This story is republished with permission from The Birmingham Times
Like most auditions, only a limited slots are available for anyone aspiring to be a Dancin’ Diva at Alabama Agriculture & Mechanical or a Honeybee or Stingette at Alabama State University. Even more, coordinators have to choose from dozens of talented candidates from across the country during auditions which are very competitive and intense. Here’s what it takes to become a part of the dance teams that will be showcased during the 81st Magic City Classic between AAMU and ASU in Birmingham on Oct. 29 and during events surrounding the game.
AAMU Dancin’ Divas
Becoming a member of the Alabama Agriculture and Mechanical University Dancin’ Divas is a process, said Chrishana Granger, head coach of the Dancin’ Divas.
“Our first round of tryouts is 100 percent virtual and we have all of the perspective candidates submit a video performing some original choreography. In addition to them submitting a 60- to 90-second dance routine they tell us where they’re from, their name, and then they also demonstrate their technical skill set. So there’s a list of things that we have them do that are a minimum for anyone who is interested in getting on the team,” said Granger, who has been head coach at AAMU since 2010.
During round one, Granger said she and five judges evaluate the submissions. This year tryouts were held at T.M. Elmore Gymnasium on campus where 100 submissions were reviewed and that number was narrowed down to 25 for the second round of auditions then to 13.
“We look at whether or not the person has the skills, whether or not you know they’re a good fit based on the dance and everything that they submit,” said Granger.
Typically about 25-30 girls are invited to participate in round two which is in person and a three-day process, Granger said. “So when they come here on a Friday, we teach them a routine similar to what we would do during a field show. We also incorporate formations, and different elements just to see how well they can pick up someone else’s choreography. We teach them many dance routines similar to something that we would do in the stands and then we give them the opportunity to demonstrate any additional skill sets that they have to offer,” said Granger.
On the last day of auditions the girls are required to do a professional interview that requires them to dress in business or business casual attire.
“After the interview in front of our panel of judges they perform the material that they’ve learned that we did and then by the end of Sunday afternoon we announced who made the team,” said Granger.
Related: AAMU Dancin’ Divas: ‘Prepare to get your socks knocked off’
According to Ruth Anna Williams, the Alabama State University HoneyBeez creative director, auditions are a weeklong process.
“During the tryouts, they get to actually see what it is to be a HoneyBee,” said Williams.
Auditions can be very intense. “They do a lot of cardio exercises and they also go through different genres of dance and they also learn the routine for auditions,” she said.
Each young lady auditioning is paired with another dancer.
“They’re actually dancing next to one another. Basically it’s almost like they are dancing against the person they are standing next to,” said Williams, creative director since 2014.
For the most recent tryouts this past summer in the Tullibody building on Alabama State University’s campus, about 13 girls auditioned but only 5 were chosen.
“We do have a panel of judges that comes in to score the girls. And that’s how we go about picking the girls, based off scoring,” said Williams.
Related: ASU HoneyBeez: ‘Always imitated, never duplicated’
According to Bridgette Williams, coordinator for the Alabama State University Stingettes and a former member of the dance group, to make the team hopefuls must be accepted into the university, send in an application and attend auditions held in June or July of the upcoming fall semester. Auditions can last between three to five days during which the young ladies have interviews and learn choreography. Finally a panel of judges selects them.
“The judges consist of former captains and coordinators. Last year it was two former captains that were coordinators and other four were captains,” said Williams, who returned for the third time this summer as the coordinator for the Stingettes.
When trying out, the candidates audition in groups of three or four. This past summer 89 young ladies auditioned and 14 were selected.