Hundreds of dancers twirled in to auditions on July 13 for a chance to become the newest members of the Brooklynettes — the official dance squad of Kings County’s hometown NBA team.
Judges at the open tryouts — held at St. Joseph’s College in Fort Greene — evaluated approximately 350 would-be dancers for 20 roster spots on their ability to meet the flashy demands of life as a dancer on and off the hardwood floor, according to the team’s director of entertainment.
“The biggest thing we’re looking for is the performance quality — making sure that dancers can adapt to different styles of dancing. We do so many different types of styles, so you have that chameleon quality,” said Criscia Long. “Confidence is important as well — not just in the dancing, but also as an ambassador of the Nets brand.”
Wannabe Brooklynettes are eliminated over the course of a four-day process until 20 dancers remain to fill out the season’s roster. And while the previous season’s dancers are welcome to try and reclaim their spot, they are required to audition like everyone else.
This year, 13 dancers are attempting to fend off eager challengers to remain in the ensemble and continue as the headliner of Nets halftime shows, said Long.
“Returning dancers have advantages because they know they style, and they know what we’re looking for,” she said. “But they’re not necessarily guaranteed a spot again.”
From the original pool of around 350 candidates, 64 made the cut to the second day, and 40 made it to the two-day final round.
“The fourth day is very intense. We call it the battle royal, because each dancer goes one-on-one against someone else,” said Long. “Then, we ask them a question that they have to answer it on the spot, in front of everyone.”
One question that judges pepper the physically-exhausted dancers with is “who is your favorite Disney princess?” according to Long.
“It’s not necessarily about their answer, it’s about seeing what kind of brand-ambassador they will be in pressure situations,” she said.
The tryout process is as intense as it appears, according to one Brooklyn Paper reporter who tried — and failed — to make the dance troupe in 2013.
But the high-level scrutiny is important to maintain the pristine quality of the dance team, according to Long, who noted that there is tremendous pressure performing at Barclays Center during 41 regular-season NBA games as well as any potential playoff matchups.
And the pressure is sure to be even more intense this season — compared to last year when the Nets boasted the league’s worst fan attendance — as the franchise acquired free-agent superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving earlier this month and are likely to be one of the NBA’s most-viewed teams next season.