Dallas’ ManiAACs are the Original Male NBA Dance Squad

March 26, 2010 by · Comments Off 

(PHOTO BY KATIE SIMON / THE DAILY MUSTANG)

(PHOTO BY KATIE SIMON / THE DAILY MUSTANG)

Katie Simon
katies@smu.edu

It’s hard to look away when these dancers storm out onto the American Airline Center’s basketball court. Some Dallas Mavericks’ fans stare in awe, others glow green with envy. Their skin-tight tops are enough to turn heads, as are their sensual dance moves and provocative wiggling.

They’re hot, they’re hip, they’re…large sweaty men.

These rowdy, big-bellied, shredded-t-shirt wearing dancers are known as the Mavs ManiAACs, and they are the first male dance squad of the NBA.

Unlike the tiny bombshell Mavs Dancers, the ManiAACs (AAC stands for American Airlines Center) are a group of heavyset men wearing very tiny shirts. Attire includes a midriff, shredded “MANIAACS: Gettin’ Jiggly Wit It” t-shirt, sweatbands, baseball caps, warm-up pants and crazy attitudes—along with their protruding bellies.

However, Their outfits may not be as outrageous as their nicknames. Big Rob (the captain), Boy Ain’t Right, Wonderbread and Chunky D make up four of the 19 members, all of whom have dubbed themselves with goofy names.

The ManiACCs first began their crowd-pleasing hip-hop routines during the 2002 playoffs season. Mark Cuban wanted to put together a one-time out-of-the-ordinary dance routine for a playoff game. He imagined a dance team that would consist of the typical male Mavs fans: large, beer-drinking and rambunctious. He turned to Shella Sattler, the coach of the Mavs Dancers and founder of Dallas Powerhouse of Dance.

“He said, ‘I want you to get these…huge Mavericks’ guy fans, and I want you to do a dance-off spoof and just see what happens,’” said Sattler. “And I just thought, ‘No way, there’s no way. Well, I can try and if I fail, I fail.’”

But failure was not the result. Instead, around 100 men showed up to try out for the squad, and 20 were picked to be the official ManiAACs.

Some of the auditioners, like Rob “Big Rob” Maiden, an accountant for the Dallas Cowboys, had no idea what they were in for.

“They ran an ad saying that they were looking for beefy guys, so one of my co-workers filled out an application for me without my knowledge, and I got a letter that said I had been invited to an audition,” Big Rob said.

Others, like Daniel “Boy Ain’t Right” Jacob, an SMU alumnus, were ecstatic when they heard about the tryouts.

“I just looked at it going, ‘Hey, I can get free tickets!’” Boy Ain’t Right said.

Big Rob says Sattler, who had only really worked with female dancers before that day, was not used to being in the presence of so many large men, and was especially not used to training them.

However, the confusion over how to handle Mark Cuban’s request soon turned into a long-lasting relationship between Sattler and the ManiAACs.

“We all just fell in love at the same time,” Big Rob said. “She thought we were all just cute and cuddly.”

When the ManiAACs hit the court for their big playoff game debut, the crowd didn’t know what to expect. They lined up on the court wearing yellow raincoats and holding red and blue umbrellas. Seconds later, “It’s Raining Men” by The Weather Girls filled the speakers, the raincoats flew off, and the rest, as Big Rob said, was history.

Sattler says they received a standing ovation. From that point on, the ManiAACs knew they were not going to be just a one-hit wonder.

“We just said, ‘Man, I can see myself doing this for a long time,” Big Rob remembers.

Their instant-hit status didn’t stay local for long, however. Other NBA teams quickly caught on and began forming male dance teams of their own.

“Every single team in the league copied us. Some succeeded and some failed. I think we are the only ones that are still around,” Sattler said.

Now in their eighth season, the ManiAACs have a large fan base.

Yadira Moreno, who moved from Juarez, Mexico to Dallas two and a half years ago and regularly attends Mavs games, is already a die-hard fan.

“I really like them, and I really like the way they don’t have any inhibitions,” Moreno said at an NBA event for the recent Allstar games.

Part of their success, believes Sattler, comes from the fact that she only allows them to dance at one game per month, and each performance is themed. This leaves the crowd wanting more, resulting in a bigger response when they finally do stomp onto the court.

Despite their rare performances, however, the ManiAACs are present at every game. They boogie in unison, often swaying left and right at the top of section 112 above their “ManiAACs” banner.

They have also been known to mingle through the halls outside of the arena, chatting with fans grabbing a beer or hotdog.
Brad Edwards, the assistant manager at the Dallas Mavericks Ultimate Fan Shop at Northpark Mall, says he runs across the ManiAACs every time he attends a game and is good friends with Randy, also known as Wild Dog.

“I’ve known him for a few years,” Edwards said. “He’s a crazy guy.

So how does one qualify to become a ManiAAC? Being crazy like Wild Dog is only part of the criteria. The squad, which holds tryouts at the beginning of every season, looks for large men with even larger personalities.

“And big people who can keep a beat,” Shella said.

SMU freshman Parth Sheth, a Dallas local and long-time ManiAACs fan, jokingly admits to wanting to join the squad someday.

“I actually kind of want to be one, but I’m not big enough I guess,” said Sheth.

Click here to check out the ManiAACs in action during the Spurs’ game.

Arts Beat: Meadows Spring Dance Concert has a different beat for all

April 6, 2009 by · Comments Off 

This spring’s dance concert was a little unexpected. There were three parts to the concert and two intermissions, and you needed the intermissions to prepare yourself for the next performance.

The dances were executed with grace and power. The choreography is what captured my attention the most. In the first part of the three-part concert, the dancing was all over the place and it was very different. I didn’t understand it, and I really do not know how to explain to those who choose not to go. The dance is called “Cloven Kingdom,” and in the program there is a quote that says, “Man is a social animal.”

The choreography, by Paul Taylor, was a mixture of dancing like animals and civilized human beings. The male dancers were dressed in black and white formal suits, but dancing and behaving like animals. They moved around like rabbits and monkeys, but then quickly would switch to a more civilized humane dance. The women were dressed in long dresses, and they moved eloquently. They too would burst into random animal-like dances.

I also cannot forget to mention the dancers who wore objects on their heads. The objects were mirrors, that reflected the light into the audience. One dancer had a box on her head, and it became very distracting. I do not have an opinion about this piece because it was very confusing, it cannot be explain adequately enough, it is something people will have to see to try to understand it.

The other parts to the concert were what I expected a ballet recital to be. Ballerinas tip-toed there way along the stage and graced the air with their leaps. It was beautiful to watch, and it was nothing like the first performances.

The third part of the concert was fun and energetic. It was the “Swing Concerto” choreographed by Danny Buraczeski. The swing dancing got my feet tapping, and the crowd yelling. The dancers reminded me of sock hops in cafes. The female dancers were tossed in the air like rag dolls, and the men powerfully lifted their partners with ease. I was impressed.

It was an interesting mix and the Meadows Spring Dance Concert, but I wouldn’t mind going again.

The concert is running through April 5. Information is at the Meadows Ticket Office 214.768.ARTS

–Posted by Laura Vasquez

Campus News Blog: You Know It’s Brown Bag When…

March 4, 2009 by · Comments Off 

posted by Lisa Rodriguez

SMU dancers have been sacrificing sleep, schoolwork, and social lives for the last month and a half. Why? To entertain you. The Brown Bag Dance Concert began Monday at the Lobby of The Owens Fine Arts Center. And continues for the remainder of the week.
To a non-dancer, Brown Bag means an hour of lunchtime entertainment, but to those who participate, it means dedicating endless hours of time and energy to rehearsal. Here’s a little glance into the minds of the dancers when they hear the words Brown Bag:

You know its Brown Bag when…

“…when your body wants to shoot you”

“…when dancers get locked in the dance studios at night”
Morgana Phlaum, junior

“…when a song comes on the radio and people say ‘that’s MY song!’”
Marielle Perrault, senior

“…when you don’t sleep.”
Christine Harris, sophomore

“…when I wake up Monday morning and actually put on make up.”

“…when I walk onto the stage and see all the faces right in front of you.”
Leah Mitchell, freshman

“…when you don’t sleep and you skip at least one class a day.”
Page Leahy

Brown Bag continues in the lobby of the Owens Arts Center Wednesday and Friday at noon and Thursday at 12:30 p.m.

Campus News Blog: Jarosz lands Vegas dance gig, but what about other Meadows grads?

February 16, 2009 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Lisa Rodriguez

Chris Jarosz has a job after college. When he graduates, he’s going to dance in Cirque du Soleil’s new show opening in Las Vegas. And while everyone is excited for him, his story is not typical of most Meadows graduates.

The truth is, most students graduating with a fine arts degree this May are going to end up working jobs completely out of their area of study while they struggle to find work in their field. This does not come as a shock to many Meadows students—the idea of the “starving artist” has been around long enough.

Now, though, things are looking even worse. Today’s economy has dance companies and art galleries closing, and those that survive are facing enormous budget cuts.
Bottom line: no jobs for artists. So here are a few tips, gathered from various people in the industry on how to get a job in the fine arts.

From Tina Parker, co-artistic director and administrative director for Kitchen Dog Theater: Get to know the people making the hiring decisions. Network. Volunteer somewhere you want to get a job.

(This is what helped Jarosz get his job. While he was dancing on Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance, he met the daughter of the choreographer of the new Cirque du Soleil. So you see, it’s all about connections…)

From Liliana Bloch, director of the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, a non-profit art gallery in Dallas: Be informed, know what’s going on in the arts community. Expose your work, and think creatively.

From Lindsey Frattare, Meadows graduate, now working freelance dance jobs in Chicago: Audition for everything and save your money. Think outside the box. Don’t give up, even though you want to.

So for Jarosz: congratulations, and for everyone else: good luck.

Arts Beat: Brown Bag Shows Serious Talent

October 2, 2008 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Johnny Brackett

As a junior at SMU I have been hearing about the Brown Bag Fall Dance Series for the past two years. Unfortunately, like many other students, the word of Brown Bag passing through campus went in one ear and out the other. This year changed that year. I decided it was time to check it out. I refuse to be the type of student who misses everything because I don’t want to take 50 minutes out of my day to see what my SMU? colleagues? have put together. Although what constitutes the difference between ballet and jazz is a mystery to me, that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the elegance and talent that the SMU dancers displayed at Brown Bag.?

As a inexperienced dance critic, I saw 13 dances. All of which were amazing to me. There was not a single dance performed at Brown Bag that I could say was horrible. Some were a little more tedious than others, but all of them displayed serious talent.

Out of these dances, I was most impressed by “Work” choreographed by Ken Bell. Bell and his team of dancers performed an? exhilarating? fast-paced routine that included leaps, lifts, jumps and twists. While Bell’s piece was being performed, I took a moment to glance around the audience. Everyone from SMU students and parents to visiting high school students had a smile on their face. I could see the energy of the dancers reflected in the viewers’ eyes. It was not only fun to watch, but the contagious energy of Bell and his dancers made me feel like I was up there strutting my stuff. The end of the dance brought no surprise: roaring applause from the audience.?

The moral of the story here is don’t let your ignorance of certain aspects on SMU campus keep you from experiencing them. Constantly, I hear people saying “I don’t want to go to that, I’m not a dancer. I won’t know what’s going on.” Well people, my question is: how will you ever rise above your ignorance if you don’t open up to new experiences? I feel a tiny bit more educated about dance now because of what I saw and experienced. I am all for learning new things. So the question is: are you??

Dance Students’ Works
Featured in Brown Bag

September 30, 2008 by · Comments Off 

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