PRO TIP: NBA Dance Team Auditions
By Shonna Chiles
Hi! My name is Shonna Chiles, and I’m the founder of ConfiDance Fitness and a former NBA dancer for both the Oklahoma City Thunder and the 2017 NBA Champion Golden State Warriors dance teams. I was with each organization for two years and have also done work for the NFL Super Bowl Committee.
The Practice, Experience, & Inspiration.
I was born in California but grew up in Moore, Oklahoma. I trained competitively in a dance studio from the time I was three years old until I was eighteen. I auditioned for my first team out of high school. I had an awesome career in professional sports dancing and was fortunate to have really cool experiences from being in movies to dancing with recording artists. After retiring from NBA dance, I started my own dance instruction business ConfiDance Fitness.
I have always wanted to do NBA dance. I love the energy behind basketball. It’s a fast paced and exciting sport. I first saw the Laker Girls perform when I was 8 years and was in awe of them. I remember telling my mom after that game that I was going to do that one day. My initial plan was to move back to California right away after high school and audition for teams here, but that was a scary reality for an 18-year-old who grew up in the midwest. The Oklahoma City Thunder moved to town, following Hurricane Katrina and our test run with the Hornets, and it gave me an opportunity to take a leap toward my NBA dreams while staying close to my family.
My inspiration never left after that Lakers game. I had an older friend and mentor who was dancing for the Thunder at the time. She encouraged me to try out and helped me through the audition process.
The Application Process
Typically, teams will post all of the audition information online. You have to fill out an application and submit a resume, just like any other job, before the audition. You bring a headshot with to the audition or submit it beforehand as well. The best piece of advice I can give to aspiring dancers is to check and see if the organization you are interested in will be offering dance clinics before auditions. These clinics are a great opportunity to gauge a team’s dance style and get helpful feedback from coaching staff prior to the audition.
The Audition Process
The audition process is many steps before a team is selected. You have to submit a resume and fill out an application. You have to physically attend the audition and make it through around 6-8 hours of dancing and selection rounds until the organization decides on a group of finalists. From there, you have an interview with the organization and go through a week of rehearsals before you have your final audition. The team is usually selected and announced 24 to 48 hours after the final audition. The audition process in whole is around a week long and some teams do a longer “training camp” before selecting the team. Every team member, new or old, has to re-audition each season.
list of Do’s and Don’t list For The audition.
Preparing for audition day is crucial to your success. There is a lot more that goes into preparing than most people know. Below are some tips to help your process go more smoothly:
- Bring water and snacks, it will be a long day.
- Bring an extra audition costume and tights, just in case.
- Bring the essentials that you need to touch up your look at auditions. (hairspray, safety pins, bobby pins, lipstick, false eyelashes, etc.)
- Don’t be nervous! Leave your nerves at home, bring your confidence, and have fun. No matter how the day goes, you should be proud of yourself for attending the audition and pushing yourself as a dancer.
The Physical Fitness
Endurance is the most important part of NBA dance. You are in rehearsals for 2-4 hours multiple times a week. During a game, there will be times when you have to dance for extended periods, for example, if there is a nationally televised game with longer commercials during timeouts. Running, circuit training, and any fitness regimen that focuses on building endurance will help immensely. Additionally, you have to take care of yourself. Sleep, nourishing foods, and self-care are very important.
Don’t be afraid to go to the dance clinics, as mentioned above. Be sure to ask the coaching staff and veteran team members for feedback. Also, with social media today, use it to your advantage to reach out to former dancers and ask for help. Many dancers train auditionees privately.
There isn’t a “lifehack” to achieving your successes and we all define success as something different. But, I think with hard work and a positive mindset you can accomplish anything. I always tell my students that confidence is half the battle. If you find yourself in need of preparation and a #confidanceboost, you can always come see me at a ConfiDance Fitness class.
Come hang out with me and other professional dancers at ConfiDANCE Fitness, we host weekly classes for everyone on Verlocal! If you’re going into auditions this summer and interested in group training, or one-on-one training feel free to contact me, I’ve been there and I’d love to help!