Land of the Sweets
Three Rockettes share their favorite dancer-friendly holiday treats.
Angela Cranford/MSG Photos, courtesy MSG.
With holiday performances in full force, December can be a thrilling yet exhausting month for dancers. The Rockettes in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular may be the busiest of all: They perform up to four 90-minute shows a day during a run that starts before Thanksgiving and doesn’t end until after New Year’s. How do they fuel all those high kicks? Three shared their favorite recipes for holiday treats that give them energy—and satisfy their sweet tooth. —Jennifer Stahl
Sarah Staker Rockette since 2010
“I’ve always brought this to the dressing room the day after Thanksgiving—we can use the sugar and carb boost. Plus, it makes me feel like I have a piece of home with me no matter where I’m celebrating the holidays.”
My Great-Grandma’s Pumpkin Cake
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups flour (not sifted)
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups canned pumpkin
1 tsp. vanilla
8 oz. cream cheese
1 stick of butter
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
2. In a large bowl, combine the eggs and sugar; beat well.
3. Add oil, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, pumpkin and vanilla; beat well.
4. Pour in a 13x9-inch pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Test with a toothpick.
5. For the icing, beat softened cream cheese and butter, add sugar and blend until smooth. Mix in vanilla.
6. Let cake cool completely before spreading icing. Chill until serving.
Katelyn Gaffney Rockette since 2010
Angela Cranford/MSG Photos, courtesy MSG
“I’m usually craving something sweet after a show. But I know how important it is to get some protein right away, so I eat one of these. The oats are a great source of carbohydrates and the bananas provide potassium. I once brought a huge batch into athletic training after a show—all of them were devoured within the first few minutes of our ice bath.”
Banana Oatmeal Cookies
4 ripe bananas
1 cup oats
4 scoops protein powder
1 tbsp. peanut butter or PB2 powder (optional)
Cacao nibs or chocolate chips (to taste)
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
2. In a large bowl, mash the bananas. Mix in the oats, protein powder and peanut butter. The mixture should become doughlike. Then, add in your cacao nibs or chocolate chips.
3. Grease a large cookie sheet. Make 1-inch balls of dough and place them on the sheet a few inches apart.
4. Bake for 20 minutes.
5. Let the cookies cool for about 10 minutes.
Christine Sienicki Rockette since 2000
“When I was younger, my aunt would make peanut butter cups for every holiday party. I’ve taken over the tradition and added my own healthy twist using raw ingredients and sugar substitutions (dates and agave). I have them as a treat between performances and bring them to parties. No one knows they’re healthy!”
Peanut Butter Fudge Cups
1/4 cup pecans (or any nut of your choice)
1/4 cup walnuts (or any nut of your choice)
2 tbsp. raw cacao powder
8 medjool dates
Sea salt (to taste)
Peanut butter layer:
20 medjool dates
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tbsp. almond milk
Raw chocolate topping (eyeball amounts based on how much you need to make it level with the top of the muffin pan):
1 part agave
2 parts raw cacao powder
1 part melted coconut oil
1. Combine the nuts, cacao powder and a pinch of sea salt in a food processer and mix until fine.
2. Add 8 medjool dates and process until fully mixed.
3. Form mixture into balls and spread into the bottom of a 6-cup muffin pan.
4. Freeze for approximately 30 minutes.
5. For the peanut butter layer, combine 20 dates, peanut butter and almond milk in the food processer and mix until smooth.
6. Spread the mixture on top of the frozen nut-fudge base and freeze.
7. For the raw chocolate topping, mix the agave, cacao powder and coconut oil until smooth.
8. Pour the mixture on top of the peanut butter layer and top with sea salt.
9. Put muffin tin in freezer until peanut butter cup is fully frozen.
Last night, longtime theater legends (including Chita Rivera herself!) as well as rising stars gathered to celebrate one of Broadway's danciest events: the third annual Chita Rivera Awards.
The evening paid tribute to this season's dancer standouts, fabulous ensembles, and jaw-dropping choreography—on- and off-Broadway and on film.
As usual, several of our faves made it into the mix. (With such a fabulous talent pool of nominees to choose from, we're glad that ties were allowed.) Here are the highlights from the winner's list:
The way we create and consume dance is changing every day. Now more than ever, the field demands that dancers not only be able to perform at the highest level, but also collaborate with choreographers to bring their artistic visions to life. Dancers who miss out on choreographic training may very well find themselves at a disadvantage as they try to launch their careers.
When you're a foreign dancer, gaining legal rights to work in the U.S. is a challenging process. It's especially difficult if you're petitioning to work as a freelance dancer without an agent or company sponsorship.
The process requires professional muscle along with plenty of resources and heart. "There's a real misnomer that it's super easy," says Neena Dutta, immigration attorney and president of Dutta Law Firm. "People need to educate themselves and talk to a professional."
Here are four things every foreign dancer who wants to work in the U.S. needs to know to build a freelance dance career here.
What does it take to "make it" in dance? It's no secret that turning this passion into a profession can be a struggle. In such a competitive field, talent alone isn't enough to get you where you want to be.
So what kinds of steps can you take to become successful? Dance Magazine spoke to 33 people from all corners of the industry to get their advice on the lessons that could help us all, no matter where we are in our careers.
It's not often that a promising choreographer gets to stage work in a world-class theater, on a skillfully-curated program with professional dancers, and with the possibility of winning a substantial cash prize. But at the McCallum Theatre's Palm Desert Choreography Festival, that's been the status quo for over twenty years.
Since Shea New, the festival's artistic director, founded the festival in 1998, she's worked tirelessly with McCallum's director of education and festival producer, Kajsa Thuresson-Frary, and stage manager and festival production manager Joanna Fookes to build a festival that nurtures choreographers, highlights high quality work, powerfully engages the local community and cultivates an audience base for dance in the Coachella Valley. The trio is backed by a strong team of professionals at McCallum and the brilliant volunteers from the local and national level who serve as adjudicators.
Get Dance Magazine in your inbox
On May 18, 1919, Margot "Peggy" Hookham was born. She would grow up to become Dame Margot Fonteyn, England's first homegrown prima ballerina. She joined the Sadler's Wells School in 1934 and was performing principal roles with the precursor to The Royal Ballet the next year. Fonteyn was a company-defining figure, dancing Aurora for the re-opening of the Royal Opera House after World War II, creating numerous roles with Sir Frederick Ashton and forging a legendary partnership with Rudolf Nureyev.
Memorial Day is notoriously one of Chicago's bloodiest weekends. Last year, 36 people were shot and seven died that weekend. In 2017 and 2016, the number of shootings was even higher.
When Garley "GiGi Tonyé" Briggs, a dance teacher and Chicago native, started noticing this pattern, she was preparing her second annual Memorial Day workshop for local youth.
The event's original aim was simple: "I wanted the youth of Chicago to have somewhere they could come and learn from different dancers and be off the streets on the South Side on this hot holiday," she says.
A recent trip I took to Nashville coincided with the NFL draft. As we drove into town, my Uber driver was a fount of information on the subject.
I learned that there are 32 NFL teams and that the draft takes place over seven rounds. That the team that did the poorest during the previous season gets first pick. That during an earlier event called the scouting combine, the teams assess college football players and figure out who they want.
There is also the veteran combine for "free agents"—players who have been released from their contracts or whose contracts have expired. They might be very good players, but their team needs younger members or ones with a certain skill set. All year round, experienced NFL scouts scan games across the country, checking out players and feeding that information back to the teams. Players' agents keep their eyes on opportunities for their clients which might be more rewarding.
While I sat in the traffic of 600,000 NFL fans I got thinking, is there something ballet could learn from football? Could a draft system improve young dancers' prospects and overall company caliber and contentment?
Despite what you might think, there's no reason for dancers to be afraid of bread.
"It's looked at as this evil food," says New York State–certified dietitian and former dancer Tiffany Mendell. But the truth is, unless you have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, bread can be a healthy source of carbohydrates—our body's preferred fuel—plus fiber and vitamins.
The key is choosing your loaf wisely.
It can be hard to imagine life without—or just after—dance. Perhaps that's why we find it so fascinating to hear what our favorite dancers think they'd be doing if they weren't performing for a living.
We've been asking stars about the alternate career they'd like to try in our "Spotlight" Q&A series, and their answers—from the unexpected to the predictable—do not disappoint:
"New York City Ballet star appears in a Keanu Reeves action movie" is not a sentence we ever thought we'd write. But moviegoers seeing John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum will be treated to two scenes featuring soloist Unity Phelan dancing choreography by colleague Tiler Peck. The guns-blazing popcorn flick cast Phelan as a ballerina who also happens to be training to become an elite assassin. Opens in theaters May 17.
The Brooklyn-based choreographer Gillian Walsh is both obsessed with and deeply conflicted about dance. With her latest work, Fame Notions, May 17–19 at Performance Space New York, she seeks to understand what she calls the "fundamentally pessimistic or alienating pursuit" of being a dancer. Noting that the piece is "quiet and introverted," like much of her other work, she sees Fame Notions as one step in a larger project examining why dancers dance.
What does Mikhail Baryshnikov have to say to dancers starting their careers today? On Friday, he gave the keynote speech during the graduation ceremony for the inaugural class of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance.
The heart of his message: Be generous.