I stood in front of the judges' table in a sports top and skimpy shorts, showing the two beauty marks on my stomach that my mother told me only someone who had changed my diaper or put a ring on my finger should see. I was number 64 (among 78) in the audition line for the Nets' dance team, Power n' Motion.
We hopefuls were being queried about our experience and evaluated for what director Natasha Baron called our "court friendliness." Number 61 stepped forward, said her name and then nailed a quadruple backflip. "I worked for Mariah Carey in one of her Glitter videos," said another. Before I had time to decide if I could do a cartwheel, I heard my number called. "Do you tumble?" I was asked. "Not intentionally," I said.
During the two-day audition, I found out just how much my lack of dance experience meant. Choreographer Dominick De Franco showed us the beginning of one routine. I can handle this, I thought to myself. Then he demonstrated the next move—a 360-degree jump-turn with knees tucked to chest, followed by a right leg kick to the side just before landing. The force of the move pushed a breast of the woman behind me out the side of her sports bra. Luckily for her, no one saw. But not too many people missed it when I landed square on my rear end.
As I rose I looked at the other dancers, the ones who wouldn't mind enduring three four-hour practices a week in order to appear at 41 Nets home games and 10 to 20 community-relations events. There was a risk management consultant, Noelle Silberbauer, hoping to rediscover the rush she got during her cheering days at Villanova. While practicing the arm movements, I punched Jeanette Gross, a dance teacher who never thought her dream of being one of Janet Jackson's backup dancers would take her to an audition seemingly every day.
I couldn't move after the two-day audition, nor could I imagine not fitting into my sandals because my feet were too swollen, the fate of those auditioners who pound their bodies into the hardwood every day only to hear Baron—after reviewing audition tapes and sorting through piles of Polaroids—call to say, "It's not your year."