Arianna Thompson is currently in her fourth year as 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.
Technically, Arianna began dancing as a baby with the help of her father. Officially, her dance career took off at age three when she started taking ballet, tap and jazz classes.
She was an all-around athlete in high school, participating in track, volleyball, basketball, tennis and cheerleading. In her junior year, she was the state champion in the 200 meters.
After hearing about the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue Dancers and the team's director Jenny Durbin Smith from one of her friends, Arianna auditioned for the team and made it in her first attempt.
Arianna was kind enough to join me following a recent game at AT&T Stadium to discuss her time with the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue Dancers and what she is looking forward to in her fourth season.
JAY BETSILL: Looking back on your rookie year, what is your most memorable moment?
ARIANNA THOMPSON: My first performance out on the stage in the plaza with thousands of Dallas Cowboys fans watching is something I will never forget. I was anxious, scared and excited and when they announced that it was time for us to go up on stage, I went over the choreography in my head for one last time. It was that moment with all of the fans looking at you and you realize that you are cheering on your favorite team in all of sports that you overcome the fear factor and it is simply the best feeling ever.
JB: Is there one thing in particular that you have picked up in your years with the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue Dancers that you would tell a rookie?
AT: Enjoy every second of the experience because it goes by really fast. When the first game comes, you are overcome with excitement and by the time the last game arrives, you are overcome with emotion as you have made so many memories and you come to the realization that it's all ending
JB: What is the biggest difference in the team from when you started to now?
AT: Actually there are several big things. The obvious is that prior to last season, we transformed to co-ed and where we used to be upstairs on the pods, we are now downstairs in the Miller Lite Club during the games. Also, from my first season to now, we get booked for more appearances, which translates into more people knowing about us and appreciating our work
JB: What is the most challenging part about being a Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue Dancer?
AT: Two things stand out for me:
First thing is time management is key as I begin each day at 5:15 a.m. with my full-time job as a personal trainer. Then around 9 a.m., I do my own workout (we all workout on our in addition to our practices) before I go to one of two schools where I teach regular tap, ballet, jazz and hip hop dance. I also own my own dance studio in North Arlington, so I spend a good amount of time there in the afternoons. We have team practice three nights a week and like I said earlier, we have been getting a lot of requests for appearances, some of which come at the last minute.
I also injured my ankle while we were dancing as a team at a convention in Arizona. My pain tolerance is pretty high and I thought it was a sprain, but it turned out that I tore three ligaments in my ankle. Surprisingly, I didn't get put in a boot so I have been wearing an ankle brace.
JB: As a tenured member of the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue Dancers, talk about the first game of this season, the Cowboys last minute 27-26 comeback victory over the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football and your experience that day.AT: Going into my fourth season, I know the ins and outs of game days, but I also know that first moment when we take the stage and the thrill and excitement is something you can't replicate. While I am still getting the opportunity to live my dream, it is also amazing to see the joy of the rookies and help them be the best they can be. As for the game itself, it is one of the best games I have seen and I was definitely hoarse the next day from screaming and cheering on the Cowboys.**
JB: You mentioned helping the rookies, what is an example of how you make their time on the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue Dancers easier.
AT: Each year is a little different with taking rookies under your wing. I am the oldest on the team and I am a real "people person,'so I watch their faces and mannerisms and if someone needs me, I am there for them. Being a part of this team can be challenging, stressful and tiring as we strive to be the very best at what we do. You're going to be pushed to your limit, but as a team, we all come together and have bonding sessions where we talk about our feelings and share good news going on in our personal lives. This helps us all get to know each other better and as we open up, we all gain a greater appreciation for one another.
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