Donald Love, a Bullard High School graduate, is an avid dancer, and will soon have the opportunity to dance on one of the world’s biggest stages once again.
Love was recently selected as one of 18 young dancers on the 2017-2018 Dallas Cowboys Rhythm and Blue hip-hop dance team, his second consecutive year to claim a roster spot on the squad.
“I’m super excited about being able to return to DCRB for my second year,” said Love. “I’m excited to be able to lead this team as a veteran now for all the new people coming in. I’m very blessed to have this opportunity to be a part of an amazing organization for another year.”
In his rookie season with DCRB completed, Love described the experience as a season to learn the ins and outs of the program.
“With my rookie season under my belt now, I felt that last year was my learning season,” said Love. “It definitely wasn’t an easy experience, but I was able to catch the style of DCRB, grow as a dancer, and meet new members that are now my family. I learned so much about myself last year, both personally and as a dancer. I was pushed to be the best dancer and performer that I could be, and to be an ambassador for the Dallas Cowboys.”
Love said he made up his mind to try out for DCRB for the second straight season because of his passion and wanting to show that he wasn’t done finished dancing.
“I knew last year that if I made the cut, I didn’t want to do it for just one year and be done,” said Love. “I love dancing, and I don’t think I’m done doing it just yet. I really felt that it was such a great experience that I wanted to continue doing it.”
As a veteran of DCRB, Love was not required to attend and compete in the first two tryouts, as his experience from last season pushed him into the final round of the competition automatically.
“It was a load off my shoulders that I didn’t have to go through the entire tryout process again this year,” said Love. “However, obviously with only auditioning in the final round of the competition, I knew I was going to actually work harder to earn my spot back because it was not guaranteed. I knew what was expected of me while auditioning, rather than coming in fresh and not knowing; I felt nervous just because of all the eyes that were on me, being a returning member.”
A Facebook Live video posted on the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm and Blue Facebook page on Tuesday, June 27 announced the organization’s 2017-2018 line, which included Love, as well as Cassidy Hale, a fellow East Texan from Tyler, as well as members from cities within the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area such as Denton, Southlake, Arlington, Irving, and Garland, other areas of the state including Austin, Houston, and El Paso, and even out of state, including Las Vegas, NV, Memphis, Tenn., Oklahoma City, and Ojelos Jalisco, Mexico.
“I was ecstatic when my name was announced for this year’s squad,” said Love. “We didn’t even know the roster was going to be announced that day. Obviously, I cried again because it’s such an honor to say that I am going to be a returning veteran for DCRB. It was definitely worth everything; looking back and seeing all of the hard work that I put in, it goes to show you it will pay off in the end.”
During his introduction on the video, Love admitted he was proud to say he was from Bullard and have a chance to shine a light on small communities and show that people from small towns can accomplish great things.
“I think it’s great to show that small town people can go out and make a difference,” said Love. “It’s also great to shine a light on where I’m from. It shows where I came from, and that I can achieve big things.”
While in high school, Love, a member of BHS’s Class of 2008, was a cheerleader for the Panther cheerleading squad under the direction of former Panther cheerleading coach Kelly Nichols, and later cheered at Tyler Junior College and Kilgore College and went to work at Spirit of Tyler, an all-star cheerleading and dance program located in Flint.
According to Love, being a member of the Panther cheerleading squad while in high school served as the foundational building block for his now successful dancing career.
“Being a cheerleader at Bullard helped me to learn several things that I still use today, such as how to relate to a crowd, getting everyone excited, and giving them the show they want to watch,” said Love. “Having experience in cheering while at Bullard has allowed me to learn to not worry about my performance level because I’ve been doing this for so long. Being able to have that cheer experience under my belt is definitely the foundation of my dance experience.”
Love said he credits his former instructor, Nichols, for being an encouraging force driving him to achieve his dreams, goals, and ambitions.
“I give Mrs. Nichols all the credit for helping me get my start back in high school,” said Love. “She has helped me to mature and has always been there to support me in everything I do. I actually texted her again during the tryouts this year; she always tells me not to stress and to go out there and do my best, and no matter the outcome, the result will be good, no matter what. Even if I text her at midnight because I’m freaking out, she gives me that extra push and belief while believing in me. She’s that extra support I need, and she’s like a second mother to me.”
On Love’s informational page on the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm and Blue website, he also thanked his family and friends for their support and encouragement.
“During this whole process I have been nothing but grateful for all the support, encouragement, faith and love that all my friends, students, and family have shown me,” said Love, on the website post. “They have motivated me and helped me believe in myself to help me make this dream come true.”
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 until the start of the 2016-2017 Dallas Cowboys season.
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.