You could say that Courtney Reese is at the top of her game.
Reese, 25, started lessons at Advance Dance, in Davie County, when she was 3 and joined the Charlotte Hornets dance team, the Honey Bees, in June.
She’ll be performing with the team on Oct. 11 at the Joel Coliseum when the Hornets play the Philadelphia 76ers in a preseason game.
In between her first lesson and her performance this week, a whole lot of dancing has been going on.
Reese was on the dance team at Reagan High School for four years, serving as choreographer in her junior year and dance captain when she was a senior.
She was a dance team member at UNC-Charlotte her freshman year and, after that, led a dance group for her sorority Chi Omega. She studied public relations and journalism at UNCC and is a content writer and brand strategist at Enventys Partners, a marketing agency.
After college, Reese was a professional cheerleader for the Charlotte Checkers hockey team for two years.
Besides her full-time job, Reese, who is the daughter of Lori Adkins, the Journal’s local sales manager, practices with the Honey Bees two or three nights a week. They learn new routines and practice old ones. Between practices, she works on dances on her own.
“It’s extremely important that you’re reviewing your game film, so you’re improving and ready at any time,” Reese said.
She will perform at about 35 home games during the Hornets’ season. And in June, when the Honey Bees hold try-outs, Reese will be back, auditioning again.
Q: How would you describe your dance style?
Answer: Our dance style in the Honey Bees is mainly jazz and hip-hop. Sometimes, we’ll dance to particular genres, and that changes what we do. We also do themed dances or rock ‘n’ roll or throw-back dances. We’ll do dances that are Latin-based or Bollywood.
Q: How have you evolved as a dancer?
Answer: I was a competition dancer starting out, so I was exposed to other dancers and other studios and styles. That opened my eyes to see how much I could grow. When you become a professional, you need to be versatile. You need to know your strengths and weaknesses. As a pro, you can’t just play to your strengths. ... I’ve learned to go out of my comfort zone and try new styles and new tricks.
Q: Who has influenced your dancing?
Answer: My mom, because she’s always pushed me to reach for the stars. And one of my dance teachers, Gena Surratt, taught me everything from how to tie my tap shoes to — when I graduated from high school — she told me to keep going and keep dancing.
Q: What is your biggest challenge?
Answer: Being a professional dancer requires so much more than just showing up at practice. You have to manage your sleep, get good nutrition with having a social life, shopping and doing things you enjoy. Being on the team, you have to have a fulltime job or be a student, so being able to give every aspect of my life 100% is a challenge. To be a professional dancer, you have to have that next-level drive and just keep at it.
Q: What does dancing do for you?
Answer: I get a lot out of it. It’s my greatest passion. it’s part of me. Now, being surrounded by women and coaches who push me to be the best I can be is great. My teammates are the first to congratulate me when I accomplish something in dance or at work. They all have the same challenges to find balance that I do. We’re all in it together, and they all understand. They provide a lot of encouragement.
Q: Any advice for other dancers?
Answer: Never tell yourself you can’t. Don’t think you can’t. ... If you try out and don’t make it, keep trying. I tried out for the Honey Bees a few years ago, and didn’t make it, but I kept working and training, and when I tried out this year, I made it. And I heard the same from other dancers who tried out other places in the country. Don’t give up.