Students balance classwork, entertaining thousands

The Detroit Pistons Dancers, Cheerleaders, Flight Crew, and D-Town are the four groups that make up the Detroit Pistons Entertainment Cast.

Taking on a full course load while juggling a part-time job is hard enough as is. But what if you had to factor in entertaining auditoriums full of devoted fans, perfecting choreographed dances and collaborating with different groups to come up with exciting new performances?

This is the reality for six of Oakland University’s students. The six all work within Pistons Entertainment — four are dancers, one is a cheerleader and one is a Flight Crew member. 

These performers make up the “cast” who entertain Pistons fans weekly. The Detroit Pistons Dancers make up one of the groups that is a part of the Detroit Pistons Entertainment Cast, which also includes the cheerleaders, Flight Crew and D-Town, a male dance group.

The Pistons Dancers rehearse for three days a week for three hours each day. These rehearsals can go longer if the group is preparing for a halftime show or special performance. On average, the commitment for these dancers is approximately 20 or more hours a week. 

Kendall Duda, Pistons dancer and Pistons Performing Arts Center instructor, has worked for the Pistons for two years and has been dancing for 18 years. Duda is currently a senior at Oakland majoring in communication.

She explains that it can be stressful to balance both work and school, but that it is all worth it. 

“The most rewarding part of working for the Pistons is the satisfaction of knowing you practiced for so long, and it was so tiring, but that it pays off on the court,” Duda said. 

The practices and games enliven these students as they continue to perfect one passion while studying the other. 

“There will never be a practice where you don’t learn something new,” Nick Willson, Pistons dancer and graphic design major, said. “There will never even be a game where you don’t learn something, or at least attempt something new because of how creative, inventive and willing people are with new tricks or dances.”

These students find ways to manage their hectic schedule through blocking out time throughout the week to devote to entertaining and rehearsals and school. 

Duda sets aside mornings for school work only, then allows her afternoons and evenings to be centered on dance and instructing. 

“I balance school and work by setting days of the week, Sunday and Monday, to solely focus on school,” Rachel Clancy, Pistons dancer and pre-physical therapy major, said. 

Duda encourages anyone within the entertainment industry to look into working for the Pistons, as they provide creative opportunities for those in the arts.

Oakland has given Duda and others the opportunity to create strong friendships, while pursuing their passions outside of classes. 

To find out more about the Pistons Entertainment Cast, visit