Wellington tells her Brooklynettes to dance larger than life during stadium performances
Though a timeout routine lasts only a minute and 20 seconds, when it comes to choreography, Brooklyn Nets dance team coach Adar Wellington is slow and methodical. “I listen to a song about 75,000 times before I start moving my body. I need a week or two to visualize it,” says the former New Jersey Nets dancer who has danced with Rihanna, P. Diddy and Kanye West and performed in Las Vegas’ Peepshow. “The routine is short, but each moment has to be dynamic.” Once she has an idea of how she wants the piece to look, Wellington uses graph paper to plot dancers’ positions on the basketball court. Because most of the audience has a bird’s eye view of the stage, formations need to shift constantly to keep the routine exciting. “Working in a stadium, you need to stage things very visually,” she says. “Going from X’s to diagonals to circles and zigzags, there’s a lot you can do. And it all has to be really big and high-energy.”
When the Nets moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn last year, Wellington used the team’s yearly auditions to freshen up her roster. She looked for dancers who embody the edginess of the new neighborhood and new dance team name, the Brooklynettes. “It’s that confidence that’s so hard to teach,” she says. “I told them, ‘Even if you’re messing up, I want to see you problem-solve in that moment, freestyle your way out of it and catch up when you can.’ I encouraged them to really perform it and dance it larger than life. If it feels too big, too extreme, then it’s probably correct. You really can’t dance too big for an arena that seats 19,000 people.”
“I printed the basketball court on graph paper, so during practice each dancer gets a grid to look at. They can see exactly where they’re supposed to be. I have them take it home and study it.”
Wellington uses the Dance Formations Plus! app for iPad, a catalog of over 80 formations for 5–18 dancers. “It helps me brainstorm new formations on the spot.”
To warm up, Wellington wears leggings, sneakers (Bloch shown) and a tank top with a sweatshirt or sweater wrap.
“I’m a member at Crunch Fitness in Brooklyn. They have great group classes and personal trainers to keep my workout fresh.”
Photos from top: by Adam Pantozzi, courtesy of Adar Wellington; ©istockphoto.com (2); courtesy of manufacturer; by Emily Giacalone