The Queens Crew, a dance team, will perform at Citi Field before and during Mets home games this season. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports.  Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Not long after Emily Thomas took her first steps, she learned to dance. The Levittown native grew into her first Mets jersey and wore orange and blue to the ballpark year after year. So when the now 21-year-old heard of a new opportunity to fuse her two worlds, there was little doubt about what she would do next.

Thomas was one of 250 dancers to attend a daylong tryout in January at Citi Field’s Piazza Club for the Mets’ newest in-stadium entertainment endeavor — a dance team. Less than three months later, the Queens Crew was born.

The co-ed hype team consists of 19 members from various parts of New York. Thomas is one of two Long Islanders on the franchise’s inaugural crew.

“I love the Mets, I love dancing so this was just perfect for me,” Thomas said. “I want to inspire fans to have fun when they’re here.”

Bay Shore's Joe Dilegge agreed.

“I grew up playing sports so it’s just the best of both worlds,” said the 26-year-old breakdancer.  “Everybody loves to get down and dance, and dance is an athletic thing in itself so why not bring it here?”

It’s exactly the mindset Mets vice president of brand marketing Trisha Donlin had when she formulated the idea last September.

“The vision was to bring more entertainment to the ballpark,” Donlin said. “I looked at what fans were sharing online while at basketball games, and a lot of that was the entertainment, mostly including the dancers.”

While dance and cheerleading squads are commonly associated with NBA and NFL teams, only a handful of MLB teams have their own groups. The Mets' Queens Crew is joined by similar troupes in Atlanta, Milwaukee, Miami and Houston.

“It’s something [nontraditional] in the hyper-traditional sport of baseball, but once the fans see the undeniable talent they have, I think it will give them something to share and be excited about when they come to Citi Field.” Donlin said.

Ten of the 19 dancers perform at each home game, ranging from pregame freestyle street dancing shows to choreographed routines during inning breaks. Gina Mormando, a Long Island-based choreographer with more than 20 years of experience guiding NFL, NBA, NLL (National Lacrosse League) and college dance teams, coaches the diverse group that aims to reflect the borough.

“The inspiration came from Queens itself where we play. [We were] drawing from the diversity, the grit of New York, the authenticity and infusing that into the identity of the team,” Donlin said.

“We are a true crew where everyone has their own talent that they bring to the table,” Mormando added. “From salsa to breakdancing, we hope to touch every heart of every fan sitting in the stands.”

Despite having just five rehearsals prior to Opening Day, the Queens Crew made its debut when the dancers took to the plaza as more than 40,000 fans waited at the gates last Friday afternoon. It didn’t take long before many were dancing along with them.

“I could not believe what I saw. They exceeded my expectations,” Kyle Hirshon of Commack said. “I’ve seen people giving them flak on social media, but I think they just need to give them a chance because these guys are so talented. This is going to be an absolute hit.”


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