While I've trained in many dance styles (including ballet, jazz, modern, hip hop and Indian dance), my new love is Zumba! This Latin and international dance-inspired fitness program incorporates easy-to-follow choreography to get your heart rate up with intense exercises to keep your muscles working. This weekend I was licensed to teach Zumba, which will be a nice added activity to my awesome summer internship at Dance Spirit. Here are ten reasons that I’m obsessed—and why you should be too!

1. It feels like a party. After a long day of classes, work or my DS internship, the last thing I want to do is spend an hour on the treadmill. Zumba is all about “partying yourself into shape.” Now, who doesn’t like a good dance party?

2. It’s the perfect class to take with friends. While I love group fitness classes like step aerobics, I’m often so focused on trying to avoid falling off the step that I don’t pay attention to anyone around me. Zumba is another story. My friends and I claim our territory in the back of the classroom, salsa with each other and sing along to the music. Zumba is social (although my friends and I might go a little overboard).

3. It uses international music. Where else can you dance to salsa, merengue, reggaeton, cumbia, bollywood, bhangra, belly dancing, African and hip-hop music in one class? At my Zumba instructor training session, I learned that at least 70% of the music used in class should be international.

4. It’s for everyone. There’s no ideal body type for Zumba. You can be male or female, tall or short, young or old, a professional dancer or someone with two left feet. I’ve even seen a girl dance alongside her mother and grandmother in class, each of them kickin’ it to the best of their ability.

5. It’s my favorite form of cardio. No amount of Britney Spears (and I absolutely live for anything Britney) can seem to get me through an hour on the treadmill, elliptical or bike. But I actually look forward to getting my heart rate up for 60 minutes of Zumba class.

6. I don’t even realize all the calories I’m burning. I don’t think I’ve ever left a Zumba class where I haven’t been dripping with sweat. And I love sweating! It shows that I’ve had a productive workout.

7. It works out my core. I get more than just a cardio workout—I’m strengthening my muscles as well!

8. My brain gets a workout too. I often find my mind wandering while running or bicycling, but in Zumba, I’m 100% focused on the choreography. While it’s simple enough to follow along (even for absolute beginners), I still have to pay attention to timing, my form and my alignment, especially during the strengthening exercises. It’s one of the only fitness classes where I can completely tune everything else out and focus on having fun.

9. It’s perfect for dancers. While other exercise classes, like kickboxing or step aerobics, incorporate basic combinations and choreography, Zumba is one of the few classes that builds up to an entire routine. It’s based on repetition, so it’s easy to follow, but I still feel like I’m in a dance class as opposed to just a fitness class.

10. It makes me smile. Don’t get me wrong, I love feeling like Superwoman in a good kickboxing class, but Zumba involves a more feel-good approach that I can definitely appreciate.

As dancers, we talk a lot about “finding our centers”—but what does that actually mean? It refers to the invisible pole of support in your core that makes you feel like you could

balance for days. Once you experience the freedom that sense of stability can provide, you’ll want to find a way to access it every time you dance. Professional dancer and Figure 4 Barre instructor Lindsey L. Miller shares three stabilizing exercises to help you conquer even the toughest balance challenges.

The Toe-Heel Rock

Purpose: This exercise strengthens the muscles in your ankle to promote stability in relevé.

(Photos by Lucas Chilczuck)

Stand sideways about one foot away from a wall. Lightly touch the wall with your right hand and lift your left leg to a parallel coupé. Place your left hand on your left hip.

Rock forward onto the toes of your right foot, lifting your right heel as high as you can.

Miller Says: “When balancing on your heel, it’s natural to want to stick out your butt. To keep your weight centered over your foot, think of almost tucking your pelvis.”

Rock backward to the starting position, then lift the ball of your right foot off the floor as high as you can, keeping your body upright and your hips centered over your foot.

Repeat 10 times, then switch sides.

Incorrect

Because dancers’ big toes tend to be stronger than their pinky toes, rocking back to the heel often looks like this, with the pinky-toe side of the foot tilted toward the floor.

Correct

Focus on lifting up the pinky-toe side so your metatarsal stays even.

The Roll-Down

Purpose: This exercise helps you access your deep transverse abdominal muscles, which are essential to balance.

(Photos by Lucas Chilczuck)

Stand with your back against a wall, your feet parallel and hips-width apart and your arms by your sides.

Curve your head forward and begin to roll down through your spine. Keep your hips and heels connected to the wall.

Miller Says: “It’s difficult not to fall forward during this exercise. To find your balance, focus on contracting your lower abs and pressing your hips and heels into the wall behind you.”

Once you reach the bottom of the roll-down, grab on to opposite elbows to keep from relying on the floor for balance.

Beginning at the base of your spine, roll your body back up to the starting position.

Repeat two more times.

The Horizontal Tilt

Purpose: This exercise promotes balance in turnout by strengthening your oblique muscles and the external rotators in your hip.

Begin in a “T” position, standing on a straight, parallel right leg with your left leg reaching behind you (foot flexed and parallel). Tilt your torso forward, so your body—from the crown of your head to your heel—forms a straight line parallel to the floor. Reach your arms toward the floor with your palms facing each other.

Bend your right leg, making sure your knee tracks over the center of your right foot and your left leg stays in line with your torso. Hold the rest of your body still.

(Photos by Lucas Chilczuck)

Miller Says: “To give yourself an even greater balance challenge, try looking up at your top hand when you unfold into the turned-out position.”

Stretch your right leg to return to the starting position.

(Lucas Chilczuck)

Open and unfold your body by turning out your left leg and reaching your left arm to the ceiling, so your body faces out instead of down. Gaze down at your right arm as you continue to reach it toward the floor, and squeeze your abdominals. Hold for a count of three.

Return to the starting position.

Repeat five times, then switch legs.

Pain, Pain, Go Away...

Injuries: Many dancers accept them as a necessary evil, just “part of the job.” But what if they didn’t have to be? Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, MA, has developed an injury prevention program in collaboration with doctors from Boston Children’s Hospital. Dance Spirit chatted with the school’s director of dance, Michael Owen, and director of physical therapy, Susan Kinney, about four rules of injury prevention.

Students at the Walnut Hill School for the Arts cross-train in a TRX Suspension Training class targeted at dancers. (Photo by Amanda Grazioli)

CROSS-TRAIN. “Bodies crave muscular balance,” Kinney says. But dancers tend to work the same muscle groups repeatedly and ignore others, which can lead to injuries. Through proper cross-training, you can strengthen underused muscles, while also stretching overused muscles.

Talk to your teacher at the first sign of injury. "If you catch it early, it's gone early," Owen says. (Photo by Nanette Grebe/thinkstock.com)

STUDY ANATOMY. “It’s important for dancers to be aware of which muscles they’re using, and why,” Owen says. An anatomical understanding of dance will help you internalize your teacher’s corrections, because you’ll appreciate the physical consequences (injuries!) of improper technique.

MODIFY. “There’s no shame in modifying!” Kinney stresses. Modifications to technique, such as not going on relevé due to foot pain, allow your body to heal without keeping you from the studio.

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. “The body will know when something isn’t right,” Kinney says. Early symptoms of pain and discomfort are warning signs of potentially more serious injuries.

 

(Illustration by Eastnine Inc./thinkstock.com)

Did you know?

Controlling your playlist while you exercise can have real benefits. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences found that individuals who controlled the music they listened to were able to exercise longer than those who passively listened to music playing in the background. The researchers call this effect jymmin, a mix between gym and jamming. So next time you’re feelin’ the burn, make sure you’ve got your best playlist ready to go

 

 

(Photo by Dave King/thinkstock.com)

 

Don’t pour out the liquid at the top of your yogurt cup! It’s filled with nutrients like calcium, vitamin D and probiotics. If it weirds you out, try stirring it in or saving it for a smoothie.

Between academic classes, dance classes, homework and trying to hang on to a social life, you’re busy every day. With a schedule like that, who has time to hit the gym? But just because you can’t log a sweat session on the treadmill or hit the free weights doesn’t mean you can’t tone up a few times a week. DS sought out Rachel Piskin, co-founder of ChaiseFitness, to find out which exercises are ideal for dancers who can only spare 10 minutes a day.

You'll Need: A Thera-Band

Exercise 1: Banded Pliés

Where you'll feel the burn: glutes and thighs

Fold your Thera-Band in half and hold one end in each hand. Stand in a wide second position, with your legs turned out, and extend your arms straight in front of you at shoulder height.Plié as you reach your arms overhead, keeping them straight. Return to the starting position. Repeat 20 times.

Piskin says: “Keep your shoulders down and create more resistance in the band as you plié.”

Exercise 2: Heel Lifts

Where you'll feel the burn: thighs

Begin in the same starting position as Exercise 1.

Lower into a deep second plié.

Staying in plié, lift both heels off the ground as you extend your arms straight overhead. Remaining in plié, lower your heels and arms. Repeat heel lift 20 times.

Piskin says: “Keep your core and glutes engaged throughout the exercise so your heels and arms move together in one smooth progression.”

Exercise 3: Pull the Sword

Where you'll feel the burn: back muscles and triceps

Stand in parallel with both feet on top of the Thera-Band, hips-distance apart. Hold the long end of the band in your left hand, in front of your right thigh. Keep your right hand on your hip.

Pull the band on a diagonal toward the ceiling, bending the elbow as you pull and then extending your arm straight. Return to the starting position. Do two sets of 12 and then repeat on the opposite side.

Piskin says: “Keep your working wrist straight so you’re isolating and sculpting your back and arm muscles, not your wrist.”

Exercise 4: Arm-Extension Curtsy

Where you'll feel the burn: arms, glutes and hamstrings

Stand on the middle of the band with your left foot, turned out. Point your right leg behind you, staying on the ball of your foot so you’re in a curtsy position. Hold one end of the band in each hand, with your arms by your sides.

Pull your arms up and out to your sides as you lower into a deep curtsy. Return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times and then switch sides.

Piskin says: “Keep your back leg parallel to the floor. As you curtsy, you should feel like you’re crossing your legs in a chair—this will engage and sculpt your glutes and hamstrings. You can make it harder by pulsing 10 times in the low curtsy position.”

Exercise 5: Bicep Cross Curtsy

Where you'll feel the burn: biceps and glutes

Begin in the same starting position as Exercise 4, but cross the band in front of you and hold one end in each hand, with your palms facing the ceiling.

As you curtsy, curl your fists in toward your body, working the bicep muscles. Straighten your legs and return your arms to the starting position. Do two sets of 10 and then switch sides.

Piskin says: “Keep your elbows tight to your body so you’re working your bicep muscles, not using momentum.”

Exercise 6: Arabesque Arm Extensions

Where you'll feel the burn: upper back, thighs and glutes

Stand on the center of the band with your left foot, bending your left leg slightly. Hold an end of the band in each hand and tendu your right foot back. Keep your focus on the ground in front of you.

Lift your right leg to arabesque as you pull the bands out to your sides. Lower your leg and arms to return to the starting position. Repeat 12 times and then switch sides.

Piskin says: “Keep your standing leg bent and focus on engaging your core to stabilize your body.”

Photography by Erin Baiano; hair and makeup by Chuck Jensen for Mark Edward Inc., modeled by Rachel Piskin.

Whether you’re rocking pink tights or booty shorts, a pair of toned hamstrings can be your best accessory onstage. Strong hamstrings give you a long, lean look by evening out your thighs and keeping your quads from getting bulky. Even better? They power développés that reach toward the sky, not the horizon. “Once your leg passes 90 degrees, it’s the hamstrings—not the quads—that hold it there,” says Jessica Sander, a personal trainer and freelance dancer in NYC. “They’re the keys to high extensions.”

Build these exercises into your routine three to four times a week, and you’ll start to see—and feel—results in about a month. Just make sure you don’t simply go through the motions. “The hamstrings don’t always fire on their own—other parts of the body like to take the work,” warns Sander. “So for all of these, pay close attention to your form.”

You’ll need:

1. a stability ball

2. a set of 10-lb. weights

Do each move 15–20 times. Rest, then repeat.

Dead Lift

Stand in parallel with your feet directly under your hips. Hold a 10-lb. weight in each hand, with your palms facing your thighs.

Hinge from your hips with a flat back and lower the weights to just above your feet, keeping your hands close to your shins and your head in line with your spine. Initiate from your hamstrings to slowly return to the standing position.

Sander says: “In the flat back position, let your legs be relaxed, but pull your abs in.”

Single-Leg Bridge

Lie on your back with one leg reaching straight up to the ceiling, and the opposite foot flat on the floor with the knee bent.

Slowly raise your hips until your knees, hips and shoulders come into a straight diagonal line, then return to the floor. Switch legs after a set of 15–20 reps. You should feel the burn in your supporting leg.

Sander says: “Don’t use that leg in the air for momentum—keep it perpendicular to the floor the whole time. This is a small, controlled movement.”

Quadraped Hamstring Curl

Start on your hands and knees, making sure your hips are over your knees and your shoulders are over your wrists. Reach one leg straight back, lifting it off the floor so it’s parallel to the ground and in line with your hip.Without letting your quad drop or your hips move, engage your glutes and bend your working knee until your shin is perpendicular to the floor, then straighten. Switch legs after a set of 15­–20 reps.Sander says: “Keep your abs pulling up the whole time so your back doesn’t arch.”

Hamstring Rollout

Start by lying on your back, with your knees bent in tight and a stability ball under your heels, as close to you as possible.

As you exhale, press your feet into the ball to lift your hips. Keep your shoulders and neck relaxed—there should be space between your chest and chin.

Keeping your core engaged, straighten your legs to roll the ball away from you, and then draw it back. Repeat 15–20 times. The goal is to keep your hips up in the air the entire time, but if you need to modify the exercise, you can come down between repetitions.

Sander says: “You have to engage your glutes for this one, or you’ll get a charley horse in your hamstrings.”

Watch it! Click here to see Jessica Sander walk our fabulously fit model, Elizabeth Yilmaz, through these moves.

 

 

Jessica Sander, a personal trainer certified by ACE, AFFA and Stott Pilates, holds a BFA in dance from Towson University. Elizabeth Yilmaz is a freelance dancer based in NYC.

Photography by Erin Baiano. Hair and makeup by Chuck Jensen for Mark Edward Inc. Modeled by Elizabeth Yilmaz. Clothing provided by Jo+Jax.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(iStock)

TURKEY DAY TROUBLES?

A four-day weekend of feasting with family is supposed to be an all-around good thing. But if you’re a serious dancer, the stress of spending Thanksgiving away from your training regimen might leave you feeling less than thankful for the time off. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to make the most of the holiday, so you’ll be ready to hit the studio when you get back from Grandma’s. Here are a few easy suggestions. —Helen Hope Rolfe

Turn family time into fitness time! Bring along a beginner-level yoga or Pilates video for the living room TV, and Aunt Sally might just join you in a downward dog.

Corral your cousins for a trip to the playground, or volunteer to take the dog for a brisk walk around the neighborhood. You’ll feel helpful and healthy at the same time.

If you choose to give yourself a quick barre indoors, use caution. Chances are you’re not used to dancing full-out in rooms crowded with furniture, and ordinary flooring isn’t designed to support strenuous exercise. To stay on the safe side, limit jumping and expansive movements (like grands battements and pirouettes).

Relax. If you never give yourself a break, you’ll be much more likely to burn out early on in your dance career. Success in any field depends on balancing the hard work with “having a life,” so savor this chance to connect with your loved ones and enjoy non-dance pleasures. When Thanksgiving break is over, you’ll feel more energized and inspired to dance than ever before.

 

(iStock)

BUBBLICIOUS

Feeling that midday slump (oh, math class)? Pop a piece of gum into your mouth. According to researchers at Cardiff University in the U.K., chewing gum can stimulate your brain and increase alertness—which means it may help you keep your energy up for that 4 pm dance class. —Michael Anne Bailey

 

(iStock)

DID YOU KNOW?

Don’t take Advil or Motrin right after spraining your ankle. You should wait 48 hours to take an anti-inflammatory drug. That will allow your body’s natural swelling and healing process to kick in first. Instead, start with acetaminophen (like Tylenol) to help with the pain. —MAB

 

TAKE IT EASY

When you’re constantly surrounded by mirrors and talented dancers, it can be tough not to be self-critical. But according to a study published in the Journal of Research in Personality, cutting yourself some slack can do wonders for your health (and your dancing!), making you happier, more optimistic and more willing to take personal initiative. —MAB

 

(iStock)

Want flirty, longer-looking lashes? Apply an extra swipe or two of mascara to the outer edges of your lashline. It will make your eyes pop without being too over the top.

One of my favorite things to do in NYC is to check out new fitness classes. I get to edit the Body section of Dance Spirit (including Health, Nutrition, Mind and Fitness stories), so not only do I get to break a solid sweat, but it's also technically considered research for my job! Two birds, one...water bottle?

This week, I was pumped to try the newest hot class in the city—Body Conceptions by Mahri—and I dragged fellow DS editors Michael and Rachel with me! (They're still a little bit mad at me...something about being "OMG so sore, I hate you!!!")

But we had a blast working out together, and I wholeheartedly recommend Mahri's class. Here's why:

  • Um, Mahri is gorgeous. Like the kind of the kind of pretty you can't look at directly or you'll burn your retinas from all the hotness.
  • But you can't hate her—she's probably the nicest person I've ever taken class with. So she's basically perfect. I'm still awaiting her response about my request to "please teach me everything you know about being beautiful and sweet."
  • The class is ideal for dancers. You start with some simple stretching to get warm, followed by 15 minutes of cardio. Think lots of jumping jacks and fun side-to-side, forward-and-back dance moves. Next, you get into the strength training portion of class. We used 2-lb. weights (don't underestimate the power of tiny dumbbells!) to do lots of small movements and pulsing. Then we moved into lower-body stuff, like lunges and curtsy-squats, and my legs were visibly shaking. Then I was excited because we got to "come down onto the mat," but that didn't mean we got any sort of break. Instead, we did some ab work (my favorite) and bum exercises, which were killer. Finally, we wrapped up class with some return-to-high-energy dancing in the dark (yup, really).

So go check it out. You'll love Mahri and I promise you'll feel the burn. Remember: stronger body, stronger dancer.

Mahri's classes take place at the Dance New Amsterdam studios and your first class is only $20.

Dance Team

courtesy Madison Square Garden

The Knicks City Dancers are perhaps the most iconic sideline stars in the NBA. From their hard-hitting center court routines to the time they spend mingling with fans in the stands, the 22 members of the KCD work hard to live up to their well-deserved reputation.

The 2011–12 season marks the KCD’s 20th anniversary. The current team features a diverse group of gorgeous girls, like Ana, who hails from Brazil; Sierra, who spends her off-court time as a professional DJ; and Alyssa, who went to school for kinesiology and applied physiology.

Being a member of the team, which performs at all New York Knicks home games at Madison Square Garden, requires more than just stellar technique and a totally toned body. These young women all have side jobs or additional careers, and many are in graduate school. “Being a Knicks City Dancer is a part-time job but a full-time commitment,” says Sierra, a five-year team veteran and current co-captain.

Think you’re cut out for a career with the KCD? Dance Spirit got team members Ally, Sierra and Sarahbeth to dish about what it takes to snag a spot on the squad. Take notes—all three girls made the team on the first try!

Each dancer on the team (except the caption and co-captains) has to re-audition every season. "It keeps us on our toes," Ally says.

Ally, Sierra and Sarahbeth's Top 10 Knicks City Dancers Tryout Tips

1 Arrive at the audition at least an hour early. “Get a good place in line,” Ally says. “You don’t want to be left waiting outside.”

2 Wear a flattering, eye-catching audition outfit. “I’m an athletic person, so I always wear a sports bra and shorts,” Ally says. “Never wear all black or all white. Add a pop of color that’s noticeable—you want to stand out—but not overwhelming. Make sure the judges can see your body. They want to see that it’s healthy, but remember that healthy doesn’t necessarily just mean skinny.” Adds Sierra: “You should feel great in your audition outfit. You go to the gym and take dance classes—don’t hide your hard work!”

3 Be stage-ready. “Come with full hair and makeup,” Sarahbeth says.

4 When you walk into the audition, look like you’re already a part of the team. “Check out the KCD website beforehand to figure out the team’s look,” Sierra says. “Don’t lose your personal style, but adopt theirs and work it into your own.” It’s also crucial to research the team’s history. “Learn about past team members and routines,” Sarahbeth says.

5 Eat properly on audition day. Tryouts often last an entire day, so fuel up. “Eat a well-balanced breakfast—I’m a big fan of oatmeal, bananas and coconut water—and make sure you’re hydrated,” Ally says.

6 Show off your dance training. “Remember that great dancing stems from your technique. It’s not just about performance quality,” Sierra says.

7 Be ready to learn choreography quickly. “We learn a routine in one night, clean it

the next night and then perform it later that week,” Sierra says. “Being able to pick up moves fast will help you throughout the year.”

8 go front and center—at least at first. “You don’t want to be hidden, and if you stand front and center during the audition it shows initiative,” Sarahbeth says. “Eventually you’ll take turns in front, but try to get there at the beginning.”

9 Prepare for an interview. KCD hopefuls who advance to the second round have individual interviews with the judges. “Let them get to know you on a personal level,” Sierra says. “Tell them exactly why you were made for their team.”

10 Attend a clinic. The KCD hold clinics throughout the tristate area during the year. “They’re mock auditions,” Sarahbeth says. Going to a clinic will prepare you for everything the judges may throw your way at the actual tryout. You’ll learn routines from the previous year’s audition and the current dancers will teach the technical tricks often incorporated in the KCD choreography. It’s an instant leg up on the competition!

Michelle Harris, director of entertainment marketing for the New York Knicks, is a former Knicks City Dancer and captain. Her top audition tip? “Find out what sets you apart from every other dancer—then highlight that. Tumbling will definitely give you an advantage.”

HOW TO LOOK HOT (Knicks City Dancer Hot!)

The Knicks City Dancers work hard for those flat abs and rock-hard thighs! Here are Sarahbeth’s favorite KCD-approved exercises and healthy-living tips:

Always warm up. “You don’t want to dance with cold muscles. Do jumping jacks or crunches, take a quick jog or hold a plank before it’s time to perform.”

Work your core. “I do 200 crunches when I wake up and 200 before I go to bed. I include oblique exercises, like twisting crunches, and I do standing side bends with dumbbells in my hands (50 bends on each side). I finish up with three rounds of two-minute planks, with short breaks in between.” [DS says: Sarahbeth is hardcore! Start with a 20-second plank and build from there until you can hold it for two minutes.]

Pump up your arms. “I do 20 tricep dips (use a sturdy bench, table or chair for support) between rounds of planks.”

Get rest. “I like to get seven to eight hours of sleep a night. It’s not always possible with a crazy schedule, but I try.”

Hydrate. “Don’t drink soda. I carry a big jug of water around with me all day, and I’m constantly refilling it.”

THE KNICKS CITY DANCERS BY THE NUMBERS

500 women audition for the team each year. They come from all over the country and the world.

30 finalists are selected to attend the KCD training camp. After an open call, the finalists go through a series of rehearsals and fitness tests so the judges can see what their work ethic is like.

22 women made the team for the 2011–12 season, including a captain and two co-captains.

10+ hours are spent rehearsing each week, plus two additional hours on game days.

14–18 dancers are on the floor each night. The entire team doesn’t perform during games. The bigger the game, the more dancers are on the floor.

19,463 seats are in Madison Square Garden, where the Knicks City Dancers perform.

33 performance nights are planned for the current season. The dancers perform at every home game, plus playoffs. In a regular season there are 41 home games, but there are only

33 this season due to the NBA lockout at the beginning of the season.

30 routines are performed by the KCD throughout the season.

4+ is the number of times the team performs per game. The girls take the floor for two full routines, during player introductions and during fourth-quarter “hype” timeouts.

5 pairs of shoes are worn by each team member: sneakers, boots (two pairs), character shoes and appearance high heels.

13 costumes are worn by each dancer throughout the season.

MEET THE DANCERS

Ally

Ally

Years on the team: 3

Dance training: Ally went to high school at the New World School of the Arts in her hometown of Miami, FL. She graduated with a BFA from the Ailey/Fordham program and then went on to dance with Complexions Contemporary Ballet. She joined the KCD soon after.

Why KCD? “I love concert dance, but

I wanted a wider range of exposure. On a dance team we get to travel, perform all the time and dance on a 360-degree stage.”

Favorite thing about being a KCD: “My teammates. They are all driven, amazing dancers.”

Best KCD perk: “Performing at MSG!”

Advice for KCD hopefuls: “You’re in the public eye. Having a wonderful, positive personality goes a long way.”

Non-KCD job: Ally is a model with Wilhelmina Models and has been the face of the Under Armour women’s line for three years. She is also a backup dancer for Pitbull.

Hobbies: “I love to cook—especially chicken stew! I also love planners, notebooks and pens. Every year I devote a week to finding a perfect planner.”

Sierra

Sierra

Years on the team: 5 (currently co-captain)

Dance training: Sierra trained in ballet and pointe for 14 years in Lincoln, NE, and attended summer intensives at Boston Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and the Joffrey Ballet. After high school, she moved to NYC and joined the KCD.

Why KCD? “This team represents NYC. The women are strong, talented and classy.”

Best KCD perk: Working with the Garden of Dreams Foundation. “We help make dreams come true for kids facing various obstacles. When you spend time with the kids you get this amazing feeling, knowing you can affect someone else’s life.”

Advice for KCD hopefuls: “Remember that this is a team, and at the end of the day we walk onto the court as a group. It’s not just you out there—we work together.”

Non-KCD job: Sierra is a model, teaches ballet and pointe at a dance studio on Long Island, NY, and is a DJ for STADJ, a company for model/DJs. “I didn’t have DJ experience before, but the company trained me,” she says.

Hobby: “I just started playing the guitar. I can play ‘Firework’ by Katy Perry.”

Sarahbeth

Sarahbeth

Years on the team: 5

Dance training: Sarahbeth began dancing when she was 4 in Long Island, NY. She trained in all styles and danced with her high school dance/kickline team. After years of competing with both her studio and high school and attending summer intensives at New York City Dance Alliance and American Ballet Theatre, Sarahbeth went on to Marymount Manhattan College. She graduated last May with a major in dance and minor in business.

Why KCD? “Growing up, I watched Knicks games with my father, and I would always watch the dance team. I used to go on the KCD website to check out the dancers. I wanted to be a part of that.”

Best KCD perk: “Traveling. We’ve been to China, Taiwan, Milan, Paris, India, the Philippines and Abu Dhabi for events.”

Advice for KCD hopefuls: “Take classes! You have to be versatile. You can’t just be a hip-hop or jazz dancer. We incorporate everything from musical theater to ballet in our routines.”

Non-KCD job: Sarahbeth coaches her former dance and kickline team in Smithtown, Long Island.

 

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