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Bright lights, big city


WLHS grad earns spot on New York Knicks NBA dance team

Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO:  - Groh, posing in her new uniform for the New York Knicks City Dancers. On June 21, when Maddie Groh showed up for her first tryout with the Knicks City Dancers— the dance team for the NBA’s New York Knicks — the West Linn native was nervous, but also confident.

Under such high stakes, she knew she had to come in with a positive attitude. Plus, she had been dancing since she was 3 years old, dabbling in ballet, hip hop and acrobatic dancing. In high school, she was a member of the performance team at Dance Vision Studio in Oregon City. How many people could have more experience than she did?

And so, even though the odds were against her (between 400 and 500 women tried out for a team of 20 dancers), Groh found herself on the right side of the first cut. Then the second. And a third.

Suddenly, Groh made it through the first day, and her excitement began to grow. She danced her way through three more days of callbacks, learning new choreography and then performing it on the spot before new cuts were made.

By the end of the week, she was officially named a Knicks City Dancer.

“You have to be confident when you’re trying out for something like this,” Groh said. “I just went in with a positive attitude, and was super excited when I was making the cuts. It was just a really fun experience.”

Just a few months after graduating high school, Groh found herself living full time in New York City, thousands of miles from the comfort of home.

“I’m definitely kind of used to it now, but it’s a totally different lifestyle than Portland,” Groh said. “I think it’s just the busyness of the city, the excitement of the city and making so many new relationships.”

Groh has always enjoyed watching basketball, and singled out the Knicks City Dancers as prime examples to follow in the professional world.

“I think they stand out from any other NBA dance team I’ve ever seen,” Groh said. “Not only are they such amazing dancers, but they’re also well-rounded people, and so diverse.”

Upon graduating high school in the spring, Groh wasn’t sure what her next move would be — until she learned about the Knicks City dance clinic. After attending the clinic early this summer, and loving it, she decided to take a chance at tryouts a few weeks later. Everything fell into place from there.

“For the tryouts, they teach a dance combination and make a cut, and then another (dance combination) and make a cut,” Groh said. “The first day, there’s three cuts. Then, there’s three days of callbacks and they make a cut each night.”

Now that she’s past all of that, Groh has spent the rest of her summer months prepping for prime time, when she’s under the bright, theatrical lights at Madison Square Garden.

“We’ve started rehearsals and it’s been pretty intense,” Groh said. “We’re learning a bunch of choreography now, gearing up for the season. It’s been fun, but challenging.”

Groh is one of four rookies on this year’s team. When the USA basketball team rolled through New York last week for an exhibition game against the Dominican Republic, some of the dancers saw action, but Groh wasn’t one of them.

Her time will come soon enough, and until then, she’s just happy to be part of the team.

Contact Patrick Malee at 503-636-1281 Ext. 106 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..