rockets-smallWelcome to Houston - Final Four City

The Rockets Power Dancers are a team of performers to be reckoned with. They are a diverse group of girls with different professions, qualities, ages, ethnicities, talents, schedules and strengths.

Wikipedia defines the word team as a group of people linked by a common purpose. I guess when you think of all the differences between the Rockets Power Dancers, you start to wonder how they can actually be considered a team. It’s actually a pretty simple answer. At the end of their long days, they all meet and share one common thread… their love of dance.

Dance is the one factor that brings together 22 girls. My name is Carrie Kaufman and I’m a Rockets Power Dancer. My journey with the Houston Rockets began in July 2009 when I auditioned with approximately 300 girls. We went through three rounds of dances, all consisting of various styles and elements. One jazz, one technical and one hip-hop dance to Usher’s summer hit, “OMG.”

OMG was exactly the idea. At the end of round three, the finalists were selected to return the following day for practice and interviews. OMG… I was a finalist.

We went through two weeks of auditions. We learned dances, showcased our technique and polished the dances that we learned from rounds one and three. On the final night, everyone performed at the House of Blues in front of fans… and then, the team was announced.

As I walked on the stage to receive my pom-poms from Clutch, the Rockets mascot, the words to the song I had just performed had never been so real. I believe that the older you get, the more songs and lyrics relate to your life. The song “OMG” could not have related more. “OMG! I’m really a Rockets Power Dancer! O-My-Gosh!” Usher took the words right out of my mouth.

I’m sure you’re wondering what else I do other than dance at Houston Rockets home games. What’s my day job? Or do I sit around all day watching Oprah and eating Cheetos? Absolutely not. By day, I’m a public relations analyst at a law firm in Houston. I received my BA in journalism from the University of North Texas.

By night, I make a miraculous transformation into a Rockets Power Dancer! Well, it’s not really that dramatic but it’s definitely fun to be able to let loose and just dance. It’s fun to trade my three inch pumps for dance sneakers and unleash the dancing diva.

Dancing, of course, is my second job. It’s considered a part-time gig; however, I believe that my teammates will agree with me in that it is more like a full-time one. Our schedule is very hectic because we practice a couple of times a week and perform at every home game. Add that to a full day of work or school and you have 22 very busy women. When the basketball team is traveling, we are practicing.

14 girls perform at each game, leaving 4 girls to meet and greet during the game and giving four a break with a night off. It’s a rotation schedule that works to keep everyone healthy and rested.

In addition to performing at the games, the RPD also appear at over 200 events in the community each season. We not only dance, but meet and greet fans, sign autographs, take photographs, teach routines and speak to groups. Next time you’re at an event and a Power Dancer is there, come see how easy we are to talk to. You’ll quickly realize that we’re the most down-to-earth, phenomenal women representing the Houston Rockets organization and the Houston community.

Our coach, Susie Boudwin, is a former RPD herself. She danced for six seasons with the Houston Rockets before becoming the organization’s in-arena host and dance team coach and choreographer in 2005. “It’s an honor to lead such an outstanding group of women,” says Susie. “It’s a true ‘all-star’ team and elite performance group.  Being a Rockets Power Dancer is a once in a lifetime opportunity and not only do the dancers love performing together on the Toyota Center court, they also make life-long friendships with their fellow teammates.”

It’s funny to imagine working multiple jobs, and actually enjoying both, or least one. It’s a theory that most would say is impossible. Each dancer is required to be a full-time student or have a full-time job. So contrary to popular belief, the beautiful women that you see on the court are not bimbos or sex symbols. We demonstrate beauty AND brains. We are educated, motivated, professional, confident, talented, physically fit, gorgeous women who, coincidently, know how to dance extraordinarily well.

Don’t believe me? See for yourself.

Meet Alysse. She’s a rookie from Humble, TX. She’s also a Business Management major who speaks Spanish fluently.

Amanda, a second year veteran, is a dance program director at a children’s fitness center. She received her BA in Dance from Sam Houston State University. Her ultimate goal is to be sure she’s lived life to the fullest, dancing and traveling every opportunity that she can. “I guess I’ll take life as it comes!” she says.

Amber, a rookie from Texas City is a full-time student at the University of Houston Clear Lake. She’s working on her BS in Human and Fitness Performance.

An, a four-year veteran, is a student at Lonestar College. She plans to work in the medical field after graduation. Currently, she works in the student/guest Relations team at a medical spa.

Brittany is an assistant manager in the retail industry. She’s a Psychology graduate from Houston Baptist University. This is her fourth year on the team. Her other professional experience includes dancing for the San Antonio Spurs. She enjoys volunteering as a hospice patient caregiver.

Cara, a rookie from Clear Lake, is a dance teacher. She is studying Dance at the University of Houston. Cara can also play the flute… and can you guess what she loves to do? That’s right… dance!

Christie, a three-year veteran and team captain, is a Hotel and Restaurant Management major at the University of Houston. Her career goal is to open a restaurant or manage a hotel in a paradise location. She enjoys volunteering at the Houston Culinary Awards.

Christina, a Psychology/Human Development major at the University of Houston, is a three-year veteran on the team. After graduation, she plans to start working on her master’s degree. Christina’s dream job is to be a Broadway dancer but still wants to be a successful psychologist. Who says you can’t have both? She admits that her schedule is very busy now, but given the opportunity and time, she would love to volunteer more in the community.

Ebony is a four-year veteran and team captain from St. Charles, MO. She’s a hotel sales director. Ebony received her BA in Broadcast Journalism from Western Kentucky University.

Geneva is our artist. Literally. She studied Sculpture/Art History at the University of Houston. In her free time, she plays the cello. Here’s a girl who can dance and play an instrument! She’s the true definition of the term artsy-fartsy. Geneva wants to own a café and sell artwork someday.

Ginger is the lead of our four team captains. She’s not only involved in sports on a professional level, but also at a high school level. Ginger teaches dance and is the dance team director at a local high school. She graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in Education and minor in Health. Her past dance experience includes the Texas Tech Pom Squad and the Houston Texans Cheerleaders, and she was captain of both squads.

Meet Julie. She’s a five-year veteran who attends the University of Houston. After graduation she plans to begin working on her master’s degree. In five years, she sees herself working as a children’s occupational therapist and starting a family with her husband. Sorry guys.

Kayci is a rookie from Angleton, TX. She’s a choreographer and a sales associate. She received her degree in Fashion Merchandising from Sam Houston State University.

Kayla, a rookie from Minnesota, is an Accounting and Technology major at the University of Houston. Her career goal is to become an accountant, start a family and own a home. Before moving to Texas, she volunteered at an after school program to help children with homework and hang out with them until their parents came to pick them up.

Kristen is a second-year veteran. Like many other RPD, she is a dance teacher. She received her BA in Dance from Sam Houston State University. Kristen’s dance experience includes being part of the Kilgore College Rangerettes, Sam Houston State University’s Orange Pride Dance Team and a Houston Texans Cheerleader for three years.

Meet Laura. She’s studying Dance and aspires to be a high school dance team director.  Laura enjoys volunteering and raising money with the Alpha Chi Omega for the Houston Area Women’s Center.

Lauren, a rookie, is an account executive for a brand marketing agency. She attended the University of Houston, where she danced on the dance team for four years. In five years, Lauren sees herself still working in and continuing to learn about the marketing/advertising industry. In her free time, she volunteers at Houston area hospitals.

Rachel, a rookie from South Houston, is an environmental specialist at a roadway construction company. Before dancing in the NBA, Rachel danced in the NFL for two years.

Natalie is a four-year veteran and team captain. She’s a Communications major at Houston Community College, enjoys traveling and wants to see the world. Volunteering is something she wants to take on more of when the season ends.   Yasmine, a customer account representative, wants to receive her pilot license and aeronautical dispatching certification/license. She currently works for one of the largest and most notable maintenance and avionics facilities in the country. She’s danced on two other semi-professional teams. In her free time, Yasmine teaches at a dance studio and is a confirmation sponsor at her church.

Yvette is a rookie who works as a banking associate. She received a degree in Business Marketing. Her career goal is to have a steady career and… brace yourselves guys… a good man in her life. In her spare time, she volunteers at a hospice center, spending time with patients and simply keeping them company.

So there you have it: 22 women whose lives are on different courses, but still take them to the same place. Whether we are sitting in psychology class, teaching students or learning to be a pilot, as individuals, we’re all alike in one single fashion. Dance. It’s a five letter word that depicts 22 individuals in one amazing way. It’s what brought us together to cross this path that we otherwise may have never crossed.

By: Carrie Kaufman

Photo Credit: Bill Baptist