Meet the 2013-14 Brooklynettes
Wear two-piece attire and non-marking sneakers. Midriff and legs must be exposed; no tights. Tumbling skills are a plus. These are not prerequisites for a spot on Jason Kidd’s coaching staff next season, much as we think a somersault-driven isolation play could really spice things up. Rather, they were among the requirements to attend the open auditions for the 2013-14 Brooklynettes, which took place on Saturday at LIU Brooklyn.
Upon entering the gym, home to the LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds, I was greeted by 300 aspiring Brooklynettes pacing the hardwood, stretching, and making final hair and makeup adjustments. I took a seat next to the members of Team Hype (sans t-shirt cannons), and after some short words from Kimberlee Garris, Director of Entertainment Marketing for the Nets, Brooklynettes choreographer Adar Wellington led the attendees through a series of light warmups before teaching them a short routine to Beyonce’s “Grown Woman.”
The subsequent performance of this routine by each attendee across the length of the court allowed the judges to easily siphon out the less serious contenders. In two single-file lines, a steady barrage of dancers repeated what they learned as they made their way towards the opposite basket. Two judges stood with number cards. If you received one, you made it to the next hour. Some performers, dejected, walked off the floor before even making it to halfcourt. With the field narrowed down to 150 at the end of the first hour, Wellington proceeded to teach the new, smaller group the remainder of the routine.
I was struck by how quickly the majority of participants were able to pick up the moves, and Brooklynettes team captain Jessica Goldstone echoed this sentiment when I caught up with her, adding: “This is definitely one of our harder pieces that we’ve taught throughout the years for day one choreography. There’s a lot of eight-counts which is very intricate.”
During the course of an NBA game it’s difficult for a casual observer to grasp the myriad nuances of a dance team’s performance. Slowed down, though, in the setting of an intense audition process, it became clear just how much preparation goes into each timeout and halftime routine. What Wellington described as “What’s up hands” had to be held directly at ear level, “hey there” head tilts needed personality, and even the relaxed motion of “soft arms” required full extension. And don’t forget to maintain that smile.
A difficult routine was befitting given that, besides the bonus points for tumbling skills, attendees were required to have eight years of technical dance training. When I asked Goldstone what makes the Brooklynettes the best dance team in the NBA, she was quick to point out that the team isn’t just a bunch of pretty faces. “We do every style of dance you can think of,” she said. “We have a dunk team, we do Latin, Hip-Hop, Swing. We’re athletic, we do it all.”
Do it all, indeed. In addition to being available for practices and in-game performances, the Brooklynettes are team ambassadors in the off-season, too. This summer, according to the press release, they will represent the team at events in New York, England, Spain, and Italy.
Two hours in, groups of seven were then asked to perform in front of Garris and Wellington. The judges watched each group perform the routine twice through, calling out the numbers of the dancers that would make it to Sunday’s final audition. By the end of the open auditions, the pair of judges had whittled the field down to 50. Although members of the 2012-13 Brooklynettes were in attendance to help with the routine, only Goldstone was guaranteed a spot for next year; last year’s team had to compete against the new group for one of 20 spots in Sunday’s call-back audition.
And late Tuesday night, after a grueling four-day process, @Brooklynettes tweeted the following picture. From 300+ down to 20, meet your 2013-14 team: