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.
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?
Don't get us wrong: We're totally looking forward to enjoying a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. But one of our favorite parts of the holiday actually happens in the morning. We've got six reasons for you to wake up early on Turkey Day, and they're all part of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The 92nd annual holiday event airs at 9 am Eastern on NBC, and this year, you can catch live performances from five Broadway shows, plus everyone's favorite high-kicking dancers, the Radio City Rockettes.
On a humid summer day in midtown Manhattan, construction goes on outside the Church of St. Paul the Apostle. Inside, another type of building goes on: In separate basement studios, two groups of 40 dancers focus their attention on their instructors. It's the Rockettes' summer intensive, a rare chance for students to work with professional Rockettes, not to mention Julie Branam, their director and choreographer.
Rockette Bailey Callahan demonstrates in front of one group. Hers is a classic Rockette story. She attended their intensive every summer from 2009 to 2011; being a Rockette was her dream. Then, in 2012, she was asked to attend the program's invitational week. At the end, she received her Rockette contract.
Performing around 100 shows of the annual Christmas Spectacular per season, Radio City Rockette Corey Whalen can practically do her stage makeup in her sleep. "I give myself about 20 minutes to do my makeup, and then I keep it on—even if we have a four-show day," she says. With a full look that includes light contouring, liquid eyeliner, false eyelashes and a red lip as precise as the Rockettes' famous kick line, that's no small feat.
After 12 seasons dancing with the Rockettes, Rhonda Kaufman Malkin knows a thing or two about becoming one of Radio City's iconic dancers. Since 2006, Malkin has shared her secrets to success as a dance coach and personal trainer in New York City through her company Fusion Exercise. She's had 36 students book the Rockettes, and numerous others land Broadway shows, national tours, commercials and even Beyoncé's tour.
At the most recent Rockettes callback, over half of the 25 dancers had taken class with Malkin—and seven of them were offered contracts. Here's how to get to Radio City, according to Malkin.
It's a big week in dance. From ballet to Broadway, there's a lot to keep up with, but we've got you covered. Here are the five danciest happenings that you should know about today.
1. "Wherefore art thou Romeo?" Alessandra Ferri reprises her famous Juliet tonight with Herman Cornejo at American Ballet Theatre. At 53, she's still got it.
2. Also this evening, the Rockettes kick off their new summer show, New York Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes. Now through August 7, you can check out Mia Michaels' take on their signature kicklines. Before you go, watch a sneak peek of Michaels' choreography, and read about her vision for the production.
3. While this happening is more song than dance, it'll definitely get you grooving. If you haven't already, you'll want to download this track from Broadway for Orlando. The cover of "What the World Needs Now Is Love," which dropped on iTunes on Monday, features vocals by a smattering of Broadway stars, including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Audra McDonald, Idina Menzel, and many, many more. It's a new take on an old tune for a great cause. All proceeds will benefit the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida.
4. Today is day 9 of Keone and Mari's "Preface"—their series of 15 dance videos rolled out over 15 days. From clips of Mari's solo freestyle to Keone's smooth choreo for the guys, it's like Christmas for dancers! You can watch all the installments on their YouTube channel.
5. Last but not least, today is Bob Fosse's birthday. The jazz legend known for his notoriously technical, always inventive saucy choreography would have turned 89 today. Celebrate with some sensual shimmies, a few jazz hands or a movie marathon of his flicks, like Sweet Charity (seen below), Cabaret and All That Jazz.
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Some of the ideas from last year's Heart and Lights have been reworked for the show. New York City will still be the central theme, and special effects like the three-story Statue of Liberty puppet and the choreographed LED backdrop will remain. But the storyline has changed, with a new script by playwright Joshua Harmon. The dance numbers will celebrate one iconic New York landmark after another, as an old-fashioned tour guide leads his new techie boss through the city in an effort to save his job. “It's a complete reimagining," says Carlyle. “We're using some of the same scenic elements and technology from last year, but as far as I'm concerned, it's a completely new show."
Adding to the list of big names, Mia Michaels has choreographed a scene. “To open the show with a number by Mia Michaels just says, 'All bets are off,' " says Carlyle. “It says, 'Look out, here we go, this is not going to be a traditional Rockettes show.' " Laura Benanti, a Broadway actress and cast member of ABC's “Nashville," will star alongside Derek Hough, and Whoopi Goldberg will narrate, lending her voice to the Statue of Liberty. Noticeably absent is Linda Haberman, who had been director/choreographer of the Rockettes since 2006 but left after Heart and Lights' cancellation.
Beyond Michaels' contemporary dance, audiences can expect a variety of choreography that expands the Rockettes' image, from tap to robust jazz. A couple scenes have been preserved and revised from last year's show, including the Fosse-inspired “Electricity," a dance that was widely promoted leading up to Heart and Lights' scheduled opening. But by and large, this is Carlyle's creation. “I tried to really challenge the dancers," he says. “They put on their knee pads, and their shoulder pads, and their elbow pads—and they went for it."