Crystal Albright, 20, tried out last season and was cut on the final day. She sat in her car for two hours in the MCI parking garage, waiting for her friends to finish auditioning. They all made it. A few days later, Albright, center above, called to find out why she didn’t and what she could do to improve her chances for the next year.
“Lose a little weight, get a ‘look’ and come back,” is the message she’s been replaying in her head since that call.
Albright has lost 15 pounds, dyed her hair blond, cut it, straightened it and kept taking dance lessons. She recently “took a break” from her boyfriend because she didn’t want any distractions. “I am so determined to make it,” she says. “I’ve been dancing since I was 3. Being in front of people, being the center of attention, it gets in your blood.”
The air is thick with glitter dust, hair spray mist and the chemical smell of pantyhose right out of the package. Dancers arrive on the final day of auditions around 8 a.m. to have their makeup and hair done by the team’s stylists. Worley is manning the primping pit stop with four tackle boxes of makeup supplies. He’s staked out his territory on a large conference table, covering it with thick tubes of MAC lipstick, vials of hair goo, a flatiron hair straightener, bottles of water and a pair of falsies.
This will be the first of many sessions with Worley and the hair stylist for those who make it. Once each dancer gets her signature look, Worley explains, she can’t change it without permission. No dancer colors or cuts her hair during the season unless the team’s choreographer or stylists agree to it.
After the first giddy hour of nervous chitchat, the volume level drops in the locker room as the toll of jumping, twirling and slithering catches up with the participants. Nguyen pulls out a paperback. A few women shout and blow kisses at Allen Iverson on the TV set. “If I don’t make it, I’m going home and taking a nap,” says Owens. “If I do make it, I’m going home and taking a nap and going out to party.”
“If I don’t make it, I’m going to McDonald’s as soon as I leave,” Albright says.
The interview, first round of the final day, is the hardest part, dancers agree. Those who’ve made it this far are required to wear the skimpy Wizards Dancers uniform for the first time. There are eight uniforms and 28 finalists trying out in groups of four. The locker room entryway is a pit stop where eight nearly naked women, in push-up bras, thongs and nude pantyhose will quickly exchange outfits between interviews. They get about two minutes to find a uniform close to their size, pull on socklike booties and make sure they’ve got visible cleavage.