More than 500 women lined up outside AT&T Stadium in Arlington early Saturday to take their shot at becoming a member of the 2017 Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Among the crowd of hopefuls, there was a mother and daughter, two sets of sisters and two daughters of former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
They all came to participate in an audition process unlike any other in pro sports.
The first weekend, there are two rounds (prelims and semis), followed by next week’s panel interviews and finals. Then comes a roughly two-month training camp before the team is officially announced.
CMT cameras capture all the action and drama for Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team, the network’s longest running original non-music series, which is entering its 12th season (debuts on Aug. 3).
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The select few who make the DCC will end up representing the most valuable sports franchise in the world -- not only on the sidelines, but in the community, at charity events and around the world.
The ladies trying out last weekend ranged in age from 18 to 56, and came from 34 states and internationally. The hopefuls also included women who had been cheerleaders for nine different NFL teams, as well as some who danced for NBA and NHL squads.
Emily was a member of the Dallas Mavericks Dancers for six seasons and retired to teach dance and be an assistant director for a drill team at a high school in Frisco. She got the bug to tryout for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders after last season’s NFC playoff game, when the Cowboys hosted the Green Bay Packers.
During halftime, the Cowboys Cheerleaders were part of a hip-hop performance and Emily was among a small group of local dancers chosen to be a part of the production.
“I had never performed on a football field before and it was just awesome,” she said. “The fans were amazing, it was so electric inside the stadium and that sparked my interest in wanting to audition to be a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader.”
And how does this audition compare to the Dallas Mavericks Dancers tryouts?
“Being here today is actually a little nerve-racking,” Emily said. “The biggest differences are the TV cameras being everywhere and AT&T Stadium is so massive. But in the end, it is still a dance team audition and we all have to give it our best. After being on the Mavs and being confident and familiar with how things went at those auditions, this process is very new to me, so I’m trying to take in every moment.”
Saturday’s preliminary round featured the contestants in groups of five performing a freestyle routine for the judges panel, which included DCC Director Kelli Finglass, DCC Choreographer Judy Trammell, Dallas Cowboys Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Officer Charlotte Jones Anderson, Jay Johnson (Official Trainer of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders) and former cheerleader and past Dancing with the Stars champion Melissa Rycroft-Strickland.
Following Saturday’s cut, which eliminated about half of the contenders, the semifinalists returned to the stadium Sunday morning, where they were taught a choreographed routine on the field and the iconic DCC kickline by Trammell and former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Jennifer, Jacie and Kinzie.
The ladies returned back upstairs to perform the routine and kickline for the judges and following a long deliberation, Finglass and Trammell returned to announce the 50 or 60 dancers who would be advancing to the final round, where they will also compete with 28 returning veterans from the DCC squad for about 36 spots on the 2017 team.
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The finals include panel interviews Friday, a solo peformance Saturday morning and performing the choreography and kickline on the field Saturday afternoon.
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