Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 9/12/12
ST. FRANCIS, Wis. In front of a crowd of 75 hopeful women decked out in dance gear, ready to live out what, for many of them, was a long-time dream Milwaukee Bucks vice President of business operations John Steinmiller announced a new beginning for the Bucks and the gameday experience surrounding them. "Our whole experience in the Bradley Center is based on entertainment," he announced. "We're starting a new era, and it's going to be an exciting era." That new era for the Bucks' dance team, Energee!, hit the ground running Tuesday night with a mass tryout at the Cousins Center, as new dance team director Tricia Crawford stood proudly raised above the room of dancers. Hired just last Friday, Crawford admitted that the process had been a whirlwind since then. But with six years of experience dancing in the NBA with the Detroit Pistons' Automotion, Crawford had always planned on this being her next step forward. And with her own personal step forward, she hopes to take Energee! forward as well, with a new style and a new vision. "I think Energee! is really embraced by the community here in Milwaukee, and I'm excited to carry that torch," Crawford said. "But I have some new ideas and a fresh set of eyes, and I want to keep the program growing and see what else we can add. I would just love to see them involved more in the gameday events and out in the community as much as possible. But also, the vision I have as far as the performances are just really high-energy, really enthusiastic performances." Energy and enthusiasm were the first things Crawford said she was looking for as the grueling tryout process began after 7 p.m. Tuesday. And with a new regime comes a new set of auditions, as Crawford has added an extra step to what already was a complex tryout system. After two cuts on Tuesday night one after a very basic routine meant to show fundamental dance skills and another at the end of the tryout the remaining dancers will be called back on Wednesday night for a semifinal round. Then, after a third round of cuts, the group will be sent to a two-day dance boot camp. And finally, those finalists will audition live in a public audition next Wednesday to gauge how they interact with fans and the community. That final, new step to the audition is what Crawford is most excited about, as it represents an opportunity for her to see dancers actually interact with the fans that they have to entertain on gameday. "We're looking for dancers that can be good ambassadors for the Bucks on and off the court," Crawford said. "That goes from their dance ability, to how they interact with others, to how their body language is when they think nobody is looking at them. But the most important thing is to find those girls who are excited to be here and can really entertain a crowd." And with the season around the corner, Crawford is eager to put her new team together from the 75 or so dancers that originallystood on the Cousins Center court on Tuesday, a mix of former Energee! members, college students, and others from the community. It's time to hit the ground running, she said with a smile ready to embark on a new vision and a new year for Energee! "I hope that on gameday they see that the Energee! dance team has a stronger presence in the arena," Crawford said. "Not just on the court but up in the stands and out doing promotions. I want them to be more visible." Follow Ryan Kartje on Twitter.
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