Dancing Through Life: Ashanti C
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Dancing her way across the country, Ashanti C. has performed on a myriad of stages in front of countless audiences. However, after ending up in Philadelphia for the past four years, she has seemed to have found a personal love for dancing on the basketball court.
Ashanti, originally from Anchorage, Alaska, began dancing at the age of seven and was hooked from the very first second she slipped on her ballet shoes.
“What I like most about dance is the fact that I can be someone I’m not in my everyday life; kind of like an alter-ego,” she said, “dancing and performing successfully demands that you be expressive, exaggerated, and outgoing, which is definitely opposite from who I am regularly.”
Ashanti began her career at Temple University in 2008 as a member of the Diamond Gem Dance Team. The Diamond Gems are best known to perform at most sporting events for the university including both football and basketball games.
After performing with the Diamond Gems for two years, Ashanti decided to test her luck by taking her dance career to the next level. The 76ers Dance Team it was! And although Temple’s dance team was sad to lose one of their best dancers, they were proud to be represented on the professional level.
The audition process was strenuous and extremely nerve-wrecking for Ashanti, but exciting nonetheless. She spent countless hours in the gym ahead of time building up stamina and getting her body both physically and mentally prepared for the pressure it would be placed under.
The audition process was divided into two sections. The initial tryout, before the first round of cuts, consisted of technique and the learning and performing of two different dance routines.
Ashanti knew that her technique and jazz were her strong points, but she was worried about performing the hip-hop dance. Thankfully, her tryout number was called at the end of the first round and she was moving on to finals where she would perform in front of friends, spectators, and a wide panel of judges at Chickie’s and Pete’s about a month later.
“I knew that being a part of the 76ers dance team was something I wanted to do by the feeling I got from just performing at the auditions,” Ashanti said, “all of the girls, both those auditioning for the first time as well as the veteran dancers, were so personable and enthusiastic. But most importantly, they all enjoyed being there and being a part of the organization.”
Ashanti knew that she would fit in with the Sixers girls really well, yet there was still doubt in her mind. Dancing at Chickie’s and Pete’s was such an amazing experience for her and she would have been happy to have just had that memory even if she did not actually make the team.
Two days later, however, she went online and saw her name listed as a 2010-2011 dancer for the 76ers professional basketball team. She had so many emotions swimming about, excitement, relief, but mostly the thrill to bring her passion of dance to the professional level.
“I feel as though my experience on the Temple Diamond Gems definitely helped me make the Sixers Dance Team. Before Temple, I had never danced on a team, so I am very thankful for everything I learned while on their team,” she said.
Not only was Ashanti excited to be dancing again, but she was proud of the fact that she was going to be a part of a positive organization in the larger community of Philadelphia.
Gaining a spot as 76ers dancer, Ashanti began to consider her role on the team as a job. “Yes we are dancers, but most importantly we have to consider ourselves as professionals, producing great entertainment, as well as spreading positive images for the sport team.”
Ashanti hopes to make dancing a long term profession. “All I can say is I want to dance for as long as physically possible while also being involved in some of my other interests,” she explained.
Not only is Ashanti talented, gorgeous, and fun, but she also has the brains to back her up. She is currently studying public relations out of the School of Communications and is also aspiring to create her own jewelry line. The sketches of her jewelry line are stunning and she is planning on bringing her idea to fruition in the very near future.