“Team Building” will never be the same.
When COVID-19 arrived in the US in early 2020, the pandemic nearly canceled the season of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. In an effort to keep the legendary program on track, the director of DCC, Kelli Finglass and the staff – from CMT’s “DCC: Making a Team” – experimented with software so that dancers from all over the country can audition virtually.
“We’re developing a robust audition app platform that allows people to start auditioning from their homes,” Finglass told The Post — confirming DCC will go ahead with the new virtual audition process that fans were first introduced to last season.
Season 15 also saw DCC’s first Summer Training Camp inside the “bubble,” with the most veteran cut in the show’s history, as a result of COVID-19. Now, the show will return to the turf at AT&T Stadium in the Season 16 premiere on Friday at 9/8c on CMT.
Because DCC auditions are now partially virtual, dancers can record their initial performance from anywhere, to submit online.
“[Candidates] dance in front of houses, fire stations, empty school buildings, in backyards – that’s where you see them first, in their hometowns. I’ve even met some parents of girls who have tried!” said Finglass.
After dancers apply online, the initial part is a multi-step audition process – followed by semi-finals, personal interviews, written tests and a final talent audition for selected candidates. The DCC Training Camp Candidates are selected from the participants in the final.
In Season 16, more than 600 candidates submitted online audition tapes for Finglass critics, which marked the largest training camp the program had ever held. Judy Trammel, longtime DCC head choreographer, returns this season, along with former DCC and current showmanship mentor Melissa Rycroft-Strickland (“Bachelor” nation star and “Dancing with the Stars” winner).
“The ladies from this season  came from 45 different states, and you can see one or two from [New York],” said Finglass. “We even had Broadway dancers and the Rockettes try out when they couldn’t dance in New York [because of the pandemic].”
Founded in the 1960s, DCC is one of the most iconic and well-known cheerleading programs in the NFL, as well as dance sports. Finglass was a DCC from 1984-1989. He took over as director in 1991.
DCC is considered the most difficult NFL cheer squad to make. Veteran squad members must re-audition each year. Finglass is the first cheerleader in DCC history to not have to re-audition as she was automatically re-selected for the fifth season.
“Very talented technical dancers come out whether they’re live or on video – that’s what I’m sure of,” Finglass said of whether or not it’s more challenging to judge practically. “We can see the technique. We also have them do interviews, if you will, and we hear them speak.
Throughout the process this season, 25 rookies were selected to battle it out at training camp in Dallas against 26 returning DCC veterans. And while Finglass said each individual “has his own recipe for success,” – weak high-kick, not for animation, failure to progress after feedback, shaky technique and lack of confidence is a recipe for elimination.
“First and foremost, [applicants] must be trained dancers or have great showmanship as performers. Our squad is an elite group of dancers and no one passes that…” said Finglass.
“As far as conditioning goes, the game is three solid hours nonstop. We have about 150 pieces of music that play throughout the game and the girls dance to every one of them.
Once the dancers have achieved DCC status, they must uphold the program’s standards.
“We have a sponsor, Busy Body Prep, who provides food for the girls, but they’re all fitness enthusiasts before they get to us… tips]. They also volunteer to take kickboxing classes, yoga, pilates — they do it all,” Finglass said. .
When it comes to the “look” of the modern DCC, Finglass said the “biggest thing” is for the squad to look diverse.
“These women are all so beautiful in different ways. Different skin tones and hair textures. We’ve had a lot of textured curls coming back. We’ve had people get extensions and braid their hair and I love that, especially this year. Some of the girls are tall. , there are small ones, their beauty is really unique,” he said.
While there are still certain health and safety protocols for stadiums and in the NFL, Finglass said that “this season, there’s an incredible new energy.”
“We navigated last season. This season will be exciting, because we have fans at full capacity and we’re back on the field… It’s a sense of camaraderie again, and being on the team bus again, in the locker room, so having a team meal together. There’s just a sweetness that we will never take for granted.
“Sweet season 16 – I love it,” said Finglass, who served as an executive producer on the show.
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Vonciel Baker still holds the record for most years on the squad. This may interest you : My Reason My Cleats 2021 | Lerentee McCray. The story in this article was featured in episode one of our American Girls podcast.
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- From Gabaldon. Years on the squad: 2000-2001.
- Amy Reese. Years on the squad: 2008-2009.
- Brittany Evans. Years on the squad: 2008-2011.
- Gina Licare. Years in squad: 1998.
- Jordan Chanley. …
- Starr Spangler. …
- Tavia (Chatham) Morris. …
- Olivia Stevanovski.
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