Pamela Jagger Purcel, an award winning choreographer and former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader who cheered from 1997-2000, was selected to head up the Dancers by Desperados’ C.O.O. Shy Anderson; Desperados G.M. Jerry Jones Jr.; and by Charlotte Anderson VP of the Dallas Cowboys/President of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Pamela was hired to create, market and manage all functions of the Dallas Desperados Dancers. An honors graduate with a triple component Bachelor’s Degree, Pamela had gained valuable sports marketing experience while working with a successful sports marketing agency in Dallas. A former classical ballerina, trained at the famed School of American Ballet in New York City, Pamela’s knowledge of marketing, PR, sponsorship sales, dance, choreography, media relations and management would all come into play with the invention of the brand new Dallas Desperados Dancers.
The Unique Look…
The Dancers’ uniform, like the dance team, had to be both dynamic and original while still functional for performing. After considering the submitted designs of several talented costume designers, the Desperados management selected their favorite prototype. The designer was a young woman by the name of Terra Watson who just happened to be a former five-year Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader (1995-2000). Pamela’s only request for the dancers’ new uniform was a pair of black sequined chaps. Ms. Watson drew her inspiration for the uniform by imagining the Desperados Dancer as a kind of western styled Superhero… perhaps a Wonder Woman of the West.
The final uniform design includes a sparkling, crystal studded royal blue and black halter top with western styled white piping, matching shorts, fringed gauntlets for the wrists, a custom designed star belt buckle covered in Austrian crystals and, of course, the black sequined chaps. Depending upon the performance or appearance, the uniform is worn with black and silver Skechers, black go-go boots or black western boots. The chaps are rarely removed, as they have become known as the “signature piece” of the uniform.
With the Desperados staff in place and uniform designed, it was time to search for the new faces and talent that would collectively become known as the Dallas Desperados Dancers.
In November 2001, the Desperados Organization hosted almost 200 hopeful young women during three preliminary rounds held at popular dance studios in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. Seventy dancers were chosen to advance to the semi-finals, which were held at the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders studio. Forty-two lucky dancers were selected to compete in the finals. The final auditions were as original in concept as the team. The dancers would essentially be auditioning on stage in a public place with fans there to cheer them on. While the idea of auditioning in public potentially could’ve added extra pressure on the dancers, it ended up being one of the most fun and positive audition experiences most of the dancers had ever had. –And the attire for finals? Each dancer wore a solid pair of black dance pants with dance sneakers and a small Desperados cropped t’ shirt. Pamela’s idea behind this was triple-fold: first, all finalists were on equal footing with attire; second, the look was conservative enough for a public audition; and last, what great marketing to have 42 beautiful women wearing the team’s dynamic new logo!
After 10 days of competition, 21 dynamic dancers aged 19-30 years old, were selected for their dance ability, crowd appeal and outgoing personalities to become the first team of Dallas Desperados Dancers. The dance team has quickly become one of the most popular, exciting and captivating dance teams in professional sports.
As part of the Dallas Cowboys family, one would expect the Dallas Desperados to feature world-class dancers… and one would be right! The Dallas Desperados Dancers entertain at all home games with explosive feature routines and serve as ambassadors to the community appearing at a variety of charity, corporate and civic events throughout Texas. The Dancers average between 15-20 appearances per month. Within the first couple months of their creation, the dancers began receiving international fan mail, requests for interviews, personal appearances, performances, and television & radio appearances. The Dancers currently receive between 25,000-45,000 visitors to their Web site per month.
For the young women, everyday life takes a fun and exciting turn with professional photo shoots, choreography sessions with some of the most talented young choreographers in the business, being recognized while out in the community, and, of course, requests for autographs. Through it all, the Dancers have collectively and individually remained approachable, friendly and down-to-earth.
D Magazine recognized the Dancers with an Editor’s Choice Award for their annual “Best of Big D” issue. The Dance team was featured in the magazine as one of the city’s best.
Ft. Hood invited the entire team of Dancers to visit with the 42,000 troops. This invitation made the Desperados Dancers the first Arena team in the League’s 17-year history to be invited to the post. While at Ft. Hood, the Desperados Dancers premiered their explosive one-hour Variety Show to an appreciative and responsive audience! The trip was so successful the Dancers were invited back just one month later to support the troops being deployed to Iraq.
While the Dallas Desperados Dancers do share some similarities with their world famous counterpart the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, the new dance team was created to be an edgier, “pop-star” version of the classic Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. However, in saying that, the same high standards are in place that the Cowboys Cheerleaders’ Organization has successfully upheld for more than thirty years.”
The Dancers have quickly become known as trendsetters in professional sports entertainment due to their cutting edge choreography, and eye-popping style. The recipe for keeping everything fresh includes the talented young choreographers who are at the top of their game. In the first year, the dancers worked with choreographers including Jeremy Keeton, Amber Strauser, Libbie Reed, Stephanie DiBiase and Nick Zborowski. The combination of these choreographers’ very diverse styles helped add to the excitement the Dancers’ repertoire. Many different professional sports teams have contacted the Desperados requesting videos of the choreography or, at the very least, the contact information for the choreographers!
With the many perks of being a Dallas Desperados Dancer, there are undoubtedly, responsibilities and rules that come with the position. For example, in order to maintain the most professional and supportive working relationship, the Dancers do not date the football players. As a Dallas Desperados Dancer finds herself quite often, in the spotlight, each dancer is trained in etiquette, media relations, personal grooming and makeup. Dancers may only wear the uniform at Desperados’ sanctioned events and when in uniform, Dancers may not smoke, drink alcohol or behave in any way not becoming of a Dallas Desperados Dancer and a lady.
Handing over the Reigns…
In five years under Pamela’s direction, the Dallas Desperados Dancers have matured from a fledgling squad to a worldwide attraction and a fixture of one of the Arena Football League’s most successful franchises. In 2006 Pamela Jagger Purcel, the driving force behind the Dancers’ development, announced her retirement to focus on her family and other development projects.
Jenny Durbin was appointed to take over as the squad’s Director of Dance and Choreography. Durbin brings more than 20 years of dance experience and 10 years of choreographing dance routines. Durbin attended the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where she earned degrees in journalism and communication studies and was a member of the Tar Heels’ cheerleading and dance teams. Durbin was a member of the Dallas Mavericks Dancers (NBA) and served as the squad’s captain her final year.