Dream Job: Being a Laker Girl
By Steven Lieberman
Every July, there is summer excitement brewing at the Toyota Sports Center, the Lakers headquarters and practice facility in El Segundo. No, it wasn't the news that Jeremy Lin was just traded to the Lakers from the Rockets. There were over 450 capable young women trying out to become a dancer for next season's Laker Girls dance team. And one capable male was even in the mix this time.
It was an open audition, a cattle call. The only requirements - be 18 years of age, have eight years of dance experience (recommended, but not necessary), wear a leotard and flesh colored tights, and bring a headshot with resume. That's all it takes to try out.
Current Laker Girls have to audition every year. Being a Laker Girl one season doesn't guarantee a spot on next season's team. It's like the yearly company performance review. If a dancer hasn't been training during the off-season, it will show in the audition.
First, the entire group was taught the short dance combination that they would eventually perform in groups of three in the second round while Laker Girls director and choreographer Lisa Estrada watched and judged, along with the other panel of judges. Then Estrada, former Laker Girl from 1987 to 1992, had the difficult task of deciding who to keep for the second round and who to cut.
By late morning, the group had been narrowed down to 125. After further auditions and a personal interview the following week, Estrada hopes to have her team of 22.
The process is a bit similar to a beauty pageant in that the 35 dancers who make it to the personal interview will then be judged on personality and life interests.
This is a shot at a life-long dream for many of the dancers to become a Laker Girl. Some come with high expectations, while others are just happy to get the chance to audition.
One hopeful is Whittier, CA native, Brittany Spencer. This is the fourth year trying out for this 21 year old dancer who made it to the final round last year. She's been dancing since the age of three and when not trying out for the Laker Girls, she is a Pixar Bug dancer in the Pixar Play Parade at Disneyland in Anaheim.
This is how Spencer got her inspiration to be a dancer.
"My mom was watching a Lakers game on TV and I tried to dance like the Laker Girls," Spencer said. "I was only three years old and my mom saw that I had talent."
When I asked a current Laker Girl what it takes to maintain a smile throughout an entire game, she said, "We love what we do, so it comes natural." She prepared for the audition by eating healthy, exercising and taking dance classes.
Good luck to the 22 dancers who will eventually make the team and be seen at the Staples Center doing their twirls, high kicks and ballet-style leaps.