It’s 6:50 in the morning when the doors to AT&T Stadium. Phil Whitfield, Stadium ambassador greets the scores of girls ready to dance for a spot as a coveted Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
“I’ve got one question,” he poses to the hopefuls. “Are you ready?”
Oh Phil, you have no idea. These ladies are some of the best and brightest, and they are ready to bring it in a big way.
“There’s a lot of pretty girls here today,” one auditioner remarks. “A lot of competition.”
We do not envy director Kelli Finglass, Choreographer Judy Trammell, Melissa Rycroft, Neal McCoy, trainer Jay Johnson, and the other judges whatsoever. Whew!
New guest judge Charm La Donna choreographer and creative director joins the panel from L.A. this year. She’s danced with Madonna and choreographed for Meghan Trainor. “I get to live out my own little dream of being a DCC myself,” she said. Us, too, honey. Well, when we watch at home with wine.
Theirs is one tough job this year as Finglass reveals that this audition cycle marks the highest returning class of veterans ever, with nearly 30 reauditioning. Plus a ton of professional dancers from the Dallas Mavericks’ squad, and other teams in the NFL, NBA, and NHL.
But about the new faces: first, we meet Kat, a gorgeous and vivacious 25-year-old North Carolina native. At the age of 19, she became a “Honey Bee” for the Charlotte Hornets’ dance team. She grew up with a bright spirit and will to overcome racial discrimination in her community and school and soar. “You don’t have to succumb to the environment you grew up in,” she wisely stated.
The second hopeful we meet is the effervescent Amanda, a small-town New Jersey girl with big dreams who moved to L.A. and nearly saw a TV dance job come to life, only to watch it fade away. Tragically, she lost her baby brother at age three, a loss that changed her life forever. “He’s my driving force, he’s the reason I do everything I do,” she said. There’s something special about Amanda that catches the judges’ eyes. Her perseverance and dazzling light make her one to watch for sure.
Julia, a top market traffic reporter who danced for the Dallas Mavericks, was also featured tonight. She’s taking time off from her big market job to chase her dream, so you know she means business.
Keyna, a 41 former San Diego Chargers cheerleader and 2004 DCC finalist returns in grand fashion–after 15 years. “Life” happened to the dancer, she said. She met her hubs had two kids and got a PhD. Yes, you did, girl, yes! Her dad’s advice? “If you have it, use it. Cause you never know when you’re not gonna have it anymore.” That’s advice we’re taking, too.
Gina Marie is just 18 years old and just weeks away from graduating from high school. She dazzled the judges with her bright aura and smile and looks very promising as one of the youngest to audition. Why does she dance? “It’s more than a stress reliever—it’s soul therapy.”
So about the returning dancers that stood out this year: Meredith, Lily, Taylor, Kristin, Malena, and Victoria were all back and ready to show out. As Finglass remarked, “It takes a lot of courage to do this,” meaning come back and re-audition after being cut the previous year.
And we can’t not mention the, well… questionable auditions. “It was a lot happening… so yeah,” according to Charm. And we’re just gonna leave it at that, bless their hearts.
Overall, it was a tough first day.
“We raise the bar of excellence every year. They just get better and better every year. Some of the girls I could see in a uniform tomorrow,” Judy admitted.
So who were those early frontrunners? Kat and Amanda for sure, and we can’t wait to see who else made it through to day two. Tune in next Friday, Aug. 9 at 9 PM ET/8 CT for an all-new Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team on CMT.