Had the honor last Saturday of being a guest judge for the 2010-11 Golden Dazzlers auditions and it was a very entertaining and unique experience where I even ended up making a nomination for 2010-11 Dazzlers captain. More on that later.
When I arrived at U.S. Century Bank Arena last Saturday morning I was greeted by this year's lovely Dazzler captain Vanessa (left) -- Sports Illustrated.com Cheerleader of the Week last October -- who informed me to go meet the other judges in a classroom on the south side of the arena.
In room 117, I met the four other judges: the Dazzlers coach (who happens to be a former Dazzler) and 3 other former Dazzlers -- one who is currently a Miami Dolphins cheerleader. No, it was not Kelly who sent her photo to the GPP earlier this year and was posted on a February blog. Instead, it was another former Dazzler, who is also now a Dolphins cheerleader and has a sister -- another former Dazzler -- who is currently a Miami Heat dancer. [For audition purposes, the judges names will not be mentioned].
However, to keep track of the 4 judges on this post, we'll use nicknames: Daz coach [for the Dazzlers coach], Dolphin [for Dolphins cheerleader], Pilates [for judge who does pilates] and Simona Cowell [for the judge who said she is tough with her scores].
Talking to Dolphin, she mentioned something to me that stuck in my mind as I judged the auditions later that afternoon. She said that after going through four years of Dazzlers training, the process to become a Dolphins cheerleader was NOT overwhelming. Daz coach runs a detailed, tough program.
Daz coach explained to me that since I didn't know any of the Dazzlers dance moves -- which is completely true -- that I would only judge the ladies in 2 categories: 1) Overall appearance and 2) Energy and Performance quality. Such as Stephanie's (right) dance energy was a 10 out of 10 score.
My scores would count as a maximum of 20 bonus points per auditioner. The scores that I could hand out for the two categories ranged from 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest mark.
The other judges would give scores for 9 different dance categories in addition to the 2 categories I was scoring.
Was also informed by the ladies that after we judged all of the auditioners, we would reconvene in room 117 to go over the choices for the 24 Golden Dazzlers that would make up the 2010-11 Dazzlers dance team.
At Saturday's audition, 43 ladies tried out -- including members from last year's team because as Daz coach put it you have to earn your spot on the team each year. See what I mean about running a detailed, tough program.
Four other ladies tried out last Wednesday, because they could not make the Saturday audition. In that group of 4 were the twins (Alex and Michelle, left), who were also honored as SI.com's Cheerleaders of the Week this past season. They made the 2010-11 team -- if they didn't I would have launched an investigation.
It was now time to go to center court at the Bank where the judges' table stood. The Daz coach sat in the middle and began the process. I was seated next to Simona Cowell.
Vanessa, who graduated from FIU this past semester, was in charge of leading the prospective Dazzlers in a routine that they had to learn for the audition. Winnie (right) learned it just fine and had a dazzling performance.
By the way, Vanessa will be trying out for the Miami Dolphins cheerleading squad next year. Just give her the aqua and orange already.
Back to the routine the ladies had to learn. I counted that this particular dance consisted of 24 different parts. I'm not sure how the heck these ladies learned the 24 parts in such a short period of time, but they did. Now I consider myself pretty good with memory things, but I couldn't remember those 24 moves in a time span of 15 minutes like these ladies had to.
All I remember from the routine -- besides the same song played over and over again "Sweat" by Casely -- was the hair turn move such as Sara (left) flawlessly executed on Saturday.
After the dance routine was taught by Vanessa -- who would be a first-ballot inductee into the Dazzlers Hall of Fame that I am proposing be added inside the future FIU Alumni Center on the east side of FIU Stadium -- the ladies were ready to perform the memorized dance and then show off the additional 9 dance moves for the judges.
These 9 dance moves looked very difficult to do. Among the moves: Leg hold & Tilt -- where you hold your leg up in the air and tilt your body -- ouch!! However, Christina (right), a rookie, made it look real easy.
There was the Toe Touch -- where you jump in the air and touch both your toes. And another was the A La Second turns -- where the ladies make two turns on each side. Got dizzy just looking at that. Another rookie Christina (below, left) didn't have a problem with the A La Seconds.
After the process was over, each judge grabbed the microphone and introduced herself or in my case -- himself -- and gave a little speech to the ladies. One of the things I mentioned to the ladies was that I could never do any of the moves they performed, nor could I learn 24 moves for a dance routine in just 15 minutes. I also told them that they were to be commended for coming out and auditioning.
Simona was true to form handing out 2s, 3s and 4s as I looked at her scoresheet. But to her credit, she did have some 8s and 9s as well when she thought one of the girls deserved the score.
Simona says her scoring system is tough love. By the way, she got a kick out of being nicknamed Simona Cowell.
Although I won't list here every score I handed out, I will tell you that I gave many 8s, 9s and 10s. The lowest score I gave out was a 5 for energy.
However only one auditioner received perfect 10s from me and that is my nomination for 2010-2011 Dazzlers captain. The GPP endorses Amanda (below, right) for Golden Dazzlers captain this year. I'm Pete Pelegrin and I approve this message.
At the end of the day, 24 Dazzlers [12 veterans and 12 rookies] made the first cut among the 47 that auditioned [Wed. & Sat.]. The team has one more cut at the end of July when they take the Dazzlers's poster photo. That's when the final cut is made. Was told if you are in the poster, then you made the team.
During the summer, Daz coach and the team vote on team leaders -- who are the candidates to be captain of the squad in the upcoming season. The captain will be chosen right before the 2010-11 FIU sports season starts.
Among the 24 Dazzlers: there are 3 Christinas, 2 Stephanies, 2 Saras, 2 Jennifers, and there are some interesting names in the group such as: Akyla, Madonna and Fancesca
Had a ton of fun going through the process and I would like to thank the Dazzlers for the invitation, Daz coach and the 3 other former Dazzlers/judges for their insight into the auditions and of course to all the Dazzlers auditioners for their hard work and memorization skills.
Here is the current team photo (below) -- minus the twins who were not there for this photo on Saturday.
All Dazzlers audition photos taken by official Dazzlers photographer Alex J. Hernandez