The Rockettes are Looking for an Artistic Director—and a Makeover
The Rockettes are getting ready for a growth spurt, and that starts with a newly-created job: artistic director.
While the iconic precision dance troupe has of course always had artistic leaders for each of its shows, its parent organization, Madison Square Garden Company, is now looking to hire someone to oversee the artistic vision of all of the Rockettes' year-round programming. That includes workshops, outreach activities and, intriguingly, new productions.
In a press release, president of creative content and productions Jennifer Vogt said, "It's time to grow the Rockettes brand beyond its beloved annual attraction, the Christmas Spectacular, by expanding the creative direction of this amazingly talented company."
The Rockettes began in St. Louis in 1925 as the "Missouri Rockets," and moved to New York's Radio City Music Hall for the theater's opening in 1932. Today, their extraordinarily popular Christmas Spectacular plays up to five shows a day from November to January. But over the years, the company has also experimented with other productions, trying to replicate that holiday success.
Today's announcement about the search for an artistic director indicates that the brand is looking to evolve beyond the traditional kickline, and become a year-round presence in the dance world:
"The artistic director will be responsible for developing an all-female identifying dance company that moves beyond one production and one style of dance. This individual will work with the productions team to develop and spearhead future shows that attract new creative teams, incorporate new styles of dance and serve as a complement to the long-running Christmas Spectacular."
The use of the term "female identifying" seems to imply that the company might be opening up to a more 21st-century concept of gender when hiring dancers. Particularly since the job description on the application page underscores the primacy of making the troupe more diverse and inclusive.
To be sure, MSG also says they're looking for a director who will preserve the company's historic legacy, so those classic unison high kicks won't be disappearing anytime soon. But we might be seeing a whole new side of the Rockettes in the next few years.
Yvonne Rainer's Parts of Some Sextets (AKA "the mattress dance") hasn't been revived since it premiered in 1965. Nor has Rainer had any wish to do it again, to ask performers to heave 10 mattresses around while carrying out 31 tasks that changed every 30 seconds. It was an unwieldy, difficult dance. (Even the title is unwieldy.) But Emily Coates, who has danced in Rainer's work for 20 years, became curious about this piece and was determined to see it again—and to dance in it. She will get her wish November 15–17, when the mattress dance will be performed as part of the Performa 19 Biennial.
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.