The 2018 calendar of Dallas Mavericks Dancers features women in bikinis among lush landscaping, water slides, waterfalls and private cabanas. They're not in Mexico, though; they're at JadeWaters, the resort pool extraordinaire at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas. Just behind the women surrounded by a tropical backdrop, the Dallas skyline loomed in the distance.
The 28-page calendar will be unveiled during an official release party on Oct. 5 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Eighteen 76 Club inside American Airlines Center in Dallas.
New faces on the squad range from recent college graduates who have danced for teams at the University of Texas, TCU, Texas Tech and the University of Arkansas, plus a former Dallas Stars Ice Girl and a former member of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. The Mavs Dancers roster includes 18 women, 11 of who are rookies.
The photo shoot at the $20 million poolside paradise doubled as a bonding experience for the rookie dancers, many of whom were experiencing the "model life" for the first time while returning veterans welcomed their new teammates into the sisterhood.
"I'm one of only two girls on the team that isn't from Dallas," said rookie Mavs Dancer Julia. (The dancers don't give their last names for confidentiality's sake.) The calendar photo shoot "was a great chance for me to get to bond with some of the girls."
Julia is the only dancer on this year's team who relocated to the Dallas area after making the team. She graduated from the University of Texas with a broadcast journalism degree and was not ready to give up her love of being on a dance team.
"When I was 18, I moved to Los Angeles and was a backup dancer in music videos for Earth, Wind & Fire, Nick Cannon, Pharrell [Williams] and few others," she says. "With the Mavs, I'll get to do my favorite thing with my favorite people for the next year. Even though we've only been on the team for a month, I can already tell that some of these girls are going to be some of my best friends for the rest of my life."
The photo shoot took place over a three days in mid-August, with each day consisting of a morning shoot with 5 a.m. call times and evening shoots that ran late into the night.
Representatives from Osgood O'Neil and Tigi Cosmetics offered professional hair and makeup, each of which took at least an hour for each dancer. Roman Pena and Jamie Ford shot the photos.
The photo shoot, understandably, can be nerve-wracking, as the Mavs Dancers wear two-piece bathing suits and pose for cameras for hours. "I was so nervous," says Lisa, a rookie who has a biomedical engineering degree from the University of Arkansas, "but it was an exciting nervous and literally ended up being so much fun."
"Now I am really looking forward to seeing all of the hard work put into a tangible product," she says. "We have beautiful girls, not only on the outside, but on the inside, so I can't wait to see their personalities shine and radiate through the pages of the calendar."
Third-year veteran Ashley seemed very comfortable. "Leading up to the calendar shoot, I was on a strict diet and did extra cardio because it's important to look your best and represent yourself and the Dallas Mavericks organization in the best way possible," she explains.
The marketing team decides each year where to shoot the calendar, says Mavs Dancers director Mallory Mills, who was on the team for seven seasons before taking over as director in 2010. She says JadeWaters' "many different water feature options" will make for good photos.
At the Oct. 5 calendar release party at the AAC, all 18 Mavs Dancers are expected to be present to sign the calendars and pose for pictures with the fans in attendance.
The calendar release party is free and open to the public. Calendars cost $10.