500 vie for one open spot on Knicks City Dancers

(Credit: Urbanite)

Photo of the dancer tryouts by RJ Mickelson/amNY. Check out a gallery here.

Samantha Tuffarelli was hoping her 20 years of practice would pay off big time yesterday at Madison Square Garden.

Tuffarelli, of the Bronx, was one of more than 500 hopefuls competing for one open spot on the Knicks dance team.

”It’d mean everything to me for a spot,” she said.

Tuffarelli, 22, said the biggest appeal of the job is performing for New Yorkers.

”New York fans aren’t generic; they’re crazy diehard,”she said.

Tuffarelli was one of 500 dancers from across the nation trying out for one spot on the Knicks City Dancers, which perform during the team’s home games and other events.

The try-outs, lasting six hours with two rounds of cuts, continue Monday.

After the first round, about half of the contestants were left. including the only male, Jonathan Witkins, 26, of South Carolina. Witkins, a Broadway hopeful, was there for the experience of trying out and bowed out shortly when his friend was cut.

”People who train for years don’t always get picked, but the ones with their hair done or a little more eye shadow do because they look the part. But, it’s the business,” Witkins said.

Kara Kimmer, 23, of Michigan, however, said there’s more to it than looking good. “This is only a small tip of the iceberg of what they’re

going to ask of the dancers,” said Kimmer, a former dancer for the Detroit Pistons. There’s public speaking and interviews.”

Others like Laurie Gevertzman, 20, of Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn, relied on gymnastic talent, backflipping across the Garden floor, before performing the fast-paced choreography set to the music of Lenny Kravitz and Rihanna.

Still others like Krystal Dwyer, 22, of Queens, hoped to impress the coaches with their personality. ”I like to be seen, get the crowd going, and I’m loud.”

Being loud and smiling seemed key to coaches and the choreographers, who urged the adrenaline-filled dancers to not be nervous. One who didn’t seem overly nervous was Felicia Rembert, 23, of Colonia, N.J., who's appeared on MTV’s “America’s Best Dance


”I couldn’t imagine not dancing, but you’ve got to leave your heart on the floor and hope for the best,” she said.

-- Kathleen Bulson

Tags: madison square garden , knicks city dancers , dancing , sports , stuff that's cool , entertainment

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