The Brooklynettes’ director of entertainment Criscia Long and entertainment coordinator Shenay Rivers (fourth and fifth left, respectively), flanked by the six Barbadian dancers chosen. From left are Aisha Comissiong, Zhane Padmore, Asha Weekes, Nandi Yard, Keisha Dowridge and Shameka Walters. (Picture by Tre Greaves.)
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SIX BARBADIAN WOMEN faced their fears, overcame self-doubt and danced their way into the hearts of an international group.
In a few months, Nandi Yard, Zhane Padmore, Shameka Walters, Keisha Dowridge, Asha Weekes and Aisha Comissiong will be able to say proudly, “I danced with the Brooklynettes”, the official athletic dancers of the Brooklyn Nets in the United States National Basketball Association (NBA).
Director of entertainment Criscia Long said they had intended to pick only two local dancers to join them for Barbados Night on April 3 at the Barclays Center in New York.
“Once we saw the talent and passion, I personally wanted to provide more opportunity because I felt like there is no way I could select only two dancers from this amazing group of women.
“So we pushed this number up to four and then last night [Saturday] after hearing them share their stories, I had to push it to six,” Long said.
After they were selected during a reception at Ocean Two Resort in Dover, Christ Church, yesterday, the women expressed their delight.
Walters, 27, said there had been people in her ear suggesting that she not waste her time. But, like previous auditions, she used it as a teaching tool.
“For me, it has always been a case of being judged for your size rather than your talent or personality.
So, I’ve always just used that as fuel to go into any and everything. Even if they say they want people that are 5’ 11”, I would still turn up at the audition because I’m going to use it as something to learn,” she said.
“I wasn’t expecting it and it made me feel so good about overcoming the fears I had about my body type and what people would say,” 35-year-old Dowridge told the NATION.
The youngest, Asha Weekes, 20, said she initially felt she was not as talented as the others but still auditioned.
“Even though I’ve been training for so long, I didn’t consider myself a technical dancer . . . . But then I said, ‘Just go, don’t beat yourself up, just try’,” she said.
Padmore, Yard and Comissiong are members of local group Riddim Tribe who have been building names for themselves in several areas. They have performed on the Wendy Williams show in the US.
Yard said they hoped to set a good example for other Barbadians trying to make it.
“We are a bunch of talented people here who are often overlooked because we’re the little small island, but we definitely have a lot to offer,” she said.
The audition was the latest step in the ongoing relationship between the Brooklyn Nets and Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., which senior business development officer Eusi Skeete said had been fruitful.
In the past, the Brooklynettes have taken photographs for their calendars in Barbados. Since 2015, Barbadian singers such as Alison Hinds, Nikita and Mahalia have sung the Star Spangled Banner on Barbados Night.
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