NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – If you have ever been to a New York Knicks game, you’ve seen their famous dancers in action.
On Saturday, hundreds of hopefuls auditioned at the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater for only one of 20 spots on the team. CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis took an exclusive look inside the intense tryouts.
The iconic Knicks City Dancers have been adding rhythm to Madison Square Garden for more than two decades.
But getting the girls ready to hit the court begins way before basketball season. It started with open auditions Saturday.
“There’s nerves and excitement, but mostly excited,” said Yahna McPherson, of Jackson, New Jersey.
McPherson was among about 200 women vying for a spot on the 20-person team. It’s her first year trying out, but some women, like Katrina Zalzer, were back for another shot.
“It would be a dream come true. This is my dream job, my dream team,” she said.
It’s not an easy process, DeAngelis reported. After the first improv round, 30 girls were cut. The remaining faced more rounds of auditions, learning routines and performing them for a panel of judges.
“We really want them to represent the diversity of New York. So not only are we looking for women that can carry that title, but that are also talented at the same time,” said coach and former member Alyssa Quezada.
She said only about three dozen girls will make it past Saturday’s auditions. Callbacks next week include interviews, because it takes more than just talent.
“They’re also really strong willed, they’re really articulate, well spoken, professional, independent, strong, chic woman,” Quezada set.
“Outside of being a Knicks City Dancer, I also work full time in advertising as a digital media supervisor for Pfizer Consumer Health,” said returning member Michelle Leonardo.
Former members also have to fight for a spot on the team – one Leonardo says is well worth it.
“It’s an incredible experience that I’m really honored to be a part of,” she said.
The final team will be announced next Friday and they will begin practicing in July to be ready for the fall basketball season.
Dancers have to be 18 or older to audition for the team.