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Women In Sports: Q&A with New York Knicks City Dancer, Jess Attardo

As we continue our Women In Sports Interview Series in celebration of Women’s History Month, today, we introduce you to, Jess Attardo. The South Brunswick, New Jersey native is in her fifth year with the New York Knicks City Dancers and currently serves as a co-captain. Jess was a member of the dance team at Rutgers University where she graduated with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies. Not only has Jess performed with the squad during Knicks home games, she has also represented the NBA at events across the world.


Jess Attardo (Photo provided by New York Knicks City Dancers)

Jess Attardo (Photo provided by New York Knicks City Dancers)


Double G Sports: Combining sports and dancing, which came first for you in your life?

Jess Attardo: Dancing came first for me. I started dancing when I was three and have been passionate about it ever since.

DGS: And, when did you realize you wanted to dance for a professional sports team? How did the opportunity come about?

JA: I realized that I wanted to dance for a professional sports team while I was in college. I was a member of the Rutgers University Dance Team and I had the privilege of being able to follow the girls who graduated before me and watch them audition for professional dance teams.

In June after I graduated college I had the opportunity to audition for the Knicks City Dancers. They are the most iconic dance team so I really wanted the chance to be a part of that! And I was beyond excited when I found out that I was chosen to be a new member of the team!

DGS: Who do you look to for inspiration throughout your dance career?

JA: I have always looked to family for inspiration throughout my dance career. My parents never pushed me to do anything I didn’t want to do in regards to dance; they were the perfect support system. I have two younger sisters who I grew up dancing with and we have always helped each other to be the best that we could be.

DGS: How do you feel dancers or cheerleaders of professional sports teams are treated overall? Any specific aspect that can improve?

JA: I have had a great experience as a Knicks City Dancer; we are always treated very well by everyone that we work with!

DGS: What is your feeling on the role cheerleaders or a dance team have in sports, at any level?

JA: I think that the role of professional dancers has come a long way in the sports industry. Our goal is to produce show-stopping productions during breaks in the games and I feel that the Knicks City Dancers truly do an exceptional job of that.

DGS: Fitness, being in shape, and body image are a big part of dance. What do you typically do to keep yourself at the necessary fitness level?

JA: I actually love working out and am always trying new things to challenge myself! I like to do a lot of circuit training and boot camps to always keep my stamina up. I try to have all the tools necessary in order to execute the dances flawlessly!

DGS: What do you think the biggest misconception about cheerleaders and dancers is?

JA: I think the biggest misconception about dancers is that what we do is easy! To fans, they only see the finished product. What they don’t see is all of the hard work, time, and attention to detail that we dedicate to each and every piece in order to deliver a flawless product!

Jess Attardo (Photo courtesy of Knicks City Dancers)

Jess Attardo (Photo courtesy of Knicks City Dancers)

DGS: How special was it for you when you became one of the co-captains of the Knicks City Dancers?

JA: It was very special when I was chosen as one of the co-captains of the Knicks City Dancers. I have watched so many inspirational women lead this team and each one has had an impact on me. To know that I am now in the position to be an inspiration to my teammates, is such an honor!

DGS: Can you take us through your typical routine on game day?

JA: A game day for a KCD usually starts around 2:00pm. We attend court rehearsal where we stage and set the production dances we’ll be performing that night. Rehearsal typically last between one and three hours and immediately following rehearsal we have sound check. This time is used to run pieces full out with lights, projections and music!

We have over 100 moving lights in our arena! Customized lighting and on court projections are made unique to each and every one of the Knicks City Dancers’ productions.

Following sound check we head to our dressing room to get ready for the game! About an hour before tip-off we have a brief rehearsal in the back of house to review formations.

We then get dressed in our one of kind LED costumes for our custom player introduction sizzle! We are the only team in the league to use LED costumes, moving lights, and on court projections all coordinated to an original music score!

After intros, we prepare for our performance. We can perform up to three times per night, depending on the programming.  Throughout the game we participate in on court contests, in game promotions, and fan engagement activities.

DGS: You graduated from Rutgers with a degree in journalism and media studies. Is that still a direction you want to go or are you more focused on dance and film now? (Maybe you can join our writing team here at!)

JA: For now I am definitely focused on performing and am constantly auditioning for other dance opportunities that fit within the KCD schedule. When I’m finished dancing I would love to work in sports media for a chance to combine my passions!

DGS: What is the most rewarding part of being a Knicks City Dancer?

JA: One of the most rewarding parts of being a Knicks City Dancer has been getting to share this experience with so many different performers. I am currently in my fifth season on the team and I feel so fortunate to have met so many women who have inspired me to be a better dancer and also a better person!

The life lessons I have learned while performing with the Knicks City Dancers will stick with me forever.

Lastly, I love working with our non-profit organization, The Garden of Dreams Foundation, which help children overcoming obstacles. Participating in the Foundation’s events and being able to give back to our community, is so rewarding to me!

DGS: Is there any advice you can give to any young girls that might look up to you and might be interested in a career in dance?

JA: My advice to young dancers would be to take advantage of every opportunity you can. Never limit yourself as a dancer and train in as many styles as possible. It’s difficult to decide what type of professional dancer you want to be so if you study a range of different styles in your youth, you will set yourself up for success as a versatile dancer in the future.

Never give up on yourself or on your dreams!

DGS: Warm up playlist. What music gets you ready for a game?

JA: I listen to all types of music but on game days I like to listen to anything upbeat! I listen to pop, rap, R&B, and anything that will put me in the mood to dance!

DGS: Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks?

JA: Starbucks

DGS: Favorite NBA player?

JA: Carmelo Anthony. He has been an exciting and talented player to watch. He’s also a seasoned veteran, just like me!

DGS: If you could have dinner with any three people (dead or alive), who would you choose and why?

JA: I would like to have dinner with Martha Graham so that she could offer me advice as a dancer. I would also love to have dinner with Erin Andrews so I can learn about working in sports which is something that I eventually would like to do! Lastly, I would say Oprah as I think she would provide excellent life advice!

DGS: March is Women’s History Month. What type of legacy do you hope to leave, not only through your career but as a woman?

JA: As a woman I hope that I leave a mark on people. I hope that they remember me for being uplifting to others and for consistently working hard. I want to be remembered for doing every job that I was given to the best of my ability while inspiring other women to do the same!


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For all of our 2016 Women In Sports Interview Series features, click here.

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