Laker Girls tryout a call to dance excellence

The audition call for the 2018-2019 Los Angeles Laker Girls had the team's practice facility full of activity and dance routines on Sunday, July 8, 2018. Photo by Astrud Reed for News4usonline

EL SEGUNDO, CA-The wait. The anticipation. The constant movement. The call for action. Nerves were quieted by stretching and warm-up exercises before the show actually begun. Those hoping to become part of the 2018-2019 Los Angeles Laker Girls dance and cheer team on Sunday, July 8, would be met with dance routines that would challenge their artistic experience.

Being part of the storied NBA dance and cheer team, a squad that boasts of famed alumni Paula Abdul, means a lot to the participants who braved the daylong push of scrutinized dance routines.

There were many participants trying out to make the 2018-2019 Los Angeles Laker Girls team on Sunday, July 8, 2018. Photo by Astrud Reed for News4usonline

For dancer Fabiolah, going out for the Laker Girls team was a matter of fulfilling a lifetime aspiration, one that has in part been fueled by her admiration for Abdul, she says.

“To be honest, I’m kind of filling out a bucket list,” Fabiolah said. “I’ve always admired Paula Abdul, and I’m fulfilling that as far as the dancing part. Hopefully, I’ll be following in her footsteps. That’s my passion.”

Several hundred dancers made their way to El Segundo, California, to take part in the Los Angeles Laker Girls audition on Sunday, July 8, 2018. Photo by Astrud Reed for News4usonline

A former gymnast and currently a personal trainer with a dance background in hip hop, freestyle, tap, and jazz, that still wasn’t enough to ease the anxiety that Fabiolah came to the audition with. With this being the first tryout she’s ever had for a professional sports team, the Laker Girls audition raised the barometer of her stress level considerably, she said.

“I have never tried out. This would be my first time trying out,” said Fabiolah. “[I’m] Extremely nervous.”

Los Angeles Lakers Director of Game Operations/Entertainment Lisa Estrada at the center of the 2018-2019 Laker Girls audition. Photo by Astrud Reed for News4usonline

Fabiolah was not the only dancer drenched in worrisome nerves. Troi is a veteran when it comes to these type of open dance calls. The Laker Girls tryout was her sixth such audition for an NBA team. She also tried out to make the dance and cheer teams of the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks before eventually re-locating to the City of Angels. All that experience under her belt didn’t keep her from fretting about trying to nail a spot to become a Laker Girl.

“I’m excited. I’m super nervous,” Troi said. “This is my first time in Los Angeles. I’m really, really nervous. I’m hoping I get it.”

Veteran dancer Troi (purple and gold) came to the Los Angeles Laker Girls audition on Sunday, July 8, hoping that her experience in trying out for other NBA teams would serve her well during the open dance call. Photo by Astrud Reed for News4usonline

Knowledge of the process and what judges tend to look for was something that Troi hoped would play in her favor.

“First, it’s your looks,” Troi said. “Then it’s can you hit the tricks? Do you meet the qualifications as far as your body type? Can you articulate? Do you know how to work a crowd? Do you know how to represent? Are you a brand ambassador for the team? All of those criteria I’ve been working on to meet the criteria of a dance team.”

Zoe believes she fits the bill to be a Laker Girl with her bubbly enthusiasm and the boundless energy she brings to the table. A longtime dancer, Zoe said she wanted to expand her dance horizons by attending and participating in the Laker Girl audition.

A Los Angeles Laker Girls alum show how it’s done during the squad’s 2018-2019 audition on Sunday, July, 8, 2018. Photo by Astrud Reed for News4usonline

“I’ve been trying to step outside of my dancing realm,” Zoe said. “I have a great personality, I’m super energetic. I love to dance. It’s something that I do. I bring a lot of personality to the world, and I think that I should share that with people.”

If she were to make the team, Zoe said it would be proof that the sports dance team stage would not be too big for her.

“It would mean that I do have what it takes, and that I am working hard for something,” Zoe said. “I’ve worked my buns off for this.”

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1287 Articles
Dennis is a news and sports photojournalist. Dennis has covered and written on issues such as civil rights, education, politics, and social justice. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Daily Breeze, Daily Press, Los Angeles Wave, Los Angeles Sentinel, and other media outlets. Dennis is currently the editor and publisher of News4usonline. He covers the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, and NCAA. Dennis is an alum and graduate of Howard University.