Want to perform in front of tens of thousands of cheering fans in an NBA arena? You could practice your basketball skills and hope for a massive growth spurt. Or you could skip that hassle and try out for the Nets Kids Dance Team.
First, you have to stand out in a crowd. Last year, more than 500 hopefuls hit the court at Barclays Center for the annual preseason tryouts. Gradually, coaches whittled the group down to 150 kids, then 50, then to the final 15, as they performed progressively harder routines. Kids that make the final cut have what coach Tanisha Scott calls "stardom."
"Because we're performing in a huge arena, they're always performing for fans that are way up in the top," Scott says. "If you can stand out among 500 kids, that means you can stand out on the court."
Training and experience helps, too. Alex Rubiano, 11, has been on the team since the Nets were playing in New Jersey. A dancer since he was two years old, he has appeared in music videos for Justin Timberlake and Sam Smith.
A dance background isn't a prerequisite, though. Some kids have to try out multiple years in a row before they finally make it. And it is that tenacity that wins over the coaches.
"We have a lot of kids here who haven't had any formal training," says Scott. "If there's something special about you, I've got to grab you."
Check out more photos from the Nets Kids Dance Team tryouts!
Photos: Tim Clayton for Sports Illustrated