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June 24, 2009

Final Decisions, Finally (Bonnie)

Hi Nets Fans! It's official -- the newest Nets Dancers have been chosen, and I think it's going to be a fantastic team! Hundreds of girls faced a grueling audition process, and the judges chose the elite to represent the Nets Basketball this upcoming season.

The audition routine for the finals, choreographed by Jon Rua, pushed all of the dancers past their comfort zones and allowed the judges to see who could dance in a new and innovative style. Jon's choreography has been seen on the court of the IZOD Center before: this past season, he choreographed the fan favorite "Strings, as well as my favorite piece to perform, "Past-Present, an upbeat hip-hop routine that incorporated "Juicy" and "Move If You Wanna.

The young ladies who were chosen for the team all exuded confidence, performed to their best ability, and showed the maturity and technique that are expected of Nets Dancers. After the judges made their final decision, I was elated and honored to be the first number called to join the 2009-10 Nets Dancers!! I'm happy to say that all 13 returning members who re-auditioned made it back. We're also excited to have a returning member back from two seasons ago, Marla! We also have two brand new girls, Terrie and Jen, who both killed the audition and impressed the judges enough to earn a spot on the team. Meeting them for the first time and seeing how overjoyed they were, I remembered how incredible it felt to be called last year.

The night of final auditions was exciting and stressful, but more than one day's work went into this process. I had been preparing by following a rigorous gym routine as well as eating healthy. Being a dancer, music has a big impact on me, and an energizing mix on my iPod helped me to stay focused. Here's a small sample:

  1. "Shooting Star (Remix)" - LMFAO
  2. "The Fame" - Lady Gaga
  3. "Showdown" - Black Eyed Peas
  4. "What a Feeling" - Peter Luts ft. Dominico
  5. "Champion" - Kanye West

I've also looked for inspiration from the world of dance. When I'm not dancing for the Nets, I'm teaching at Dance Arts Academy. The students are preparing for the finale to their year, Nationals in Wildwood. Rehearsing with them and seeing how much hard work and love they put into each of their routines, I am reminded of how passionate I am about this art and how fortunate I am to have it as such a large part of my life.

My favorite summer show has also started up, So You Think You Can Dance. The contestants this season are all phenomenal. Seeing all the creative routines they've performed the past couple weeks has gotten me pumped up for another season working with my talented teammates and our ground-breaking choreographers.

I am so proud of our new team, and cannot wait to start a new and thrilling season. I know that I will continue to grow and mature as a dancer and a young woman during my next year with the Nets Dancers, and I look forward to watching my teammates do the same. Congratulations, ladies!!

June 23, 2009

Goodbye, Shanghai! (Jaclyn)

What an incredible experience Shanghai has been! My final day and night centered around the taping of the final elimination round of "Dance Passion" -- a rehearsal in the afternoon and then a taping in front of a live audience (of about 500 people!) from 6-11 p.m. I sat on a "critic panel," giving feedback to the contestants and casting my vote at the end. We narrowed it down from 12 ladies to 6, and it definitely wasnt easy to watch the breaking hearts of those who were eliminated.

I also performed three solo routines. Let's just say that the Chinese fans were extremely enthusiastic -- by the time the night was over, I needed a bodyguard (really a staff member from NBA China, acting as a bodyguard) to get me out of the building! I'm told the episode will air on CCTV in 2 weeks, and I hope to get some footage from the show to share with all of you. :-)

After the craziness of the show, my hosts took me to a farewell dinner of crayfish ... and I must say, I was a total mess trying to eat! But I loved it! They made sure to get lots of pictures of me wrestling with the crayfish ... Oh, and I was thrilled that they said my chopstick technique was "perfect"! I'll be sure to thank my dad for forcing me to use chopsticks when I was 7. It was so hard to say goodbye to my new friends from China and I sincerely hope I get to see them again.

I landed in Newark at 6:30 p.m. Monday, and as I write this, it's 3:45 a.m. -- clearly I'm still on China time. I thought of my fellow Nets Dancers the whole plane ride home, knowing that when I landed they would be in their final round of Nets Dancer auditions. I'm sad I couldn't be there, and it feels strange to know that there's a whole new team that I'm not a part of -- but I'm honored and excited to take "Jac of all Nets" to the next level this season!

<3 Jac

You can keep up with all my adventures by following me on Twitter!

June 22, 2009

Finals Night: When Dreams Come True! (Cecilia)

I can't believe that it's final audition day! For weeks, I have been preparing for this big night and am happy that it's finally here.

On Saturday, I assisted with the open call audition. I greeted the hundres of excited Nets Dancer hopefuls as they entered the studio. As I saw the anxious dancers walk in, I couldn't help but reminisce about my first time auditioning to be part of the Nets Dance Team. I remember how I had butterflies in my stomach and even though I was nervous about learning the dance combination, I was also anxious to show the judges what I had.

The audition this time started off with a technical combination across the floor. From the technique combination, some of the hopefuls were asked to stay and move on to the choreography part of the audition. Unfortunately, not all of the dancers could be asked to stay and learn the choreography. However, I assured the ladies on their way out that they should come back next year.

During the choreography stage of the audition, the remaining finalists learned a routine that we had performed on court this season. After the dancers picked up the routine, they were split up into groups of three and judged. While the groups performed for the judges, the rest of the ladies were asked to sit around the room, watch the groups perform, and not practice! I scanned the room and knew exactly what the ladies were going through.

As I watched each group perform, I saw the intensity in some of the dancers' eyes, and I knew how badly they wanted to be part of the team. I could see that they wanted to impress the judges and show them what they've got, because this was their moment to shine. They had to prove to the judges that they possess the skill, energy, and appeal to dance on the court. It was their opportunity to turn a dream into reality.

At the end of the audition, all of the finalists were called out onto the middle of the dance floor. They were congratulated, took a group picture, and were given details for the final auditions, where they'll compete against the current Nets Dancers. I could see all of the excited faces and knew exactly how it felt to audition for an entire day and make it to the final round. I was extremely happy for them.

On the way home from auditions, I felt pumped for finals. I am already thankful for my experiences in four amazing years as a Nets Dancer and never take a moment for granted. Watching the ladies today reminded me of how thankful I am for being able to be part of the best dance team in the NBA.

Being a Nets Dancer fulfilled a personal dream of mine, and I know that a lot of the ladies who walked in the door today came because being a part of the Nets Dancers is also a dream of theirs. Final auditions are a day when dreams can -- and will -- come true!

Five Songs To Pump Me Up For Finals

  1. "Just Dance" - Lady Gaga

  2. "Stronger" - Kanye West

  3. "Gimme More" - Britney Spears

  4. "Get Me Bodied" - Beyonce

  5. "Show Me What You Got" - Jay-Z

June 20, 2009

Waterlogged in a Shanghai Suburb (Jaclyn)

This morning I woke up early to venture out to a suburb of Shanghai that dates back to the year 1215! The homes are built along canals, and the preferred mode of transportation is by gondola. It was fascinating to see so much history, and also to immerse myself in a town that has been busy and bustling for hundreds of years.

I also took a personal tour of a Taoist temple and an old-fashioned Chinese pharmacy (where they still produce herbal remedies). I took about a hundred photos, since it was truly an incredible sight. If it weren't for the 98-degree heat and 90-percent humidity, I might have stayed longer ...

I was told that June is the rainy season here in Shanghai, but we've been very lucky and have had beautiful weather -- until today. The skies opened up (relieving at least some of the scorching heat) and sadly, my outdoor dance performance had to be cancelled.

However, I did have a press conference with CCTV and the local media in the lobby of my hotel, and I enjoyed being able to answer their questions and speak in depth about the job that I love so much. It seems that my Jac of all Nets episodes are pretty popular in China (who knew?!) and they had lots of specific questions regarding past interviews and plans for the future.

I hope to get to bed early tonight and rest up for the taping of the show tomorrow, which I'm looking forward to. I cant believe my China adventure is almost over! But in working with the NBA, I feel that there is much I can contribute to the show "Dance Passion" and perhaps another trip to the east will be in store for me. For now, I plan to put on a great show tomorrow and represent the Nets to the best of my ability!

Enjoy the photos!
<3 Jac

June 19, 2009

Language Barriers & Local Media (Jaclyn)

Ni hao!

Shanghai just keeps getting better :-) Last night I got to work with the contestants of the reality show "Dance Passion" and teach them a short dance and then give them some feedback. The ladies auditioning are very sweet, and even though there's a language barrier we seem to be getting along just fine. They are working very hard to learn the NBA style of dancing, which is much more athletic then they are used to. I have assured them that it takes time and dedication, and they seem eager to learn.

Today I went back to training camp to watch and give some constructive criticism to the dancers, as well as hair and makeup tips. I also did some interviews with local media and CCTV. Overall, it was a great day!

Looking forward to some Chinese food for dinner with my friends from NBA China and a good night's sleep. Tomorrow they are taking me to a "watertown" in Shanghai, which I'm told is like Venice, where all the buildings are built over the water. I'll be sure to take lots of pics!

<3 Jac

June 18, 2009

Solos & Szechuan (Jaclyn)

My first appearance in China was incredible. We pulled up in our van with the shades pulled tight, because I was supposed to be a surprise! But I think the giant cardboard cutouts of me (bigger than life-size) gave it away, and there were about 300 people crowded together awaiting the show.

When I was finally introduced, I performed a solo routine for the fans and then answered some questions (with the help of my translator of course). After that, I got to watch 12 of the dance contestants for the reality show that I will be judging this week, "Dance Passion." They did a couple performances for me and asked for my feedback, and then I did an autograph session for the fans. I look forward to working with the rest of the women on the show this week -- should be lots of fun!

Tonight, my hosts from NBA China took me to the most amazing Szechuan restaurant I've ever been to. They did some digging and found out that I love spicy food, and wow, this didn't disappoint! I'm completely spoiled and will never look the same way at Chinese food in the States! Yum....

Tomorrow, one of my hosts, Duoduo, will be taking me to the river front area of Shanghai to do some shopping and sightseeing. And supposedly there's a restaurant there that makes incredible Chinese dumplings, and every day there is a line around the block. I'll have to let you know if they're worth the wait!

In the afternoon I start mini-camp with the contestants of the show ... lots more blogging to come :-)

<3 Jac

June 17, 2009

Greetings from Shanghai! (Jaclyn)

I've been here for 2 nights, and I absolutely love it! After a 14 1/2-hour flight direct from Newark to Shanghai, I had the scare of watching men in Hazmat uniforms board the plane to take everyone's temperature with a laser gun pointed at our heads. Fortunately, no one on the plane had any fever or symptoms of flu.

After going through another hour of customs and baggage claim, I finally found my friends from NBA China who escorted me to a van and we embarked on another hour ride to the hotel. After a good night's sleep, I was thrilled to go sightseeing the next day with my own personal tour guide, Mr. Wang Hao, who is a Shanghai native. He took me to the French district, the British district, Old Shanghai, and the financial district. I have lots of photos, which I'll be sure to include in my next blog!

Last night, my friends from NBA China took me to the French district for some authentic Chinese food, which was incredible. Today Hao took me to the silk market, where I purchased lots of souvenirs (and several things for myself!).

In a few minutes, I'm off to my first appearance in Shanghai. Not quite sure what to expect, so I'm prepared for anything. Can't wait to tell you all about it....let the craziness begin! Stay tuned...

<3 Jac

June 16, 2009

Ready & Eating Right (Bonnie)

Hi Nets Fans! Nets Dancer auditions for the 2009-10 season are quickly approaching, and I'm getting more excited with each day that passes. I know there will be an incredible amount of talented young ladies, so I want to make sure that I'm at my personal best!

Physical fitness is an important part of being a Nets Dancer. For the past two weeks, I've been going to the gym as often as possible. I start by jogging a mile, then I do some circuit and weight training, and I finish with some light cardio on the elliptical. Flexibility is also vital for our kicks and jumps, so each night before bed, I roll out my yoga mat and give my body a good stretch.

More challenging for me than getting a workout in each day is making sure that I'm eating healthy. This time of year is especially difficult with all the pool parties and barbecues! I keep it simple by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables in my diet, and limiting myself to carbs in the earlier part of the day. To avoid slip-ups, I let myself enjoy a few treats on the weekends! That way when the week starts back up, I'm ready to get back to business.

In addition, I need to mentally prepare myself to learn a challenging routine in a short amount of time and be ready to perform it with energy and charisma. During the past few weeks, I've been taking classes at Broadway Dance Center with choreographers such as Luam, Jermaine Browne, Jamie Jackson, and Bev Brown.

I am confident that if I stay motivated through the remaining days leading up to auditions, I can impress the judges and earn a spot on the 09-10 Nets Dancers!

June 15, 2009

A Week Left for Final Prep (Cecilia)

One week left to go, and its audition crunch time! Its finally hit me that auditions are just seven days away and I'm excited -- but mostly anxious -- for the big day.

For the past two weeks, I have been hitting the gym with hard cardio workouts while mixing weight training. Ive also been going to Broadway Dance Center for a few classes and watching what I eat. During this last week before auditions, Im planning to continue my workout routines and eat healthy. Also, Ive narrowed down a few audition outfit options for the big day.

Its been nearly two months since the last Nets game and it feels like an eternity since the entire dance team has all been together. Im thrilled to see my teammates united once again. Ive seen a few of them at Nets promotions, charity events, dance classes, and get-togethers, but its a great feeling to know that we will all be at final auditions, trying out for the best dance team in the NBA!

June 9, 2009

Back for the First Time (Bonnie)

Hi Nets Fans! I can't believe that a couple months ago I finished my first season with the Nets Dancers. This past year was filled with excitement, hard work, and many new experiences for me. Some of my favorites included performing in front of thousands of Nets fans, working with world renowned choreographers, the Nets Dancers photo shoot, and even being interviewed live on Fox 5 NY Morning Wake Up. Needless to say, I truly want to be a Nets Dancer again next season! But first, I need to make it through the audition process.

Last year was my first year auditioning for the team, and I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been chosen as one of the five rookie members. As a returning dancer, I think that I have a big name to live up to.

I remember when the veteran Nets Dancers walked into the final auditions last year. Not only did they exude beauty and confidence, but they also were friendly and welcoming to all the other dancers. When we learned the combination we'd be performing, the style and power of the Nets Dancers' movements helped them to stand out from the crowd. I immediately respected and admired all of the girls who had been on the team.

I hope to leave the same impact on the new girls auditioning this year, and I know that the experiences I had this past year have helped me to prepare to do just that. My dancing has become stronger as a result of all our practices and performances, and I'm more poised and confident due to all the public appearances and media interaction I've done.

To top things off, this year's final auditions are being held on June 22, my birthday! I can't image a better way to celebrate than becoming a veteran Nets Dancer.

June 8, 2009

Audition Day, 2 Weeks Away (Cecilia)

Wow, auditions are finally around the corner and I am filled with excitement and anticipation for the big day! It seems like the season flew by so fast and the last game was here before I knew it. Since the season ended, the Nets Dancers have had several weeks off and now audition day is only two weeks away.

Auditioning to come back was a no-brainer for me. As a four-year veteran, I looked back on all the amazing memories and opportunities I have experienced, from performing in front of the home basketball game crowds or on the television morning news, modeling dance apparel for Capezio and being featured in Dance Spirit Magazine.

I've also gotten to travel to international countries such as Singapore, Mexico, and the United Kingdom, and participate in various appearances and charity events; all my experiences with the Nets have been amazing. Most importantly, the times I have spent with my teammates -- and best friends! -- are priceless.

Each year, all of the Nets Dancers are required to re-audition. It doesnt matter if you are a one-year rookie or a four-year veteran. The Nets Dance Team coach and directors keep us on our toes with the re-audition.

During the next two weeks, I plan to prepare by working out at the gym every day: I'll do approximately 30 minutes of cardio and mix in weight training. Ill also take several dance classes at Broadway Dance Center to prepare for learning a routine quickly. Lastly, Ill watch what I eat. I want to be the best that I can be on the big audition day.

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