The New York Jets players aren't the only ones who have begun working hard for the coming season. The increasingly popular Jets Flight Crew also kicked off its third year with the first of three prep classes in Florham Park, N.J., on Tuesday night, leading up to auditions in a week and a half.
Flight Crew director Denise Garvey is again overseeing the classes, auditions and the Crew itself, and she says the experience never gets old.
"It's still new. I saw some really good talent last night," Garvey said today. "Just to see that new talent, to see that energy ... there will be open spots up for grabs on this year's Flight Crew. It's really fun to see the girls want it and work for it. It's very exciting."
Although many from last year's 22-member squad will be auditioning again, many openings will be filled by new candidates.
"Obviously, the girls who were on the team last year and are trying out again have the experience of dancing in front of 80,000 people. It's something they hold in their back pockets," Garvey said. "That being said, we're looking to better the team every year. The girls from last year, they know that more is expected of them. They might've done a great job last year, but every year we're trying to get better as a squad. We need more."
Garvey also doesn't think it's a bad idea for any new candidates to want more prep classes. The classes aren't required to participate in the first round of auditions May 2 and the semifinal round the next day, both at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Florham Park. But if any candidate liked what she saw at Tuesday's session, she can attend either or both of the two remaining classes as well.
"They're intended to help everyone," Garvey said. "You can get personal feedback, ask your own questions, get advice and tips from the director. And it's a chance to learn choreography that the Flight Crew actually does. I think it's really invaluable."
The Long Island prep class is set for Tuesday, April 28, from 7-9 p.m. at the David Mack Sports Complex at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. The New York City class will be held Thursday, April 30, from 7-9 p.m. at Chelsea Studios, 151 W. 26th St., New York. The fee for each class is $25. You can find the registration form for both classes here.
All candidates who plan to audition must be preregistered. You can find the audition application here. You can find the audition application form and audition information here.
What can you expect for the classes ahead? Here are some elements from Tuesday's class at Lifetime Fitness in Florham Park, attended by 30 Flight Crew prospects:
* Participating in a warmup period that the Flight Crew members typically go through before game appearances.
* Learning a routine that the Crew used last season to see the style of dance and the speed at which members learn and execute routines.
* Discussions on how the auditions are run.
* Tips on hair, makeup and exercise.
"I definitely want to encourage those who came out to the first prep class that they can attend the second and third classes," Garvey said. "At next week's classes, we're going to be doing two more routines that we did last year and it's a good opportunity for people to see the styles and to be able to try them. One of the most important things in auditioning is being able to pick up choreography quickly and to get used to that competitive atmosphere."
That's one of the key benefits of these classes.
"We concentrate on the performance aspect of the Flight Crew," she said, "how to make yourself stand out at the auditions. Everybody's doing the same choreography, so how do you make yourself stand out?"
But the emphasis at the classes leading up to the auditions is on cooperation.
"The ambience is really fun and supportive," Garvey said. "The girls felt comfortable about asking what to expect and what I'm looking for. And we offered tips for making themselves feel the most confident that they can heading to the auditions."
The Jets Flight Crew has grown in stature and visibility its first two years of existence. Year 3 has already begun, and this year's prep classes are a great way to become a part of the experience.