Chris Portley is currently in his second season 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.
After having formal training in singing, theater and dance, his passion for dance began to shine through near the beginning of his attending the University of North Texas. It was during his time at UNT that doors began to open for him in the dance world, coinciding with his driving to Dallas and taking classes at the Centre for Dance.
While taking classes at the Centre for Dance, he discovered that the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue Dancers were on the verge of becoming a coed team and several different people suggested that he should audition for the team.
Although he was relatively new to the dance community that features many people who have been performing since they learned how to walk, he dove in head first to the audition process and made the team for its inaugural season.
Chris was kind enough to join me following a recent game at AT&T Stadium to discuss his time with the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue Dancers and being awarded the prestigious ALBM award by director Jenny Durbin Smith.
JAY BETSILL:You are currently in your second season with the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue Dancers team. Let's go back to the beginning and talk about your rookie audition process to be a part of the team.
CHRIS PORTLEY: When I showed up to Dallas Cowboys headquarters at Valley Ranch for the auditions last year, I did not really know what to expect since it was the first process of its kind for an NFL team. It was a two-day audition on a Saturday and Sunday and on the first day, I think my nerves got to me. I knew that the next day I had to really show the judges how passionate I was about being a part of this team, so I spent the entire night going over the choreography we had learned in order to be completely prepared. I advanced to the next round and after getting through into training camp, my stomach was in knots as the further along we went, the more important it became to me to make this team and be a part of the history we were going to make.
JB: How did you feel when you found out that you had made it and you were officially a part of the Dallas Cowboys organization?
CP: On the last night of auditions, Jenny came in and gave us each an envelope saying they were notes from the judges. We were instructed to look over the notes and be prepared to perform again for the judges, but when I opened the envelope and began to read it, it turned out it was an acceptance letter welcoming me to the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue. It took me a moment to realize that I had actually made it. The entire thing was surreal and it wasn't really until the next day when it completely sank in. My dream was always to be a performer and it doesn't get any better than the rush of performing for thousands of Cowboys fans at AT&T Stadium.
JB: What was it like from your perspective to be a part of the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue during the historical inaugural season?
CP: I was well aware that we were making history as the first co-ed hip hop dance team in the NFL and I felt a responsibility to take ownership and do my part to make the team great. There was such a powerful dynamic in performing alongside these other talented individuals as we became one in the start of something really special.
JB: Was there any doubt in your mind about returning to audition for a second season?
CP: After last season was over, I knew that my time here was not over and that I still had things to accomplish. I set my goals to grow from my rookie year on how I could continue to challenge myself to improve. When the auditions arrived, I got a little anxious in not knowing who was going to come through the door, but I knew the talent was only going to grow from the first year with the amount of people that the Dallas Cowboys team and brand touches and inspires. I think the amount of talented performers we had at this year's auditions is a testament to what we have accomplished as a team and I was very honored to make the team for my second year.
JB: The Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue Dancers ALBM Award is a new addition to the team this year with it being awarded to the team member who does " A Little Bit More" to commit to make the team the very best that it can be. Criteria for the award includes being an example, being a lifeline of communication, praising others while being quietly confident and being loyal to the team's covenants of excellence. Following today's game, director Jenny Durbin Smith presented you the award in front of the whole team. Describe your emotions when you received the award.
CP: All I can really say is 'WOW.' I am always the ALBM drum roll guy so I got in position to congratulate whoever Jenny announced. When she started talking about text messages and I recognized that they were specifically texts of encouragement that I knew I had sent to one of my teammates letting them know that I was there for them to help them out, I actually got chills. It was very humbling and unexpected to get the ALBM award. I can be silly and goofy, but this was such an honor that I made sure that Jenny and my teammates knew how appreciative I really was, but on the inside, I was jumping up and down in celebration.
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