Madonna may have four minutes to save the world—but the young dancers who auditioned Thursday to perform at her Material Girl launch party at Macy’s on September 22 had just one minute to strut their stuff before a panel of judges. They jumped, they slid, they spun on their heads. But most of all, they looked the part.


“I just moved from L.A. a week ago to study dance,” said Amberlyn Wemmer, 22, who was dressed up in a “Like A Virgin” look, including mesh gloves from Forever 21 and a strapless BeBe dress. “I’ve loved Madonna my whole life. My parents played her music since I was little.”


It turned out that Forever 21 was the go-to resource for these girls, several of whom are students at Broadway Dance Center, where the auditions took place. When she knew she’d be trying out for the gig, 20-year-old Yessi Ruiz grabbed her sequined, striped Forever 21 tank. “I know [Madonna] loves sparkles,” Ruiz said.


Nicole Medoro looked a cross between Madge’s daughter Lourdes and jailbait. She rocked hot pink HotPants, a sequined hoodie, gold hoop earrings, a well lacquered pout and boots loaned by her friend. Her tights were a steal at only one dollar—from Forever 21. “I had a lot of this stuff because I was in a music video for my friend who’s trying to be a singer,” Medoro said. She had the moves to back it up, but it’s unclear which element provoked the “Damn, girl” coming from judges Adam Moon, Macy’s fashion director; Material Girl chief marketing officer Dari Marder, and one of Madonna’s lead tour dancers, Leroy “Hypnosis” Barnes.


Fresh-faced Emily Cook, a Lafayette, La., transplant, accessorized a basic leotard and tights with a gray skirt and pink and black plaid scarf, both from H&M. “I watched some Madonna videos on YouTube,” the 23-year-old said about her research. “But I also watched an interview where she talked about the line and she mentioned mixing solids with plaids and stripes,” she added, gesturing to her ensemble.


Some contenders, however, relied on a look that had served them well in the past. “This is my good luck outfit,” said Sibongile Mlambo, a 24-year-old from Zimbabwe decked out in hot pink Juicy Couture pants and a houndstooth fedora.


Madonna, who attended the University of Michigan on a dance scholarship, will pick the ten final winners from the 20 selected on Thursday. And from the way Barnes tells it, it’s good to be one of Madonna’s dancers.


“In the entertainment community dancers are on the bottom of the totem pole, but not with Madonna. She really respects dance. She comes from our history and background,” said Barnes, who grew up in Compton with no formal dance training. “When we’re on tour, she’s always trying to educate her dancers. She’s very motherly.”

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