The Dallas Mavericks Dancers are no more. Instead, there will be The Dallas Mavericks Entertainment Squad (name TBD).
According to a press release, the entertainment squad will "consist of talent of all ages, and any and all specialties, including but not limited to tumbling, all forms of dance, illusions, stunts, comedy, ventriloquists, dancing animals, (and) unique digital and technological experiences to bring high-energy entertainment to the full game-day experience."
While several former Dallas Mavericks Dancers have been outspoken about the dissolution of the dance squad on social media (some even sharing a petition to bring them back), Erin Finegold, Dallas Mavericks vice president of corporate communications and events, says the dance team is not really gone. Dancers are encouraged to try out for the new squad, and she is adamant there will still be dancers for the Mavericks.
Kathryn Dunn, who was a dancer from 2013 to 2016, is critical of the decision, however.
"For as much backlash as they've received, I'm surprised that they haven't really come forward and said, 'This is how it's helping the culture,'" Dunn says. "Instead, I feel like they're just trying to take the sexy way out and say, 'Oh, we're going to have the dancers dance less provocatively or we're going to have them wear more modest uniforms.'
"I still am missing the point on how this has to do with the investigation that happened."
The investigation Dunn is referring to is of course the investigation that followed Sports Illustrated's report that the Mavericks' work culture involved sexual harassment from then-CEO Terdema Ussery. In SI's story, the Mavericks Dancers aren't mentioned once, yet they have been a talking point for current CEO Cynthia Marshall's way to clean up the Mavs' image. After the report was published, Marshall was hired, and she immediately implemented a 100-day plan to clean up the work environment. That included making the Mavs Dancers more family-friendly.
The Mavericks organization told the dancers a few weeks ago that they were welcome to try out for the bigger entertainment squad, Finegold says.
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"I think Cynthia made up her mind that she didn't want dancers," Dunn says, "and I think she made that up last season when she came on and said the whole thing about how we're going to make the team family-friendly, and I don't think there's anything that anyone could have done to change her mind."
Dunn has been so outspoken with her opinions, she says, that someone from the Mavs PR team asked her what they could do so she would stop talking to the press. Dunn says she requested a meeting with Marshall, but that meeting never happened.
"If Cynthia really is the feminist she claims to be, then you also have to consider that ... a true feminist woman, she can't cast stones at another woman for how they dance or for how they dress," Dunn says. "That's a really low blow. I think that's where everybody is getting a little bit offended, because how dare Cynthia tell me I'm not family-friendly."
Finegold says Marshall has "always agreed to meet with current and former employees and has done so with those who have requested a meeting."