note that there are no height or weight requirements. There is no maximum age. Heck, a few years ago we had a 55-year-old and a 62-year-old tryout. And there’s no gender requirement. So, in anticipation of your question….yes, we’ve had a man tryout! That was several years ago. He was actually a very good dancer (a professional dance instructor, if I remember correctly), but he may not have looked too good wearing the short-shorts of the official DCC uniform.
WHAT NOT TO DO:
For anyone planning to audition, I have a few recommendations. These are my own personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of other judges or the organization. But if I were auditioning I would do the following: cover any tattoos. And if you’re two-piece dance outfit doesn’t cover your tattoo, maybe it’s good to experiment with some flesh-colored makeup. You don’t want judges distracted by your tattoo.
Same thing with belly piercings or other types of body piercings. You want me to make notes about your excellent dance ability and your brilliant smile, not a piece of metal extended from a body part. Is your hair or makeup distracting? My recommendation would be to enhance your natural beauty, not try to make an impression with a crazy hairdo or over-the-top makeup.
And for goodness sake, when you introduce yourself to the judges, please spit out your gum. It’s really unbecoming.
Okay, now that we’ve dispensed some helpful advice, let’s talk about logistics.
Contestants take part in ‘free-style’ dance. That means nothing is choreographed. They can do whatever they want to do. Contestants come to the dance floor in groups of 5. Each of the 5 contestants will briefly introduce herself to the judges (name, age, hometown, job/school, etc.). Then a dance tune will be played for around 2 minutes. The girls won’t know which song will be played. There is a playlist of several dance songs which a deejay will use throughout the day, so nobody knows for sure which song will play for which group of contestants.
On our judges’ worksheets, we have the following criteria for Round 1:
*”BEAUTY” (do you think she’s pretty?)
*”APPEARANCE” (how do you think she’ll look in a DCC uniform? This criterion is more about body/figure while ‘beauty’ is more about her face)
*”SHOWMANSHIP” (do you enjoy watching her dance/perform, does she catch your eye?)
But for all those criteria, we merely jot down notes. There is only one thing that matters on our worksheet. In the final column of each worksheet, we write either “Yes”, “No”, or “Maybe”. It’s simple: “Yes”, I think she can be a DCC; “No”, I don’t see her making the squad”; or “Maybe”, I can’t make up my mind.
If a contestant gets enough “Yes” and/or “Maybe” votes, she’ll advance to Round 2 (SemiFinals) which includes choreography (a jazz combo with choreography that’s used by DCC throughout the football season) and a kick line. Usually just over 100 contestants get invited to Round 2 which will be held this year on Sunday, May 3rd, just one day after Round 1.
I look forward to sharing some highlights from Rounds 1 & 2 with you. Check back for updates the first week of May. There’s always something new & interesting that happens each year. I’ll also do a wrap-up following Round 3 (2015 DCC Finals) which are scheduled for May 9. It’s going to be another fun season so please come back for behind-the-scenes happenings. And GOOD LUCK to all of this year’s contestants!!!!