Jenny Durbin Smith is one of Dallas’s most sought after award-winning choreographers. She trained in jazz and hip-hop at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a former captain of the NBA Dallas Mavericks Dancers. Jenny’s choreography has been featured on many national television commercials, industrials, films, reality television shows, and international stages including Hasbro, Mary Kay, ‘America’s Got Talent,’ MTV’s ‘TRL,’ and Monday Night Football. In addition to being the proud director of the NFL’s first and only co-ed hip hop crew, the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm and Blue, she is a choreographer for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, a master instructor for Professional NFL and NBA Cheerleading & Dance Conventions including All Pro and Choreography Pros, a contributing choreographer for the NFL’s Pro Bowl.
Here we ask JDS a few Q’s about her life in the dance industry:
You founded the first hip hop dance team (and drumline!) in NFL entertainment history. How does it feel to see your program be so successful and inspire dancers around the country?
“Absolutely surreal! It’s humbling, inspiring, and motivating all at the same time. I truly love the craft and respect the process- from the first 8 taught in rehearsal to the final count hit on the performance stage. My dancers are no different. We strive to provide the best in entertainment to our amazing fans and to be our best version of self, and we hope to inspire others to do the same. Knowing that we are positively reaching the younger generation is validation that our purpose and intention is honorable and evident.”
You recently directed a monumental halftime show with Napoleon D’umo. Can you tell me more about that experience?
“I’m still on cloud 9 from the experience and I’ll probably be here for a while in case anyone is looking for me!
To be awarded our first halftime and have it be THE home opener on NBC was such an awesome responsibility. It was an honor that both the DCRB and I relished in. I knew we had to create something memorable and monumental and we had to do it the DCRB way, which meant no holding back!”
“Because the game was televised by NBC, our fabulous marketing and branding team conceptualized a ‘World of Dance’ halftime. With NBC’s blessing, I put in calls to my dream guests, The Kinjaz and Super Cr3w. Nappy Tabs, the Kinjaz, and Super Cr3w were phenomenal to work with every step of the way and given the audience’s reaction and every dancer’s post-show feedback, it’s safe to say it was a performance that all of us will hold in high esteem for the rest of our lives. It will be hard to top but we will definitely try next year…oops, did I just give you some inside scoop?”
Oops! I think you did! ; ) Let’s say I want to be a part of your team and that incredible half time show…what qualities are you looking for in potential candidates for the DCR&B?
“I look for candidates that will be great ambassadors for the Dallas Cowboys organization in the community. It’s important that our dancers understand, respect, and embrace our philosophies of tradition, business, and entertainment excellence while propelling our philosophies of competition and innovation. DCRB Dancers are talented, respectable, disciplined, focused, hungry, humble and have a healthy work ethic; I’m looking for like-minded and like-actioned individuals to carry on and build upon our legacy.”
On a personal note, who are some teachers, choreographers, creators that inspire your work?
“My dancers definitely inspire my movement and work. Not only do I direct the DCRB, I also direct the first and only NFL kid’s crew, The Dallas Cowboys Rookie Squad, and a competitive studio crew, The Officials. All of my dancers are dynamic movers and inspire and push me to the fullest.
Beyond them, Don Collins (my college coach), Roger Lee, NappyTabs, Tricia Miranda, and Mia Michaels are definitely my faves!”
That’s quite a list of some of our inspirational favorites, too! Can you share one last message to dancers?
“One of my favorite quotes is “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected” by Steve Jobs. Every day you have the opportunity to be excellent, so SEIZE IT. Be a yardstick of quality and excellence. No days off, no 8’s off.”
“Be your best, do your best, give your best, train your best, perform your best, live your best…and your results will be the best results that are meant for you.”
For more information on the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm and Blue, visit here.