Fans of Ahwatukee’s Phoenix Suns, fascinated by the high-energy routines of the Phoenix Suns Dancers, might recognize a few familiar faces from the “hood.”
Olivia Gregg and Jordan Hill – who met aged 3 and 5, respectively, while taking lessons at Ahwatukee’s Dance Studio 111 – are among the dancers who also serve as brand ambassadors during the event. events throughout the valley.
The two young women have also participated in the annual Ahwatukee Foothills Nutcracker Ballet for years.
Luis “Weezy” Egurrola, the Suns’ Entertainment Hype Squad coach and choreographer, also represents Ahwatukee and Dance Studio 111 at the Footprint Center.
All three currently teach at Dance Studio 111, owned by longtime Ahwatukee resident Kimberly Lewis, who founded the Phoenix Suns Dancers when she moved to Ahwatukee in 1990.
There are many connections between Suns Dancers and Dance Studio 111.
“Carrie Anders and Lauren Beth Kassinger were two of my first Phoenix Suns dancers when I started the team,” Lewis recalls.
“Carrie has been my Artistic Director at Dance Studio 111 for 28 wonderful years, and Lauren Beth is still a teacher here. The two taught Olivia and Jordan, and now they’re both part of the team and teaching here. The circle of life. “
Jordan Hill’s first year with the Suns Dancers came after suffering a sudden, debilitating back pain while living in San Francisco.
“I worked, went to school and traveled to dance. I was mainly doing ballet at the time, ”she explained. “I woke up and felt like a knife was in my chest and back – I couldn’t even raise my arms.”
Hill has undergone testing but no cause has been identified. She said she decided she needed to do something different in her exercise routine.
“Moving your body is not something you have to do or someone is forcing you to do. It is a choice and a blessing that we sometimes take for granted,” she said.
The routines she designed are now being taught in Centrebyjh on Instagram and a website is in the works.
At Dance Studio 111, her Center by JH Method class at 4 p.m. Wednesdays at Dance Studio 111, helps young dancers learn how to prevent injury using her strength training and stretching routines. She is also a ballet and pointes instructor.
As part of her own recovery, Hill, 22, chose to try out the Suns Dance Team in late August.
“It was really a last minute decision. Of course, being at Dance Studio 111, we were always talking about the Suns Dance Team, ”she said. “I love it. The coach is a dream, all of my teammates are amazing, and it’s nice to be able to do it with Olivia as I grew up dancing with her.
Olivia Gregg, who teaches jazz, lyrical, contemporary and ballet at Dance Studio 111, is also a member of the 2021-2022 Phoenix Suns dance team.
A 2018 Desert Vista High School alumnus, Gregg and his younger sister Bella performed and often swapped various queen roles in the annual holiday extravaganza, the Ahwatukee Foothills Nutcracker Ballet, returning December 18-19 at the Madison Center for the Arts.
This is the third year that Gregg has been part of the Suns Dancers team while continuing his education at WP Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. In December, she obtained a diploma in business communication.
“I really love the friendships I have made over the years with the Suns Dancers,” she said. “And I always like being able to play.”
She admitted that the dance team’s schedule can be “intense”.
“We train two or three times a week, and now there’s something going on every day. We started to come back in (public) appearances and it’s fun.
Egurrola, who was a member of the Phoenix Mercury Hip Hop Squad for 12 years and a coach for 10 years, has performed and choreographed for other NBA dance teams including the Portland Trailblazers, Denver Nuggets and Golden State. Warriors.
This season, he leads the inaugural team of the Phoenix Suns Entertainment Hype Squad, a group of high energy dancers, gymnasts, acrobats and dunkers who help keep the energy high during home games hosted at the Footprint Center.
Weezy has been teaching at Dance Studio 111 for 10 years and is currently a Hip Hop Instructor. He also teaches at other Valley studios.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to do something that I love in the city where I was born and raised – and for a team that I watched as a kid,” he said.
At 16, Egurrola discovered his passion for dance at Red Mountain High School in Mesa.
He continued to develop his career as the co-founder and co-artistic director of the non-profit Phoenix EPIK Dance Company, founded in 2007.
All three say their teaching experience at Dance Studio 111 is an opportunity they enjoy pursuing even with their otherwise busy schedules.
At Dance Studio 111, Gregg teaches 4 and 5 year olds different types of dance on Wednesdays; Hill teaches ballet on Thursdays and is a choreographer for the Ahwatukee Foothills Nutcracker Ballet in December, and Weezy gives hip hop lessons on Fridays for ages 9 and up at 4 p.m., and for kids 6-8 at 5 p.m. .