DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — So, you think you can dance… for the Brooklyn Nets?
This month, the team is looking for young dancers to join the Brooklyn Nets Kids, the official junior dance team that performs at games and events at Barclays Center.
Auditions for the coed team will take place Aug. 20 at LIU Brooklyn’s downtown campus, in the third-annual open call for the group that performs at 15 to 20 games a year, including during the playoffs. The dancers age 6 to 13 are paid for their work, though the team’s management declined to say how much.
In years past, hundreds of kids showed up to try out for the team’s 16 or 17 spots. This year, the head coach for the Nets Kids, choreographer Tanisha Scott — who has created dances for Beyoncé, Rihanna and Sean Paul — is expecting more than 500 applicants. Most of the aspiring dancers will be cut after a first round of simple moves meant to find 150 or so serious dancers who have “the basic chops at learning choreography,” she said.
“It’s the most efficient way to break down what we need — from the basics to then seeing the best of the best,” she said.
Those who make the first cut will be given more challenging choreography and then split into groups. The last 50 or so kids, she said, will be filmed and photographed during the audition to help the coaches make decisions. They’re looking for “those kids who look like they really have an enthusiasm for dance.”
But “the first and most important thing are those smiles,” Scott said.
DNAinfo interviewed kids and parents who attended the first Brooklyn Nets Kids audition in 2012:
Scott and her staff said any child is welcome to try out for the team, even if they don’t have formal dance training. In fact, one girl on last year's team, she said, had never auditioned for anything before trying out for the Kids group.
“We’re just looking at what we see,” said Kimberlee Garris, director of entertainment marketing at Barclays Center and one of the judges at the audition.
“We don’t ask for their resumes or anything like that. We just want to see them come out and perform. Tanisha’s looking for who really pops.”
The pool of potential dancers will include everyone on the team in prior years, who are required to reapply after every season.
Vako Gvelesiani, 13, joined the team last year despite a hearing impairment that requires him to wearing hearing aids to listen to music.
The audition process is “a little bit scary,” he said in an email, but he said it made him “a better dancer and better person.”
“Don't be nervous,” he advised kids who want to try out. “Just be yourself, have fun and show all your star power!”
For those kids who want a leg up on audition day, the team offers two workshops to help kids prepare for the Aug. 20 open call. There, members of the Brooklynettes dance team will teach kids routines from last year’s season for $40 a session, or $35 for both sessions. The workshops will take place Aug. 6 and 13 at LIU Brooklyn.
The Brooklyn Nets Kids dance team audition will take place at 5 p.m. on Aug. 20 at the gymnasium at 1 University Plaza in Downtown Brooklyn. For a complete list of audition rules or to sign up a workshop, visit the team's website.