Phoenix Suns fans in Ahwatukee fascinated by the high energy routines of the Phoenix Suns Dancers may well recognize a few familiar faces from the ‘hood.
Olivia Gregg and Jordan Hill – who met at age 3 and 5, respectively, while attending classes at Ahwatukee’s Dance Studio 111 – are among the dancers who also serve as brand ambassadors at events throughout the Valley.
Both young women were also involved with the annual Ahwatukee Foothills Nutcracker Ballet for years.
Also representing Ahwatukee and Dance Studio 111 at Footprint Center is Luis “Weezy” Egurrola, the Suns’ “Entertainment Hype Squad” coach and choreographer.
All three currently teach classes at Dance Studio 111, which is owned by long-time Ahwatukee resident Kimberly Lewis – who founded the Phoenix Suns Dancers when she moved to Ahwatukee in the 1990.
There are many connections between the Suns Dancers and Dance Studio 111.
“Carrie Anders and Lauren Beth Kassinger were two of my original Phoenix Suns Dancers when I started the team,” recalled Lewis.
“Carrie is my artistic director at Dance Studio 111 and has been for 28 wonderful years, and Lauren Beth is still a teacher here. Both taught Olivia and Jordan, and now they’re both on the team and teaching here. The circle of life.”
Jordan Hill’ first year with the Suns Dancers came after suffering a sudden and debilitating back pain while living in San Francisco.
“I was working, going to school and traveling for dance. I was mainly doing ballet then,” she explained. “I woke up and it felt like a knife was in my chest and back - I couldn't even raise my arms.”
Hill underwent tests but no cause was pinpointed. She said she decided she needed to do something different in her exercise routine.
"Moving your body isn't something you have to do, or anyone makes you do. It's a choice and a blessing we sometimes take for granted," she said.
The routines she designed are now being taught at Centrebyjh on Instagram and a website is in the works.
At Dance Studio 111, her Centre by JH Method class at 4 p.m. Wednesdays at Dance Studio 111, helps young dancers learn how to prevent injuries by using her strength training and stretching routines. She’s also an instructor in ballet and pointe.
As part of her own recovery, Hill, 22, opted to try out for the Suns Dance Team in late August.
“It really was a last-minute decision. Of course, being at Dance Studio 111, the Suns Dance Team was always talked about,” she said. “I’m loving it. The coach is a dream, all my teammates are amazing, and it's nice to be able to do this with Olivia as I grew up dancing with her.”
Olivia Gregg, who teaches classes in jazz, lyrical, contemporary and ballet at Dance Studio 111, is also a member of the 2021-22 Phoenix Suns Dance Team.
A 2018 Desert Vista High School alum, Gregg and her younger sister Bella starred and often traded various queen roles in the annual holiday extravaganza, the Ahwatukee Foothills Nutcracker Ballet, returning Dec. 18-19 at the Madison Center for the Arts.
This is the third year Gregg has been on the Suns Dancers Team while continuing her studies at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business. She graduates in December with a business communications degree.
“I really love the friendships I’ve made throughout the years with the Suns Dancers,” she said. “And I like still being able to perform.”
She admitted the dance team’s schedule can be “intense.”
“We practice two or three times a week, and now everyday there’s something going on. We’ve started getting back into (public) appearances and that’s fun.”
Egurrola, who has been a member of the Phoenix Mercury Hip Hop Squad for 12 years and coach for 10, has performed and choreographed for other NBA dance teams including those of the Portland Trailblazers, Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors
This season he heads the inaugural Phoenix Suns Entertainment Hype Squad, a group of high-energy break dancers, gymnasts, acrobats and dunkers that help keep the energy high at home games held at Footprint Center.
Weezy has been a teacher at Dance Studio 111 for 10 years and is currently a Hip Hop Instructor. He also teaches at other Valley studios.
“I've been blessed enough to do something I love in the city I was born and I grew up in – and for a team I used to watch when I was a kid,” he said.
At age 16, Egurrola discovered his passion for dance at Mesa’s Red Mountain High School.
He continued to grow his career as a co-founder and co-artistic director of the Phoenix non-profit EPIK Dance Company, founded in 2007.
All three say their experience teaching at Dance Studio 111 is an opportunity they enjoy pursuing even with their otherwise full schedules.
At Dance Studio 111, Gregg teaches children ages 4 and 5 various types of dance on Wednesdays; Hill teaches ballet on Thursdays and is a choreographer for the Ahwatukee Foothills Nutcracker Ballet this December, and Weezy teaches Friday hip hop classes for ages 9 and up at 4 pm., and for children ages 6-8 eight at 5 p.m.