By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Thomas Miceli described the first time he went on stage to perform as part of the Nets Kids Dance Team as the most exciting and nerve-wracking time in his life. In just a couple of weeks, he went from going to an audition to dancing on the court during an NBA game.
"I just went to the auditions to have fun, I didn't think I'd make the team," Miceli said. "It made me nervous, but nothing was like sitting in the tunnel waiting to go out for the first time. It was such a fun moment. It was a scary, fun moment."
That was seven years ago. Now, at 14, Miceli comes to the Brooklyn Nets Kids Dance tryouts to have fun with his friends and to help the next generation of dancers. There were more than 500 new kids auditioning for a chance to make the 2014-15 Nets Kids Dance team at LIU Brooklyn’s Schwartz Athletic Center last Wednesday.
Out of the 500 who try out, only about 15-18 kids will make the team — and that includes the kids who come back from the previous year. Kids must be between the ages of six and 13, which is why Miceli is out this year.
Once they make the team, dancers get to work with celebrity choreographer Tanisha Scott, who has worked with Beyoncé, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and many others.
“Working with Tenisha is amazing," said 13-year-old Julian Deguzman, who has been on the team for the last five years. "She's so nice and so much fun. Her choreography is amazing and she does a great job making sure that we all look good when we're out on the court."
Being a part of the Nets Kids Dance Team isn't just about strutting your stuff. Kids have to represent the team, which means that they have to be fun and energetic, but also have to be respectful and sometimes fulfill charity obligations.
“It's a big responsibility because you have to be respectable and represent the brand of the Brooklyn Nets,” Deguzman said. “They need you to have certain jobs sometimes. You greet kids, meet them when they're nervous. It's a fun job. The best parts are the games when you get to perform in front of the fans at the arena. It's really nice. It's fun to see all of the players as well.”
First, though, kids have to get through tryouts, which are now held every year at LIU Brooklyn. The audition process isn’t easy.
"This is a great experience and it's really fun," said 13-year-old Tristan Rubiano, who has been on the dance team for six years. "Making it through the auditions is hard because you have to make it through two rounds across the floor, which takes so long, and then they teach you the dance and after that you just wait and hope they call you. It can be scary.”
It's tough and some tears are shed, but for the most part, kids have a blast. The few who make the cut get a paid gig in which they dance in front of thousands of fans and NBA superstars. And the part that they love the most is having the opportunity to represent the Brooklyn Nets. organization.