Leonard’s future remains uncertain, but the Silver Dancers are apparently done. The team is reportedly eliminating its longtime dance team, replacing it next season with a 35-member ‘family-friendly’ co-ed “hype team” that will feature tumbling and acrobatics.
The new group “will elevate the game day experience and energize crowds with a diverse array of unique family-friendly talents, including tumbling, acrobatics, dance and stunts,” the team said in a release, which encouraged “dynamic stunt artists, tumblers, acrobats, cheerleaders, and other performers” to attend open tryouts. The new group does not yet have a name.
While the Spurs haven’t linked their decision to recent headlines, it comes in the wake of a series of high-profile complaints and lawsuits involving NFL cheerleaders. The Spurs have faced no such public criticisms. A spokesman did not immediately respond Monday to a request for comment.
The team issued a news release last week announcing the new “hype team,” but made no formal announcement about the fate of the dance squad, which has roots going back to the 1992 season. Jason Minnix of ESPN San Antonio reported that the Silver Dancers were eliminated “due to lack of fan interest.”
Rosalyn Jones, who founded the Silver Dancers in 1991, took exception to any suggestion that the Silver Dancers weren’t “family friendly.”
“This is a very conservative market, and the team has always been very concerned about the look of the girls and things like that,” Jones said in a telephone interview Monday. “But I’m telling you I’ve never seen and never heard anything derogatory. The girls are all professional women, they know the rules and standards and they know they’re ambassadors for the Spurs. And they’ve done so much in the community — camps, clinics, promotional activities. To take this away so suddenly, it’s bothersome.”
Jones, who served as the team’s choreographer until 2003, said that many of the dance members felt the decision was a knee-jerk reaction to the recent wave of stories and lawsuits about the treatment and compensation of NFL cheerleaders.
“This program has been in existence for 26 years. Why now?” she asked. “I don’t understand the explanation that there was a lack of interest. If that was the case, shouldn’t they have conveyed that to the choreographer and brought those concerns to her at some point? Give her a chance to address it. But there were never any complaints.”
Several current and former members of the dance team expressed skepticism, confusion or anger over the stated reasoning behind the move.
Alexis Flores, a member of the squad, said she received an email Friday afternoon at 3 p.m., announcing that a meeting about the group would be hold three hours later. Later that night, Flores and her teammates started receiving phone calls informing them that the Silver Dancers were finished.
“This makes no sense at all!” she wrote in a text message to The Post.
Melissa Schoonover, a former Silver Dancer who also served as an NFL cheerleader, wrote on Facebook that she felt “devastated and helpless” after the news.
“I know there are better, more productive ways to handle this, but here’s how I feel right now,” she wrote. “I will not stay quiet about this. Professional dancers and cheerleaders are an ASSET to communities and professional dance organizations around the WORLD. “
The Silver Dancers disappeared off Instagram, Twitter and the team’s official site — “as if the team never existed after 26 years!” Flores wrote in a text message. “Present and past Silver Dancers did not deserve the way this was handled!”
Fans took notice of the news, too, and started using hashtags like #savethesilverdancers and #bringbackthechaps.
Flores said the team was already making preparations for next season. Audition dates had already been scheduled, and the team was planning to attend the NBA dance clinic next month. Some of the team members had already purchased plane tickets and reserved hotel rooms for the dance clinic, according to Flores.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” said Jones, the group’s founder. “I think the decision to pull it so quickly and without much of an explanation, I think they’ll look back on it and see a void in a lot of different areas.”
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