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Nets Dancers Headed to England

The Toronto Raptors and the New Jersey Nets are playing two game in London this weekend. It’s the first time the NBA has played regular season games outside of North America.

The Nets Dancers along with Team Hype and mascot Sly flew out yesterday to get a start on promoting the games.

Be sure to check out news on their trip on the Nets Dancers Blog.

2010-11 Nets Dancers

The Nets Dancer website has been revamped to include new individual profiles and photos are now online for the 2010-11 team! Click here to learn more about the team.

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Former New Jersey Nets Dancer Taylor Walker Starts Teaching Career at Sachem This Fall

taylor-walkerBy Chris R. Vaccaro
< "http://sachem.patch.com/articles/former-new-jersey-nets-dancer-taylor-walker-starts-teaching-career-at-sachem-this-fall">Sachem Patch
August 21, 2010

With the approval of Taylor Walker as a physical education teacher at Sachem High School North this week, not since, well, ever has the Sachem Central School District landed such a high profile faculty member.

A professional dancer, dance educator, free-lance broadcaster and physical fitness fanatic, Walker, 25, comes to Sachem this fall for her first high school teaching gig.

She grew up in Dix Hills, attended Half Hollow Hills West High School and recalls the days when her Colts dance team matched up against Sachem’s girls at competitions.

“We were a much smaller school and to see a team of that caliber every year be so strong with so many girls was neat,” she said. “They’re very into their community and their program and it’s a lot like a family.”

With the hire, Sachem gains an individual with a multi-faceted core, one with the development of growing up the child of a professional athlete. Her father, Wesley Walker, is a former two-time Pro Bowl receiver for the New York Jets, who ranks sixth all-time in franchise history in receptions.

Then there’s her brothers: Austin is a professional lacrosse player for the Toronto Nationals, who won a national title at Johns Hopkins, and John, a three-time All-American at Army, is an assistant lacrosse coach at the University of Virginia.

“We’ve all given 100 percent and followed through on what we love,” said Walker, who is trained in ballet, jazz, modern and hip-hop dance. “I don’t think we ever compared ourselves as much as we supported each other.”

It’s only natural that Taylor followed the athletic footprint of the Walker family and embarked on her own career in the fitness world. For two seasons she was a member of the New Jersey Nets dance team and was a co-captain for half a season before giving up the role to concentrate on earning her Master’s Degree in physical education from Hofstra University, where she is an assistant coach on the school’s dance team.

“It was a wonderful experience and the girls on the team were so talented,” she said. “I had such a great time.”

She was one of 10 dancers from the NBA selected to pose for Sports Illustrated’s coveted Swimsuit Edition in 2009. Her good fortune struck again when she was able to dance for Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, as well as appear as the lead dancer in the movie Step Up and in commercials for Under Armour.

To think, she once worked as an intern for the Maryland State Senate after college and was hired in the first dance audition she ever attended. She did her undergraduate work in sports management at Towson University and earned a full-ride as a member of its dance team.

A go-getter at heart, Walker has spent time instructing at Royalenova in East Moriches, teaching with Dance Educators for America and pitching in at a local high school sports publication, doing broadcast pieces on the younger generation.

While more than qualified to coach and teach dance to high school girls, she has no intentions of messing with team chemistry at Sachem. Instead, she’ll be there for support if it’s needed.

“If I can ever give input or anything like that I’ll be there,” she said. “The program has been so successful for so many years. I look forward to seeing them at games and having them in class.

“It took me a while to get to this point, but everything I’ve done throughout my career has always come back to the kids.”

Weddings: Kimberlee Garris and Terry Minogue

One of the coolest people I’ve met while running this blog is Nets Entertainment Manager Kimberlee Garris. So I’m really thrilled to learn she got married this past Friday. Here’s the announcement from the New York Times:

By Vincent Mallozzi
New York Times

kimtarryKimberlee Rose Garris and Terence Michael Minogue were married Friday at Oceancliff, a resort in Newport, R.I. The Rev. Cheryl Cavalconte, an Apostolic Catholic priest, performed the ceremony, with the Rev. Charles C. Cavalconte, her husband, taking part.

The bride, 31, is the entertainment manager for the New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association; she oversees the rehearsals and on-court performances of more than 70 dancers, gymnasts and other entertainers. From 2003 to 2005, she performed as a New York Knicks City Dancer. She graduated summa cum laude from Harvard.

She is the daughter of Joan Garris of Pompton Plains, N.J., and Ivan Garris of Chesterfield, Va.

The bridegroom, 32, is a creative director for Spike TV, a division of MTV Networks. He manages a team of writers and producers and is responsible for creative and brand marketing for the network. He graduated cum laude from Syracuse University.

He is a son of Catherine and Richard Minogue of Medford, Mass.

The couple met in May 2003, through their respective roommates, at a bar in the East Village.

“He had the bluest eyes I had ever seen,” Ms. Garris recalled. “He also had a passion for travel and a great sense of humor, but we were both seeing other people at the time.”

In late December of that year, Ms. Garris, dressed in a Mrs. Claus outfit, was performing during a Knicks-Celtics game at Madison Square Garden. At halftime, she made her way to an area of the concourse to take part in a charity event and was surprised to see Mr. Minogue standing there.

“I had butterflies in my stomach,” she said. “I was fixated on talking to him.”

Mr. Minogue had felt much the same way and had gone to the Garden hoping to see Ms. Garris more than his beloved Celtics. “I could tell she was sort of mortified to see me because she was in that Mrs. Claus outfit, but she looked adorable,” he said. “I approached cautiously because I had no idea if she had any interest in me.”

They reconnected after the holidays, each bringing the other the same bit of news: they were now unattached.

In early January 2004, they went on their first official date, to a wine bar on the Upper East Side.

“There was just this total chemistry, and I was thinking to myself, ‘This is the guy, I know that this is the guy,’ ” Ms. Garris said.

They began dating steadily, and Mr. Minogue proposed in March 2009, in Washington Square Park. On bended knee, he presented the ring, and she began crying. But the moment was interrupted, Mr. Minogue said, by a man sitting in the park, reeking of alcohol, who began shouting to Ms. Garris, “Say yes, say yes!”

The bridegroom added, “It was one of those classic New York moments. But it was our moment, one we’ll never forget.”

Watch a video of Kim and Terry here.

Congratulations Kim and Terry!

Nets Dancers Final Auditions

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After Open Call Auditions in the City on June 19th, the action shifted to Rutherford, NJ where the Nets Dancers Final Auditions were held on the evening of June 21st.

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The Nets Dancers Auditions were sponsored by Sensible Portions.

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The choreography was taught by Luam.

Continue reading Nets Dancers Final Auditions

Getting to know the Nets Dancers

A visit to the New Jersey Nets dancer auditions.
by Kyle Stack / @NYsportswriter
Slam Online
June 25, 2010

There might not be a better way to spend a Saturday morning than with hundreds of beautiful, athletic women — all of whom are wearing form-fitting clothes. That was exactly what I did last Saturday as the New Jersey Nets held auditions for the 2010-11 Nets Dancers.

Kimberlee Garris, Entertainment Manager for the Nets, fielded more than 300 women at a dance studio on the Upper West Side. They competed in a series of dance exercises that day in order to earn a second audition last Monday. The final team is comprised of 16 dancers who do more than just perform during Nets games. They make public appearances around the Tri-State area, appear on TV and print advertisements and even travel around the world to visit the NBA and Nets fans.

I had a wild idea to quiz many of the auditioning dancers on a series of Nets trivia questions, from who the team’s two first overall draft picks have been (Derrick Coleman, Kenyon Martin) to owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s net worth according to Forbes (13.4 billion) to head coach Avery Johnson’s nickname when he played in the NBA (Little General). While the ladies did answer some of the questions correctly, it was a project better suited for cameras rather than a tape recorder.

What I was able to capture was an interview with Garris, who does a lot more for Nets entertainment than hand-picking the future Nets Dancers:

kg-interview-2010SLAM: What technical skills are you looking for from the dancers?
Kimberlee Garris: The first thing we do is put them through a technique audition. We look for pirouettes, bahtmas [I think he means battements], leaps…kicks, leaps and turns in layman’s terms. We have to see if they have some ballet and jazz training. Once we get through that cut, we take them into hip-hop, where they have a little more fun and hit a little harder. The basis is definitely dance technique because everybody on the team is a technically-trained dancer. They’re not cheerleaders; they’re not using poms. They’re dancing, doing jazz, hip-hop, Broadway, Latin, salsa, the whole works.

SLAM: They just need an all-around knowledge of dance.
KG: They do. They need to be versatile because we like to do something new.

SLAM: You do a lot of choreographed dances, right? So they have to memorize moves?
KG: Definitely. The first round, we’re looking at technique. The second round, we’re teaching them a real piece of choreography that the dancers did this season. And then they’ll perform it in groups of three. So we’re looking to see how quickly they get the style, their performance quality. Obviously, they need to perform for 20,000 fans so they need to have a great look and great energy and showmanship.

SLAM: Since the dance team veterans are also competing for spots on next season’s team, are they willing to help some of the new dancers trying out?
KG: We did a boot camp at our practice facility in preparation for this week and three of our veterans did some of the teaching. It’s important to them to have the best team possible so they’re willing to teach. When it comes to competing against each other, they’re going to bring their ‘A’ game.

SLAM: Should these auditions be on TV?
KG: You know, it is pretty exciting. It’s definitely dramatic. There are definitely tears. The first round happens so quickly so they dance for me for 20 seconds and they either get asked to stay or get cut. So that can be dramatic.

SLAM: What are their other responsibilities off the court?
KG: They do a ton of appearances throughout the Tri-State area. They’re really ambassadors of the Nets and the NBA. They’ve recently been to the Phillippines, [South] Korea, China, Singapore, so they need to be able to go out and teach dance clinics to kids all over the world, perform and give a taste of the NBA. Their role is important. They need to be well-spoken. We do an interview process to make sure they can represent us properly.

SLAM: What other entertainment teams will there be for the Nets next season?
KG: We have about 70 performers that we will bring back — Nets kids, Nets Sensational Seniors, who are 60-and-over hip-hop dancers, Team Hype (co-ed cheerleading and stunts), Sly, Mini-Sly, a drumline. You’ll see all of that over at Prudential Center. But we’re spending a summer learning new skills. We have Dunking Divas, they’re working all summer long. So there’ll be some surprises but we’ll continue to have about 70 people out there.

SLAM: It seems like a lot to manage.
KG: It is. It’s a hustle but everyone loves what they do so we’re happy to do it.

And after auditions were completed, here are the 2010-11 Nets Dancers…
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2010-11 Nets Dancers Selected

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(click to enlarge)

Congratulations to the 2010-11 Nets Dancers! The Final Auditions were held Monday night at the Nets Training Facility in Rutherford. Photos are coming soon, and let me just say that these ladies really put the “Dance” in Nets Dancers.

Nets Dancers Open Call Auditions

netsopn1Open Call Auditions for the 2010-11 Nets Dancers took place on Saturday in the city. The Daily News has a few shots of some of the hopefuls in action. Finals are tonight.

[Daily News Nets Dancers Auditions]

Nets Dancers Auditions Scheduled for June 19th

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Jac of all Nets to Emcee NBA Nation Tour

When the NBA Nation tour comes to your town this summer be  on the look out for Former Nets Dancer Jaclyn who will be emceeing the all the fun and activities!
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[NBA Nation]

[Jac of All Nets on Twitter]

Nets Dance Academy Spring Classes

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For a larger version click the flyer or go here.

The Nuclear Cowgirls

nc_adarNuclear Cowboyz gear up for freestyle motocross at IZOD Center
By Anthony Stoeckert
Nuclear Cowgirls). As Faisst explains it, traditional motocross involves dirt bike riders racing. In freestyle motocross riders perform individually and are judged, based on execution, the difficulty of jumps, and other factors.

“So it’s not about going fast — it’s about how many jumps you can get in and what tricks you can do with the jumps,” he says.

nc_amberFaisst grew up in Mays Landing and started riding dirt bikes when he was 8 years old. “We had five acres where I grew up and we had a little place to ride in the backyard,” he says. “And there was a gravel pit up the street from my house so I’d ride there.”

He rode at motocross tracks in Englishtown and New Egypt and in Pennsylvania and upstate New York. He turned pro in 1995 and moved to California in 1997. He’s gone on to compete in the X Games and Gravity Games — winning a bronze medal performance at the 2006 Winter X Games. Nuclear Cowboyz is a change for him because it’s so tightly choreographed.

“It’s a big, big show, a great show for entertainment,” he says. “It’s never been done here in America and to bring our sport and put it in a choreographed show, if you want to see a freestyle show, this is the best one to see.”

Those dancers Faisst steers his bike away from are the Nuclear Cowgirls, whose ranks include Adar Wellington, who grew up in Cherry Hill and studied dance at Rutgers. Ms. Wellington describes the show’s story as “Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ on bikes” with two gangs competing against each other on dirt bikes.

“The guys are incredible, they do tricks that are phenomenal,” Wellington says. “I’ve been doing this with them a couple of months and it never gets old for me. It’s explosive, these guys are fearless, they do the craziest stunts on these bikes.”

Being a Nuclear Cowgirl means dancing in dirt amidst all the special effects and dirt bike riders. Ms. Wellington, who was captain of the New Jersey Nets Dancers before moving out to Los Angeles, says she wasn’t exactly sure as to what she was auditioning for on her Nuclear Cowgirl tryout.

“We didn’t know what we were getting into until we already made it,” she says. “Once it was explained to us, we still didn’t really get it until we were actually in the arena with the motorcycle guys and we actually saw them doing what they do. It wasn’t clear until we were actually in it. It’s definitely one of the most interesting jobs I have to put on my resume.”

She’s particularly excited about coming to New Jersey and having her family see the show. She promises audiences will be on their edge of the seats throughout the action.

“I’m nervous the entire time, my jaw is clenched the entire show,” she says. “And when the show’s over, I let out a deep breath, it’s pretty scary.”

Everyone Has a Story: A Local Nets’ Dancer

By Scott Cronick
Atlantic City Press

Jen Raftery may have the coolest part-time job ever.

Like most 20-year-old college students, the Ocean City native goes to her classes and does plenty of studying as a communications major at Pace University in New York City.

But when she boards the bus to New Jersey for work, it’s to perform in front of thousands of people as a member of the New Jersey Nets dance team.

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Raftery, whose parents, Thomas and Suzanne, reside in Ocean City, did some acting and singing in high school and took dance lessons at The Dance Place of Ocean City. After getting the performance bug, she decided to audition for the New York Knicks two years ago, but she wasn’t chosen.

She did, however, become a member of the dance team for the former New York Titans in the National Lacrosse League. So when NBA dance tryouts came around again, she auditioned for the Nets’ team, competing against 300 other women and securing one of 15 spots on the team.

“There is some intense competition,” said Raftery, the youngest member on the team who wants to work in the broadcast business after graduation, possibly as a casting director. “I absolutely love it. It’s like nothing I’ve ever done before. The dancing is fun, but it’s also extremely challenging. Between school and this, it’s a little overwhelming. But I would do it if I didn’t get paid. The money helps, though, It’s sure better than being a waitress or something like that.”

[Nets Dancers]

Hanging with the Nets Dancers

(It’s been almost two weeks since I took these photos. I’m always playing catch-up)

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I was originally going up for the Lakers-Nets game on December 18th. But then two feet of snow fell and my car was blocked in by even higher piles of snow. I was better off anyway. Kimberlee Garris, NETS Entertainment Manager, told me that after the game it took her 2 hours just to go from the Izod Center to Manhattan.

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So, I went with a backup plan and visited on December 30th when the Nets hosted their cross-Hudson the New York Knicks.

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By terms of the credential, I can only go out on the court to shoot the entertainers, so I spent most of the time under the stands, where the Dancers and Stunters were preparing.

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I arrived about 5pm as the Nets Dancers and Team Hype began rehearsals.

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But many of the Nets Dancers had already put in a long day. They had been at the Izod Center since 8am teaching hundreds of girls at the Nets Dance Clinic.

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Nets Dancer Captain Jessica choreographed the routine. DVDs were sent to local dance studios, where the girls practiced their moves. At the clinic they worked on their formations and positioning. And then had the opportunity to perform for the fans just before the game started.

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Entertainers circle up before going on to perform.

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Just one of the many uniforms the Nets Dancers changed into and out of during the night.

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This is Kayte, a member of the Nets stunt team: Team Hype. She cheered at the University of Delaware for three years. Now she’s studying for the CPA exam. She also is partner in Stunners Entertainment, a performance cheerleading company.

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Nets Entertainment Manager Kimberlee Garris with Nets Dance Coach Trixia (pronounced Tricia). Trixia danced for the Knicks and the Nets. She earned her PharmD from Rutgers (a six-year program) and now works in the pharmaceutical industry.

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Getting ready for the burrito toss. Those aren’t really burritos. They are t-shirts with free burrito coupons.

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The Dunking Divas! (and another uniform change!) At halftime members of the Nets Dancers and Team Hype performed all sorts of wild dunks for the fans. Some of the Dunkers will travel to Dallas and perform at the NBA All-Star Game next month.

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The guys of Team Hype.

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Nets Dancers Captain Laura encourage the crowd in the 4th quarter.

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It’s been a bit of struggle for the basketball team this season, so the Dancers haven’t had many chances to come out for a post-game celebratory dance. But on this night fortune smiled and the Nets defeated the Knicks.

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And to top off an wonderful evening, the Nets Dancers sent me home with their hot off the presses 2009-10 poster!

[Nets Dancers Gallery]

[Nets Dancers Official Website]

2009-10 Nets Dancers

The New Jersey Nets website has been updated with profiles and bio photos for the Nets Dancers. Click here to learn all about the team.

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