The first round of 2015 Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders auditions took place Saturday, May 2nd at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Of the 300+ hopefuls for this year’s squad, only 132 survived Prelims and were invited to the Round 2 Semifinals.

This was my 14th season to judge auditions, and I have learned that all of these America’s Sweetheart potentials have two things in common: they are talented AND brave!

It takes self-confidence to audition. Contenders begin this process in front of hundreds of other contestants and judges.  And there will be millions watching this fall when the CMT show, “Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Squad” airs.

Round 1 Recap, Part 1:

R1 consisted of women from five different countries (Japan, Colombia, Taiwan, Mexico, and Canada) and 32 different states. Nine were members of cheerleading squads of other NFL teams, while another nine were members of NBA dance teams. Other candidate professions range from competitive ballroom dancer to monster truck driver and pediatric oncology nurse. Even a member of the US National Rhythmic Gymnastics Team. Think all cheerleader candidates are in college? Think again! One candidate was a 44 year old pharmacist who is a mother of two children. There was also a 41 year old mother of three who is a nurse. As for the 18 year olds, one of them lived in nearby Garland, Texas and had her senior prom that very evening!

R1 is ‘Freestyle Dance’ which means there is no choreography. The contestants are called in groups of 5, and each contestant introduces herself to the judges. Music is played for 90 seconds and they freestyle dance to song selections made by a DJ. This year’s songs in R1 included “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars, “That’s What I Like” by Flo Rida, “Watch Me Work” by Melanie Fiona, “Burning Up” by Jessie J, “Celebrate” by Pitbull, and “Go All Night” by Gorgon City.

FUN FACTS about R1:

* Wardrobe malfunction! - In the middle of a dance, one of the contestants lost a hair extension. It just fell to the floor. Not a big deal. In fact, not all the judges saw it fall off her head. But this definitely gives me one more tidbit to add to the list I’ve compiled over the past 14 years. The list is called “A Judge’s Handy Dandy List of Advice for Contestants.” It contains such nuggets as: Don’t Wear a Tube Top, Spit Out Your Chewing Gum, Remove Body Piercings and Belly Rings, and Cover Your Tattoos with Flesh-Colored Makeup. So now my list must be updated to include:  “secure all hair extensions.”

*Mileage award:  Two sisters flew in from Osaka, Japan (27 and 31 years old) to audition. The eldest sister is a cheerleading coach in Osaka. Both were excellent dancers and advanced easily to R2.

* Two ‘princesses’ - A contestant (who now lives in Dallas and teaches in DISD) is of African descent and says her grandmother was a Nigerian princess. Another candidate said that she once ‘worked at Disney World’ as a princess character.

* Other interesting contestants include a former wide receiver/safety from a women’s professional football team AND a black belt in karate.

Please stay tuned for R1, Part 2 tomorrow for more fun facts about the R1 auditions for America’s Sweethearts. And watch for R2 posting later this week. And, of course, we’ll have a wrap-up following the Final Round which is next weekend (May 9, 2015).