The journey to be a member of 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 and semi-final auditions inside the dance studio at Valley Ranch.
For the dancers who advanced beyond the opening weekend at Valley Ranch, the finals at AT&T Stadium awaited them. 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 and thousands of Cowboys fans were on hand for the big event.
"Every year, the competition to make the team gets tougher because the people who come in to auditions are so powerful," said four-year veteran dancer Sammi. "I think that we have started to gain traction so there are a lot of people that want to join our team."
After performing in groups of five for the judges panel down in the locker room and again on stage in front of the big crowd, the hosts for the evening, Jeff K and Shaunda Poster, announced the names of those who would be advancing to the DCRB training camp.
The three-week training camp got underway the first week of June and took place on Monday, Tuesday and Friday evenings at Centre for Dance in Plano. The nights would begin at between 6 and 7:45 p.m. and go until Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue Director Jenny Durbin Smith said it was over. Most training camp sessions would last roughly three hours, but there was one evening where they were there until 1 a.m.[embeddedad0]
"This year's training camp was more intense than ever," Sammi continued. "Because the competition was so tough, Jenny really had to push us to our limits in order to narrow down who would in fact be on the team."
The dancers would learn two new routines on Monday and Tuesday nights and then perform them on Friday nights with a new panel of judges each week. Individual panel interviews conducted by Jenny Durbin Smith and Dallas Cowboys marketing team also took place during the training camp to identify the perfect individuals to represent the brand. With the talent level so high, there was not multiple cuts this year, rather one final cut through individual emails sent to each dancer to inform them they had not made the team for the upcoming NFL season.
The dancers who did not receive an email were actually surprised when they returned for what they thought would be the final rehearsal for training camp only to discover that they had indeed made the team.
The 2016-17 Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue Dancers are Jessica Stewart, Arianna Thompson, Sammi Paradice, Tasia Sapp, Mirezha Guevara, Carlos Hernandez, Marcus Sophus, Brooke Wurzbach, Cassidy Hale, Leti Hinojosa, Monique Lane, Donald Love, Paulina Nieto, Kasey Phillips, Whitney Ricketts, Jeremy Saxton and Deanna Wood.