Early Saturday morning some 100 hopeful women embarked on their journey toward Utah’s biggest stage for dancing: becoming a Utah Jazz Dancer. All the while, the Jazz Dancers’ coaches and organizational staff embarked on their own journey—a hip-hop one.
The auditions took place at the Zions Basketball Center in Salt Lake City. Normally home to practices for the Utah Jazz basketball team, the center saw the usual amount of stretching and Nike footwear, but a whole hell of a lot more sparkles, make-up and Lululemon.
A single, long plastic table separated dancers from audition judges. On either side, the desire to remake the troupe’s image was the same.
“If you have ever been to a Jazz game before, you’ve noticed the Jazz dancers are pretty comparable to other teams,” Utah Jazz Director of Game Operations Carly Robbins, said. “They all have the same format, the same look and the same dance. We just want to be different.”
To that end, Robbins and the rest of the organizational staff are attempting to make this year’s Jazz Dancers an unmistakably hip-hop team. Fans, however, will have to wait for the coming season to see if this translates to the team performing numbers to the likes of Drake, Future or Kendrick Lamar. Maybe they’ll even delve into a few trap tracks by the trap-lord himself, A$AP Ferg, or match indiscernible dance moves with Young Thug’s lyrics.
Still, one thing is certain, Robbins said, the new direction will ratchet up excitement at games.
“We want the girls to be known for a ‘holy-crap-that-was-cool' sort of thing,” Robbins said. “I think a lot of times when you have a team that might struggle with winning games, you need to be able to entertain people in other ways. We want people to be wowed by our entertainment.”
A new image for the Jazz Dancers requires new choreography and a batch of new girls who fit the dance style. Each was present Saturday.