Arianna, Lindsey and Talor Perform for the NBA
Although this advice isn’t new, it is what separates the winners from the losers in the world of professional dance. That’s according to three local women who have earned a spot on the Honeybees dance squad for the Oklahoma City/New Orleans Hornets NBA team.
However, good looks, a sparkling personality and a lifetime of practice are part of the recipe with perseverance. Each of the three dancers admits to beginning her dance career as a 3-year-old. Additionally, each has experienced some level of college cheer experience prior to the Honeybee tryout. Yet, they are as much different as they are the same, each expressing a personal idea about what life as a Honeybee has meant to them.
“We get treated like a celebrity when we go places. I’m not used to all that attention.” -Honeybee Arianna
Arianna, a journalism major at the University of Central Oklahoma, is a 22-year-old with a fun smile and a flock of curly brown hair. She said she is a normal person despite the notoriety.
“We get treated like a celebrity when we go places. But I’m really not like that. I’m just a regular person from small-town Oklahoma. I’m not used to all the attention,” she said.
Arianna began dancing in Korea during her father’s military assignment and, though she no longer speaks fluent Korean, she said she still loves the food. In the United States, she grew up in Del City, performing dance most of her life in one form or another. She then had a spot on the University of Tennessee Dance Squad.
The Honeybee assignment was unplanned, Arianna said. She heard about the tryouts a week earlier and had to skip a day of work to attend, so she regards the job as a blessing. But she also hopes it is a stepping stone to a future as a professional dancer for big names like Madonna. Despite the extreme commitment, the Honeybee said the dances come pretty natural to her.
Blonde-haired Lindsey is an Edmond resident who served as captain of the University of Oklahoma Pom Squad. She’s no stranger to big crowds. She married her high school sweetheart (an OU football player who went on to play for the Steelers and the Rams before getting injured) and grew up around football. But she said she loves the level of energy created by Hornets fans.
“You get used to crowds with OU football. But I’ve never really been in front of basketball fans. They are so into it. The whole thing feels like you’re cheering right behind the student section at a Big 12 game,” she said.
The eldest of the group at 25, Lindsey brings a lot of experience. Outside the Honeybees, she choreographs for high school pom squads and even recognized Arianna from a previous coaching engagement. Such knowledge has earned her the title of Honeybee Team Captain.
For Lindsey, dancing with the Honeybees helps support an insatiable hobby. But if the job required anything but a local obligation, Lindsey said she wouldn’t be able to continue. By day, she works as a sales representative for a pharmaceutical company.
“As far as the Honeybees go, I had to try out and I had to accept it once I made the cut. I’m so glad I did. But for me, the biggest obstacle has been the time commitment to an already full schedule,” she said.
The Honeybees meet three times per week at the Aspen Fitness Center in Edmond for a three- to four-hour workout and rehearsal. Coupled with mandatory attendance at home games two or three times per month, that makes for a pretty demanding hobby, she said. But if you love it as much as she does, Lindsey said there is always a way to fit it in.
At age 19, Talor is the youngest of the three local Honeybees. With long, blonde hair and a thin, steely look, the UCO student looks more like a model than a dancer. But she said dance and cheer have been part of her life for as long as she can remember.
A small-town girl from Mooreland, Okla., Talor said she was a cheerleader growing up because her school was not large enough for a pom squad. But it was while on the pom squad at UCO that she heard about the Honeybee tryouts.
“For me, this is one of my biggest accomplishments. It is like a dream come true,” she said of the Honeybees.
At an average Hornets game in Oklahoma City, fans number close to 19,000, sometimes with standing room only. Talor said she remembers well her debut as a Honeybee.
“It was shocking. I’ve never been in front of a crowd that big — fans yelling not only for the team but also for us. I was definitely nervous. But it has been amazing,” she said.
Talor said she plans to finish college and pursue a job as a dental hygienist. But she also said she loves everything about being a Honeybee, from the fame to the performance. She said the experience has been well worth it, even if she doesn’t make the squad for another season.
Honeybee contracts don’t get renewed automatically, she said. Girls must try out for the position each year, with 10 new faces being standard out of the 20 who make it. For the Oklahoma opportunity alone, auditions numbered in the hundreds for 10 positions. Potential Honeybees present a resume, learn new dance routines and survive a minimum of three cuts before getting the job.
But whether she sees another season or not, Talor said the experience is one that will probably influence the rest of her life. Like the other two women, she’ll always be able to say she performed for the NBA.