A former Bullard High School cheerleader has once again made the cut for a roster spot on a dance team that represents one of the iconic sports teams in American sports.
Donald Love, a Class of 2008 graduate of Bullard High School, was recently selected to perform with the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm and Blue hip-hop dance team.
“I am beyond excited to have the opportunity to return to the team,” said Love, in an exclusive interview with Bullard Banner News. “I’ve gotten more excited each and every year because I know it’s such a great opportunity for me and such a blessing to get to continue doing what I love to do. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it; my excitement and passion grows each year I’m able to do this. I’m just very blessed.”
Love will now celebrate his third consecutive season with the team, having previously been selected in 2016 and 2017.
The 2018 Dallas Cowboys Rhythm and Blue team will feature a total of 20 young dancers who were announced via a post on the organization’s Facebook account on Friday, June 29, including dancers from Texas like Love, as well as dancers from out-of-state, including Kentucky, Colorado, and Tennessee, as well as international dancers, including one from Ojelos Jalisco, Mexico.
“In my first year, there were 17 dancers on the team, and last year, she went up a little to have 18 dancers,” said Love. “We were all surprised when they went up again this year to now include 20 dancers.”
Now with two years as a member of the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm and Blue to his credit, Love said he hopes to use the lessons he has learned in order to lead by example.
“I believe that by being on the team for the past two seasons, I’ve been able to sit back and learn from all the veterans that were before me and learn things that I needed to learn,” said Love. “With this being my third year I’m looked up to as a veteran and a leader, and I really want this season to be all about leadership and helping the brand grow the best way that I can, while representing the Dallas Cowboys organization the best that I can.”
Similar to last season, Love was not required to attend and compete in the first two tryouts, as his experience from last season pushed him through the selection process further.
“I didn’t have to compete in the early rounds of the audition process, but this year, they added a new round,” said Love. “We were required to choreograph our own solos, which we’ve never had to do before, that were 60-90 seconds in length and performed in front of the judges. Also this year, they allowed all the candidates to watch the tryout process, with everyone in the audition room the entire time.”
Love said the new addition to the tryout process did not make him nervous, but rather, excited to see those auditioning perform as individual dancers.
“I wasn’t really that stressed this year,” said Love. “Knowing they wanted us to put our solos in this year, it was really cool because you get to see each candidate as an independent, individual dancer and their own style. We definitely had a lot of talented dancers audition this year, so I know it was a tough competition throughout the entire process.”
According to Love, the names of the dancers making up the 2018 Dallas Cowboys Rhythm and Blue squad were announced earlier than the dancers expected this year.
“We were at our last practice on the practice field at The Star in Frisco, and they just cut our music completely off,” said Love. “The director asked us to turn around and read the screen, and right behind us on the huge screen, it had ‘Congratulations 2018 Dallas Cowboys Rhythm and Blue’ and our names on it. I got really excited and it felt good to know I had made the team once again – it felt like when I made it the first year, but only better.”
Not only was Love selected as a member of this year’s team, but he was also selected as one of the team’s three captains, having caught the eye of the organization’s leadership throughout his first two years as a dancer.
“I don’t even have the words to express how excited I am to have been selected as a captain,” said Love. “After they announced the roster, they told us they had one more surprise, and we honestly thought it was going to be our first photo shoot or that we were about to get new gear. Instead, the director came over with a poster board and she flipped the board around and it had the cameos of all three of this year’s captains. When I saw one of them was me, I started shaking and crying. This is such a huge opportunity for me, and I’m thankful they saw the leadership qualities in me to lead this team this year.”
Even with other obligations in his life, such as dancing professionally with the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm and Blue organization, Love has found the time to continue to help others locally, such as working each year with an organization near and dear to his heart, the Bullard Panther cheerleaders, of which Love is a former member.
“The opportunity to work with the Bullard cheerleaders is one I enjoy doing each and every year,” said Love. “I get excited each year knowing I get to go home to Bullard to work with the current squads. It’s so good and honorable to know the kids and the sponsors respect me and allow me to work with them. They could ask someone else to come in and work with them, but as a former Bullard cheerleader, knowing they don’t want anyone else but me working with their teams is a big compliment and I really appreciate it.”
When asked about one person who has helped him through his tenure with the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm and Blue dance team, Love pointed to his former cheerleading sponsor at Bullard, Kelly Nichols, citing her as a confidant and force of encouragement.
“I’ll never be able to say enough about how amazing Mrs. Nichols has been in my life,” said Love. “She has been my rock ever since I decided to try out for the team. Even if it’s 10 p.m. and I’m stressing bad, I know I can call her and she’ll pick up and talk to me. She’s been there for me and knows what to say to encourage me or calm me down. She cares so much for me, as if I were her own child – she’s definitely my second mother.”
Love said the experiences he gained as a cheerleader during his high school days at Bullard have allowed him to grow and develop into the dancer he has become today.
“As a cheerleader, you learn that people look up to you, no matter if you’re in or out of uniform,” said Love. “Some of the younger ones will dream of being you or being in the position you’re in. Performing in front of crowds and being around kids as a Panther cheerleader has helped me in this process. What I did as a cheerleader in high school, I’ve done as a member of the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm and Blue dance team. I try to represent the Dallas Cowboy organization just as well as I feel I represented Bullard High School as a cheerleader.”
According to Love, with the organization selecting him as a captain this season, it shows him the organization disregarded the fact he is from a small East Texas community, saying talent is available everywhere.
“It doesn’t matter where you come from,” said Love. “You can come from a small town and make a big impact. I always tell people that my graduating class only had 77 people. Bullard is where I’m from, and it will be my hometown, always and forever.”
Now, Love and the other members of the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm and Blue hip-hop dance team will practice as a team on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays during the season, starting in August.
Love is the son of Carolyn Davis and Donald Love.
According to the Dallas Cowboys website, the Rhythm and Blue hip-hop dance team was founded in 2009 as a high-energy co-ed hip-hop dance team and drum corps. The Rhythm and Blue brings an innovative, unique and exciting element to the Cowboys legendary game-day entertainment line-up.
The Rhythm and Blue dance team has entertained audiences upon entering the plazas of AT&T Stadium in Arlington before each Dallas Cowboys home game. After every Cowboys’ score during the game, the Rhythm and Blue Drumline dazzle fans with thunderous celebration performances.
The group has also been showcased at industry competitions and has been requested to appear at both charity and corporate appearances in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and across the state of Texas, as well as New Mexico, Las Vegas and Panama City.
The Rhythm and Blue Dancers were conceptualized under the direction of Dallas Cowboys Executive Vice President of Brand Management Charlotte Anderson and is the first and only entertainment concept of its kind in the National Football League.
Jenny Durbin Smith, an expert in the fields of dance and choreography, currently serves as the director and choreographer for the Rhythm and Blue. Durbin Smith has been choreographing for 10 years for teams such as the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Dallas Mavericks Dancers, Dallas Desperados Dancers, The Officials, NFL & NBA Pro Cheerleader Conventions, and numerous college, high school and studio competition dance teams.
Durbin Smith has also lent her skills to several national television commercials, television shows, touring stage shows, and promotions such as ‘America’s Got Talent’, Mary Kay, Hasbro, MTV’s ‘TRL,’ Harrah’s Casinos, and Monday Night Football. Using her extensive hip-hop dance experience and unique coaching style, Durbin Smith fashions a unique entertainment concept within the professional sports arena.
For more information regarding the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm and Blue dance team, visit http://www.dallascowboys.com/rhythm-blue.