Photo Gallery: 66ers Dance Team auditions

SAN BERNARDINO - The sounds of pop music blared from a boombox inside the Inland Empire 66ers clubhouse on Saturday morning.

Aspiring dancers lined up and took turns demonstrating their twirling and high-kicking abilities before getting that chance to show that one signature move that may be enough to earn one's spot on the dance crew.

Their hopes were set on a spot on the 66ers' minor league baseball team's dance squad.

"I love the dance, it's really energetic, and I feel like the Dance Team at the games to really pump up the crowd and get into it," said nursing student Meredith Oliver, 22, of Moreno Valley during a break from the auditioning process.

Oliver said she is a nursing student at UC Riverside and danced with the team previously in 2010. She was among roughly 20 women competing for seven to 10 open spots on the Inland Empire 66ers' dance squad.

Dancers earning a place on the team must make a year-long commitment to represent the 66ers at 70 home games and as many as 50 community events, said Byron Marquez, director of community relations for the 66ers.

The dance team also performs for the Ontario Reign minor league hockey team.

As the day's auditions were about to start, Marquez's tone was businesslike when he advised the dancers that "if you can't make this commitment, I don't want you on this team."

"They presented themselves really well as to how serious they are," said dancer Amanda Gojuangco, a 21-year-old UC Riverside student planning a career in public relations.

"I'm just trying my best. I'm so nervous right now," she added.

Team dancer Maria B. led the aspiring dancers through the kinds of routines they would perform if they win a job, offering advice and encouragement along the way:

"I want to see big sexy walks."

"Use that booty."

"Whip that hair."

The winning dancers can expect to put in a lot of time, but also have a lot of fun, said current team dancer Melanie Zecca, another UC Riverside student.

"I tell them, `Be ready for a life-changing experience," Zecca said. "That's why some of them stay on the team for years."


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