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University of Missouri

Dancing for the Stars

After dancing for the New York Knicks, Amy Trader is back in school.

Amy Trader

Amy Trader spent the 2013–14 season as a Knicks City Dancer, the on-court dance troupe for the NBA’s New York Knicks. Photo by Jason McDonald.

In rapid-fire choreography, she stepped and slid atop the hard court of The World’s Most Famous Arena, swinging her hair, hips and arms to the blaring beats and boisterous cheers of nearly 20,000 fans.

And if Spike Lee, Adam Sandler or any of the 20,000 people in attendance happened to need a lumbar disc replacement, she could have helped with that, too.

Amy Trader, BS BE ’13, took an unusual break between her undergraduate and graduate programs when she spent the 2013–14 season as a Knicks City Dancer for the NBA’s New York Knicks.

Now back in Columbia, the four-year Golden Girl has returned to the team as a choreographer and coach and is in Columbia College’s master of business administration program, a decision inspired by her undergraduate experience designing a silicone disc implant with a team of students. They are awaiting patent approval.

Trader grew up in CoMo and has been dancing since age 3. As a child she dreamed of being a Golden Girl. Her dad and several uncles are engineers, so she also dreamed of being an engineer.

In college, she got to do both. The implant she helped develop offers a minimally invasive alternative to traditional disc replacement and results in a greater range of motion than fusing discs. The technology injects a silicone bag into the spine using a needle and then fills the bag with a special gel. The body doesn’t reject the silicone, and the gel mimics the properties of the original disc.

But she couldn’t quit dancing after graduation. “I had always wanted to pursue dance a little further before I settled down and got a job in biomedical engineering,” she says.

So she moved to New York in June 2013, one of 600 women vying for seven open spots on the Knicks’ 20-member squad.

Winning the job was a chance “to live out my dreams,” she says.