Pistons’ Mob Squad: Q&A with Coach Oscar Hernandez
Two things are immediately clear when you go backstage with the Detroit Pistons’ Mob Squad youth hip-hop dance team.
One, these kids are professionals. They are here to do a job. Two, they’re also still kids, with loads of energy to burn, jokes to tell, and an infectious sense of camaraderie. The team that practices and performs together as a regularly scheduled Detroit Pistons timeout and halftime act is extremely dedicated and talented, but also manages to have plenty of fun.
We were granted backstage access to watch the Mob Squad warm up before a Feb. 4 appearance at a Grand Rapids Drive game. We talked to coach Oscar Hernandez about the team and what makes the Mob Squad so exceptional. Here are excerpts from our Q&A with the experienced coach, who has worked with the likes of artists Flo-Rida, Salt-N-Pepa, and T-Pain.
What’s the main thing you look for in a Mob Squad dancer?
“What I look for in a Mob Squad dancer is a dancer that is not just a dancer, but a performer. (I look for) someone who has a lot of energy, someone who is actually going to draw in the audience when they are performing, someone who has a bit of an x-factor.”
“This year we did something different. We’re going for more of a younger look. This year I’d say it’s our little ones – you’ll notice we have two short ones out there killing it.”
What do you like best about working with and coaching kids?
“I love working with kids because they’re honest, you know, they’re genuine. I try to be a mentor to these kids – I’m not just a coach, I’m a mentor and hopefully a good role model for these kids as well, because I used to be in their shoes. I was an NBA kid dancer myself and now I’m a director. It’s just an overwhelming great feeling to be working with kids and teaching them.”
How do you try to connect to the audience through the choreography of the Mob Squad performances?
“I make sure that I’m just not connecting with just one style of dance or one type of music. I like rock, I like country, I like hip-hop, I like salsa. I try to incorporate that so it hits all of our audience. It’s not just for the teens out there – it’s for your grandma or your baby cousin, or your uncle. I make sure that I hit all those elements in a routine.”
Are you excited to work with the winners of the #MIKidsCanDance contest that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is sponsoring?
“I’m really excited about it. It’s great to see all of these talented kids out there who actually want to be a part of the Blue Cross Blue Shield contest with the Mob Squad. That’s a great feeling and thank you to Blue Cross Blue Shield – we love you guys!”
Thanks to the Mob Squad dancers and Coach Hernandez for giving us a backstage glimpse into the world of this electrifying team. Want to dance with them at The Palace? Enter the #MIKidsCanDance contest today.
Photo Credit: The Mob Squad