“It’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time! Peanut Butter Jelly Time! Peanut Butter Jelly Time!”
The 16 kids on the dance floor at the Yes We Can Community Center in Westbury break into dance to the 2001 hip-hop song by the Buckwheat Boyz, sweating in their spanking new red-white-and-blue uniforms.
These are the kids who have been chosen for the first ever Long Island Nets Kids Dance Team, and they are drilling this routine over and over in preparation for their debut at the Long Island Nets’ 7 p.m. Nov. 4 home basketball game against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants at NYCB Live Nassau Coliseum.
PERFORMING AT HOME GAMES
This is the first year there’s a Long Island Nets Kids Dance Team because this is the first season the Long Island Nets are playing at the Coliseum. The team played its inaugural basketball season last year at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. In fact, the Long Island Kids Dance Team is the first professional paid kids dance team for any of the 26 National Basketball Association G League teams, the minor league team affiliates of NBA teams.
The Brooklyn Nets wanted its “little sister” Long Island team to have its own dancers, similar to the Brooklyn Nets Kids Dancers. “It being Long Island, and it being a family-oriented type of crowd, we really wanted to bring that feel of entertainment,” says Criscia Long of Copiague, director of entertainment for the Brooklyn Nets, who is also overseeing the Long Island Nets entertainment.
The dance team typically will perform two routines at each weekend home basketball game — Friday nights, Saturdays and Sundays. “Their chemistry is going to draw the crowd’s attention, add excitement to the game,” says dance coach Christy Tolbert. “They’ll just add the extra spunk to hype up the crowd, get them involved,” Tolbert says.
The 12 girls and four boys on the dance team were selected after open auditions this summer for kids ages 6 to 13; all members who were selected this year are at least 9. Jadyn Pilliner-Myles, 9, of Coram, auditioned with friend Brianna Braxton, 10, of Shirley, and they were together when they found out they’d both been selected. “We were both ecstatic. We were jumping around. Everyone was asking us why we were so hyper,” Jadyn says. “We said, ‘We just made it onto the Long Island Nets Kids Dance Team.’ ”
The kids who were chosen have great energy, Long says. “You have to have something that really explodes to dance in an arena and stand out to people who are in the 200-level seats, the people who are farthest away from you,” she says.
Knowing the ins and outs of basketball wasn’t a prerequisite. “I know there’s a type of shot called a layup,” offers Gabriella Cutrone, 11, of Oceanside.
Soon, the kids will experience their own sort of local stardom. Logan Horodyski, 9, of Holbrook has danced in front of crowds before, but never as big as the Nets are expecting. “A couple of hundred, but not thousands,” he says.
WHAT Long Island Nets vs. Fort Wayne Mad Ants
WHEN | WHERE 7 p.m. Nov. 4 at NYCB Live Nassau Coliseum
INFO $15-$125; parking $5; 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com