Two years ago, Mari Mino wanted to try out for the Golden State Warriors Gold Squad dance team.
She prepared from Japan by improving her dance and English-speaking skills and training. Now, the first-year team dancer is living out her dream of dancing for the defending NBA champions.
“I’m really thankful and grateful to dance on the court with amazing teammates and amazing coaches,” Miyano told the Nichi Bei News prior to the Warriors game at Chase Center against the Minnesota Timberwolves March 26.
Miyano appreciates the opportunity to dance for the Warriors and is living in the moment, not thinking about what the future holds.
The team performs during the starting lineup introductions, timeouts and quarter breaks.
Last August, Miyano said to make the team, auditioners had to take prep classes, in which they learned choreography. Next, they auditioned for the first time and learned hip-hop and jazz routines, the Tokyo native said said. Then the dancers practiced the routines and did an online interview. The final audition was Aug. 23, Miyano said. Throughout the process, Miyano was “a little bit nervous,” but she wanted to show her “dance” and “passion” for the team.
Having watched Warriors games on TV in Japan, Miyano was a big Warriors and Warriors dance team fan even before she joined the dance team. She loved basketball, baseball and figure skating growing up, among other sports.
Prior to joining the Warriors dance team this season, Miyano helped Tamagawa University win the 2016 and 2017 National Dance Alliance Collegiate National Championships in back to back years.
They are some of her biggest career accomplishments. She graduated with a bachelor’s of science in psychology from the university.
The dancer moved to the Bay Area from Japan this past summer. Miyano weight trains, dances and stretches for her training regimen. On her days off, she said she relaxes by going hiking or going to Napa, Calif.
The Bay Area weather is better than the weather in Tokyo, she said with a chuckle. She added that living in the Bay Area, and the United States as a whole, has been a challenge. Luckily for her, she had teammates and coaches, who are “so supportive.”
In addition to supportive coaches and teammates, Miyano is currently staying with a homestay family. She said she eats Japanese food with them, adding one of the family members who cooks the Japanese food is the “best chef to me.”
Miyano said when she speaks Japanese at her homestay family’s house, she feels like she’s at “home” in Japan.
Nichi Bei News staff writer Derek Tahara is a Yonsei or fourth-generation Japanese American born and raised in Sunnyvale, Calif. He earned his B.S. in Journalism at the University of Oregon. He is a lifelong fan of the Golden State Warriors and San Francisco Giants.