There is no doubt that we have seen a lot of girls come and go on this campus with the desire to dance for a professional team. Whether it’s to rock a stadium for a NFL game or to mesmerize a crowd at a NBA arena, five Grambling Alumni made this dream a reality. In the past three years, former members of the Orchesis Dance Company have taken over the dance world for some major sport teams, transferring their dancing abilities from Eddie Robinson Stadium to the limelight. Kicking things off is Grambling native, Nicole Norman. This 26-year-old began her career after graduating in the spring of 2005 and headed to “The Big Easy” to join the New Orleans Saints Saintsations for the 2005-2006 season. After only dancing for a year with the team, Norman realized that maybe she wanted something a little different. Thus, she switched gears and set her sights on the New Orleans Hornets Honeybees, where she has danced for the past two years.
Norman openly admits to enjoying the NBA better. “SORRY TASHA,” she says candidly.
The Tasha that Nicole refers to is, LaTasha Gray, also a Grambling native. This 25-year-old packed her bags after earning her B.S. in Accounting/Marketing, and moved to Florida. Here Gray auditioned for the NFL Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders. Like, Norman she made the team after a hard week of learning routines, going through an interview process and maintaining a positive attitude.
While at GSU, Tasha was known for doing just that, keeping her body physically fit and sporting some pretty tight abs. So it was not surprising that she continues to work out, setting aside at least an hour a day, not including attending practice three to four times a week.
Though Norman and Gray are veterans in the dance atmosphere, some are just getting started.
Amber Browning, for instance, is a 22-year-old from Sacramento, Calif. who decided to continue her education and dancing dream all the way to Memphis, Tenn. After auditioning in Mississippi as a finalist, Amber was shocked when her name was the first to be called to join NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies Grizz Girls. This former Valley High School Varsity Cheerleader danced for ODC for the entire four years and served as Captain for the 2006-2007 year.
“ODC saved my life,” Amber exclaims during the interview when asked about how college dancing has prepared her, “Performing as an Orchesis gave me the stamina, charisma, and confidence that I needed to show my dance capabilities as an individual and all of the technique I learned prepared me beyond words.”
After her first year, Amber plans to audition for the next season and finish out her last year in grad school. But this may not be the path for her fellow rookie Kourtni.
Kourtni Mason, is a spending her first year dancing in Atlanta for the Atlanta Hawks “A-Town Dancers.” The 22-year-old former Dandylion from Monroe decided to trade in her jazz shoes for Sketchers and Phillips Arena. After a very demanding week of auditions last summer, Kourtni was chosen to be a part of the team. Being a captain the previous year for ODC and helping with the choreography truly made her an asset to the “A-Town Dancers”.
During her first year, which is still going due to her team being in the NBA Playoffs, Mason has done so much. From swimsuit photo shoots, traveling to Mexico and dancing, to even partaking in “Under the Lights: The Making of the A-Town Dancer Calendar” which aired on television, Kourtni has most definitely enjoyed the experience. Unfortunately, whether she will be returning for next season’s roster depends on her academic endeavors.
“At this point I’m not sure.,” when asked about auditioning again this summer, “. because I may be attending law school in the Fall and it will be too demanding to do both.
Indeed ODC has produced some talented girls for the NBA and NFL, but one Gramblinite has set her sights on something more local.
Teshia Lincoln, born and raised in Shreveport, made her way down I-20 to audition for Shreveport Bossier Battlewings Dancers. This Arena Football League team starts roughly in the early part of Spring, allowing Lincoln, who is currently attending graduate school here at Grambling, to attend practices in her hometown.
“There are no words to explain how ODC helped me,” says Teshia about her 4 _ years with ODC, “Not only was I challenged everyday, I was trained in techniques other than hip-hop which definitely set me apart from the rest. This is all thanks to Dianne Maroney-Grigsby.”
Unfortunately, due to getting sick during the season, Lincoln has just now been able to get out there and show the crowd what she has to offer. But she already knows that this will most likely be her first and last season with the team. She is setting her sights on moving to a new location, therefore leaving her open for trying out for another team.
All of these young ladies have proven to have that “it-factor” needed to be apart of the professional dance world. Setting them aside from competition and putting them straight to the top. We know that this is only the beginning for some, maybe the end for others, but they can beyond a doubt take this great experience and cherish it forever.
Grambling has shaped some great dancers and you never know who you may see next season.