The quest to join the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue Dancers presented by Miller Lite, the NFL's first and only co-ed hip hop professional dance team in the NFL, began in April with the preliminary auditions inside the dance studio at Valley Ranch. For the first time in the squad's history, the girls and guys were trying out during the same audition process to make the team.
The candidates submitted their applications and registered prior to learning a short hip hop dance routine that they would later perform in front of the judging panel in groups of five. Following the final group, the callbacks were posted for those who would be returning the next morning for the semi final round.
The semi final candidates would learn a second dance routine and then perform both hip hop routines for the judges in groups of five. An additional aspect of the semi final round was the brief interview portion where the judges would ask questions and sometimes follow-up questions after they finished their routines. Once the final group exited the studio, the scores were tallied from the judges' ballots and the selections were announced for those who would be advancing to the final round.
"Each year the talent level and performance quality of the auditioning dancers intensifies," said Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue Director Jenny Durbin Smith. "This year really surpassed my expectations. The judges were given a phenomenal show but they definitely had the work cut out for them when narrowing the field for finals."
While the first two rounds were held at the friendly confines of the Dallas Cowboys team headquarters in front of a group of a dozen judges, the finals were not only open to the public, they were the featured entertainment at the Dallas Cowboys Draft Day Party at AT&T Stadium. Adding to the pressure for the candidates was the fact that they were also joined by the returning veterans from last season with the opportunity to perform at the Dallas Cowboys home games on the line.
On this all important evening, the dancers were given two opportunities to impress the judges panel. They had an initial run-through of the routines downstairs in the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm and Blue Dancers locker room before making their way upstairs to perform in the Miller Lite West Plaza.
The hosts for the party, Jeff K and Shaunda Poster, introduced the judges at 8:45 p.m. and the first of the six groups took the stage in front of an estimated 10,000 fans who packed the plaza to see who would be the newest addition to the NFC East champions' roster and get exclusive video of the Cowboys' Draft War Room on the huge screens displayed on either side of the stage. Shortly after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the Cowboys had selected Connecticut defensive back Byron Jone with their first round pick, the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue training camp candidates were revealed.
In the midst of the ecstatic celebration for those who had advanced to training camp was the bittersweet emotions of bidding farewell to those who did not hear their name called and had their dreams come to an end at the very venue they had hoped to be performing in during the upcoming NFL season.
Following an intense two-week long training camp, Durbin Smith made her final selections for the 2015 season.
"This season promises to be the Rhythm and Blue's strongest yet," Durbin Smith said. "The level of dynamics and talent on the team is unprecedented and Cowboys fans are in for a great show."
The 2015 Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue Dancers are Mateya Jackson, Christen Ancona, Jessica Stewart, Arianna Thompson, Sammi Paradice, Brittany Robinson, Melody Woodard, Amy Andrus, Chris Portley, Tasia Sapp, May Damali, Mirezha Guevara, Carlos Hernandez, Marcus Sophus and Brooke Wurzbach.
Fans can follow the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm and Blue Dancers on Twitter @DCRhythmBlue