WASHINGTON — A pre-audition clinic was held Saturday at FedEx Field as part of the Washington Football Team's preparation for May 8 tryouts that will be for its new dance team.
The pre-audition clinic that was held Saturday gave dancers wanting to try out an example of what Petra Pope, a senior advisor of gameday entertainment for WFT, will be looking for come tryouts.
The final dance team selected in May will be a 40 person team made up of both men and women who have a variety of athletic and dancing backgrounds, according to information from the team.
“I can’t wait to begin to put the vision for the Washington Football dance team into action. We are developing a fresh approach that isn’t typical in the NFL currently, but how we execute that will depend on the talent we have come through FedExField in early May," said Pope. "The dance and hip-hop scene in D.C. is one of the best in the world and I’m looking forward to seeing what the local athletes and dancers – along with those who make the trip – bring to auditions. This team will continue the rich history of the program by electrifying on Sundays and setting the gold standard with our work in the DMV community, too.”
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The dance team is a new addition to the Washington Football Team. It was formed about a month after the team announced the removal of its cheerleading director, and the immediate pause of the cheerleading program as part of the team's overall rebranding.
Pope will be responsible for creating entertainment programs and hiring and training of its personnel. The team said the new dance team will include both men and women.
Pope launched her 33-year career in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers, where she first made her stamp on gameday programming as the manager of the famous Laker Girls. Her success with the Lakers led to a 14-year role with the New York Knicks, during which she launched the Knicks City Dancers. In 2005, Pope joined the New Jersey Nets, where she eventually led the redesign of the team’s entertainment experience, coinciding with its move to Brooklyn and the Barclays Center.
To learn more about the upcoming auditions for Washington's dance team, click here.
The next step in the team's rebranding follows the team's other history-making hires in recent months. The Washington Football Team became the first team in history with a Black team president and a Black general manager after hiring Jason Wright and Martin Mayhew, and hired the first Black female assistant coach in the NFL with Jennifer King.
The changes come after reports of sexual harassment allegations within the Washington Football Team's operations back in September 2020. The NFL has since taken over the investigation.
The allegations were first broken by the Washington Post earlier this summer and came on the heels of the team abandoning its controversial logo and nickname, which had been used since 1933.
Fifteen women say they were sexually harassed and verbally abused while they worked for Washington's NFL team over the last 15 years, according to the Post's reporting.
Three of the employees with allegations made against them abruptly resigned or were fired, including longtime radio broadcaster Larry Michael, who retired, and the team’s director of pro personnel, Alex Santos, who was fired.