How Do You Get Hired as a Rockette? We Got the Inside Scoop
The Rockettes are officially looking for some fresh faces. For the first time in almost a decade, the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall is expanding its yearly open call in New York City to add audition locations in Chicago and Atlanta. The creative team wants to widen the pool and reach even more dancers.
So how can you get chosen out of hundreds of hopefuls?
1. Be versatile.
Despite what your relatives might think, the Rockettes are asked to do far more than high kicks. Creative director Karen Keeler says she's looking for athletic dancers with a strong ballet background who can perform jazz and tap.
With that in mind, the audition starts with a basic Rockette combination, then a jazz combination, a tap combination and another more stylized jazz number. "I want to get a sense of how dancers take on movement," says Keeler.
2. Listen to details.
Since the Rockette brand is all about precision, every detail matters. "The biggest mistake I see dancers make at the audition is not really listening to the specifics," says Keeler. Whether an arm is supposed to be shoulder height or you're supposed to face croisé, mimic what's taught exactly as it's shown.
Danelle Morgan, who's been a Rockette for 13 seasons, didn't get hired until she fully grasped that concept in her third audition. "Coming from a concert dance background, I wanted to put my own spin on the choreography," she says. "It took me three auditions to realize that it's about being part of this big picture, not about me. Be in tune with every person around you."
3. Dress confidently.
The traditional style of the Rockettes might have evolved a bit over the years, but you're still probably safest showing up for the audition in a leotard, tan tights and character shoes—with classic red lipstick. Black tights are acceptable, too, if you feel more comfortable in them. "Wear something you feel great in, that shows off your body," says Keeler. But, warns Morgan, "Don't wear bare legs."
4. Build your stamina.
This job is not for the faint of heart. During the Christmas season, dancers are asked to perform in multiple shows a day for weeks on end. "You need to be conditioned as an athlete," says Keeler. Before the audition, work on your endurance so you can keep up your energy in every combination.
5. Bring yourself to the steps.
Sure, precision is the name of the game. But the creative team isn't looking for robots. "Ultimately, we're in a line of 36 women," says Keeler, "but we like to see individual women in that line. I pick up on a dancer's passion—do they have a great personality and spirit when they perform?"
6. Pack a snack.
If you make it past the cuts, you're in for a long day. "Bring a protein bar, stay hydrated," suggests Morgan. "They ask for more details than any other job I've worked on. You need to keep your brain functioning."
Morgan (seated) has been a Rockette for 13 seasons.
7. Stay focused.
When an open call draws up to 500 women, the intimidation factor can be distracting. "At my first audition, I didn't realize there would be a line out the door," says Morgan. "I was thinking, Why would they want me? I was almost discouraging myself." She found the best way to calm her nerves was to focus on the details of the movement, and connect with the choreographers at the front of the room.
8. Don't fake it.
The right personality is more than a plastered-on smile. Let your excitement shine through from a sincere place. "If you love what you're doing, that's going to naturally inform how you dance," says Keeler. "We're performing in the Christmas season, and that celebration is very real."
9. Don't let a rejection discourage you.
It's not uncommon for Rockettes to audition multiple times before getting an offer. Maybe there's no room in the line for someone of your height this year, or maybe you need to strengthen your tap technique. If you want it, don't give up.
Morgan felt the audition team truly remembered her from year to year, and saw her growth. "I felt more confident and capable each time," she says.
10. Just take a chance.
Not every Rockette grew up dreaming of joining the line. The dancers come from a variety of backgrounds—some have MFAs, others still take on modern dance or musical theater projects during the off-season. The only requirement is that you're between 5' 6" and 5' 10 1/2". Keeler is hoping that a wide range of dancers use the audition as an opportunity to get to know the Rockettes better and see if the job could be a fit for them.
Ready to try your luck? Auditions take place in New York City from April 15 through April 24, in Chicago on May 7 and 8, and in Atlanta on May 9 and 10.
When a musical prepares to make the transfer from a smaller, lesser-known venue to Broadway (where theaters hold 500-plus seats), often there's a collective intake of breath from all involved. After all, a bigger house means more tickets to sell in order to stay in the black, and sometimes shows with even the most tenacious fan bases can't quite navigate such a jump. But what about the transfer from stage…to screen? Is Broadway ready to be consumed from the comfort of your couch?
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.
Daphne Lee was dancing with Collage Dance Collective in Memphis, Tennessee, when she received two difficult pieces of news: Her mother had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma cancer, and her father had Parkinson's disease, affecting his mobility and mental faculties.
The New Jersey native's reaction: "I really need to move home."
Summer is almost upon us, and whether you're a student about to go on break or a pro counting the days till layoff, don't forget that with warm weather comes a very serious responsibility: To maintain your cross-training routine on your own.
Those of us who've tried to craft our own cross-training routine know it's easier said than done. So we consulted the stars, and rounded up the best options for every zodiac sign. (TBH, you should probably consult an expert, too—we'd recommend a physical therapist, a personal trainer or your teacher.)
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.
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It's become second nature in dance studios: The instant anyone gets hurt, our immediate reaction is to run to the freezer to grab some ice (or, more realistically, a package of frozen peas).
But as routine as icing our injuries might be, the benefits are not actually backed up by scientific studies. And some experts now believe icing could even disrupt the healing process.
I'm a contemporary dancer, and I'm nervous about trying to get pregnant since I can't predict if it might happen during the middle of the season. We have a union contract that is supposed to protect us. But I'm scared because several of my colleagues' contracts weren't renewed for no particular reason. Having a big belly could be a big reason to get rid of me!
—Andrea, New York, NY
When the going gets tough, the tough start dancing: That's the premise behind "Dance of Urgency," a recently opened exhibit at MuseumsQuartier Vienna that features photos, video and other documentary material relating to the use of dance as political protest or social uprising.
The groups featured in the show, largely based around clubs and electronic dance music scenes, span the globe and respond to a variety of issues—from inequality and social stratification to racial divides to crackdowns on club culture itself.
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:
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.
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.