To me, Thanksgiving means three things: delicious food, quality family time and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Nothing says "It's the holidays!" quite like wrestling a turkey into the oven, while looking over my shoulder to make sure I haven't missed the Radio City Rockettes. (This has yet to end in disaster, knock on wood.)

So each November, I begin scouring the web for hints about the year's dancetastic performers. And I'm super psyched for what 2013 has to offer.

First, there's the pre-parade show, which features an assortment of fun dance numbers to celebrate the year's new Broadway shows. Get excited for excerpts from Motown, Pippin, and Matilda:

The Revolting Children from Matilda the Musical

In case that's not enough, we get a sneak-peek at The Sound of Music, Live!--an NBC telecast, airing December 5 at 8/7c, starring Carrie Underwood:

(courtesy NBC/Everett Collection)

The pre-parade show also features the world-famous Radio City Rockettes, who never fail to kick it up a notch:

The Radio City Rockettes perform at the 86th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (by Taylor Hill/Getty Images North America)

After that, the parade procession begins (led by those ginormous character balloons..Snoopy's coming back this year guys!).

My favorite part of the procession? The various dance teams, who travel from all over the country to show off their spirit and skill in the Big Apple. This year, we'll be entertained by the South Shore Drill Team, Varsity Spirit Cheer, Spirit of America Dance, All That! (a clogging group that appeared on "America's Got Talent") and J.U.M.P. (Jumpers United for Macy's Parade).

Varsity Spirit Cheer brings infectious energy to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Added bonus: Cirque du Soleil is teaming up with Macy's this year to debut Dreamseeker, one of the parade's largest floats (which is sure to feature some of our favorite bendy acrobats).

The 87th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade airs Thursday, November 28 from 9am to noon on NBC.

Get excited! (And don't forget about that turkey in the oven...)

There are zillions of makeup goodies out there, and just as many ways to wear them. Rather than spending the rest of your life trying to find that perfect black eyeliner pen, take a cue from these pros, who have streamlined their prep routines to get the job done night after night.

The Pros

Megan Levinson, Radio City Rockette

Lloyd Knight, Martha Graham Dance Company principal

Jenny Driebe, Cirque du Soleil's Michael Jackson ONE dancer

Madison Keesler, English National Ballet first artist

 

 

Megan prepping her Rockettes look (photo by Rana Faure/MSG Photos, courtesy MSG Entertainment)

Megan Levinson's Routine

“I start by blending liquid foundation on my entire face, and then use concealer under my eyes. Next I apply eye shadow primer on my eyelids and let it dry as I fill in my eyebrows. I mix eye shadows, and always make sure to define the crease of my lid with a dark brown. Then I put on mascara and false lashes. Once my eyes are done, I set my face with powder foundation and apply blush. Finally, and most importantly, I finish off my makeup with the famous Radio City Rockette red lip!”

Megan’s Pro Tip

“The Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes is 90 minutes of non-stop action with athletic choreography and quick changes, so we need our makeup to stay in place,” she says. “I always apply Sealed With a Kiss lip seal by Cosmetically Sealed over my lipstick to keep it looking perfect during the whole show. Also, eye shadow primer is life-changing!”

A Few of Megan’s Go-To Products

•Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion and Eyeshadow Palette in Naked

•MAC Russian Red lipstick

(“It’s the iconic Rockette color!”) and blush in Mocha

•Ardell false eyelashes

 

Lloyd Knight's Routine

“I begin by moisturizing my face and applying foundation. Then

I move on to eye makeup: first shadow, then liner and then mascara.

Lloyd Knight with his makeup spread (photo by Brigid Pierce, courtesy MGDC)

Depending on what I’m dancing, I like to change up the colors or the boldness of the lines. After my eyes are done, I contour my cheekbones and jawline, apply lipstick to seal the deal and hit the stage!”

Lloyd's Pro Tip

“It’s always best to go out into the house to see how much makeup you think you might need,” he advises. “Determine how far away the audience will be sitting, and try to see what someone else’s stage makeup looks like from the house. You don’t want to overdo it, or wear too little.”

A Few of Lloyd's Go-To Products

•Make Up For Ever foundation in 180=R530 Brown (“It matches my skin color perfectly!”) and black Graphic Liner Pen (“It makes for a really clean and sharp look.”)

•Sephora eye shadow in Colorful Sandcastle and Colorful Diamonds Are Forever, and Waterproof Contour Eye Pencils in White, Cocoa and Black

 

Jenny Driebe's Routine

“Each dancer in Michael Jackson ONE has a specific look created by the amazing makeup artists at Cirque du Soleil. I always begin with a primer base and then apply silver cream

Jenny Driebe in her finished look (courtesy Jenny Driebe)

by Make Up For Ever to my lids, brow arch and inner eye. I draw a pink line from the inner corner of my eyebrow down my nose, blend it out over my eye, and blend blue into the outer corner to create a smoky look. Then I apply foundation; contour and blend; set it with translucent powder; brush the excess powder away; and repeat everything with powder eye shadow, contour and blush. I line my eyelids and fill in my brows. Finally, I add glue and silver glitter to my eyelid, and the unique rhinestone appliqué

I wear goes on my cheek.”

Jenny's Pro Tip

“This was taught to me by one of the awesome makeup artists from Cirque du Soleil: For a 3-D lip look, apply lip liner and lipstick as usual, using a brush to blend them together. With a thinner brush, apply a line of cream highlight around your lips. Use powder to set it, and voilà! Beautiful 3-D lips that really pop!”

A Few of Jenny's Go-To Products

•Make Up For Ever Star Powder (“It highlights with shimmer.”)

•MAC Bone Beige Sculpting Powder (“to enhance bone structure”) and False Lashes mascara

 

Madison Keesler's Routine

“I always start with face primer and then do my brows. I follow with foundation, concealer and contouring. Then I powder my face with setting powder and ‘bake’ my T-zone. Baking is when you leave excess powder on your face for a few extra minutes before gently

Madison Keesler in full stage makeup (courtesy Madison Keesler)

brushing away the excess—this step is key! Then I prime my eyelids, use different eye shadow colors to define the crease, and use liquid liner on the top and bottom lids. I finish with mascara and lipstick, and any extra blush, highlighting or contouring.”

Madison's Pro Tip

“Choosing a lipstick color is very important because it can really change the overall look of your makeup. Also, to get the best brows, do them first! I do brows right after primer because it helps the brow product stick.”

A Few of Madison's Go-To Products

•Tarte Clean Slate primer in Poreless

•Cover FX contour kit in P Light Medium

•Laura Mercier Loose Setting Powder in Translucent

We're big Cirque du Soleil fans here at DS for many reasons—stunning costumes? Check. Insane acrobatics? Check! Jaw-dropping, breath-taking moments? Check and check. But one thing that both Cirque performers and dancers often have to tackle is performing with a prop (and making it look effortless, at that!). This new video takes us behind the scenes of , with an in-depth look at the prop weapons the cast members must carry around onstage.

in action (photo by Eric Jamison)

The craftsmanship of these pieces is stunning, and the thought of having to maneuver around stage with them is slightly terrifying. Anything can go wrong, but rarely does (and if you find yourself having an onstage performance mishap, we've got you covered). There's something so captivating about the beauty of martial arts combined with dance and acrobatics, and KÀ embodies all of it. Check out the video below.

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Thanksgiving is a bad day to be a turkey, but a GREAT day to be a Broadway baby: The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will feature numbers from no fewer than eight musicals this year. And that's something for which we're truly thankful.

We'll see the cast of On Your Feet! kick off the whole shebang, salsa-style. The School of Rock kids will shred on a guitar-shaped float. Fiddler on the Roof's cast will show off Hofesh Shechter's traditional-with-a-twist choreography. We'll get sneak peeks at NBC's The Wiz Live (airing December 3) and Cirque du Soleil's first-ever Broadway show, Paramour (opening this spring). Longer-running Broadway productions—Finding Neverland, The King and I and Something Rotten!—will get moments in the spotlight, too.

On Your Feet! is sure to bring the heat. (photo by Matthew Murphy)

Let's take a moment to be thankful for the very real, very amazing exposure the parade gives these shows: About 23 million people are expected to tune in. (Contrast that with the 6.7 million who caught the Tony Awards back in June.) So odds are good that many folks who thought they were just in it for Jordin Sparks and Santa will be totally in love with musical theater by the end of the broadcast.

(Also: Temps in NYC are supposed to reach the 60s tomorrow—which means you can watch guilt-free, knowing that the frequently half-naked Bway performers aren't smiling through gritted, chattering teeth.)

Catch the parade on NBC from 9 am to noon tomorrow!

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That's right folks—everyone's favorite circus extravaganza is coming to the Great White Way.

The New York Times reports that Cirque du Soleil is planning on producing a show at the Lyric Theater, which is currently home to On the Town, called Paramour. It will combine musical theater and acrobatics, and is set to open in the spring of 2016.

Cirque du Soleil rehearsing at Radio City Music Hall in 2011 (photo by Sara Krulwich/The New York Times)

Paramour will feature actors and acrobats, but it won't be a full-blown musical. All the better to cater to Cirque's strengths rather than trying to fit a Broadway mold. Apparently it will be very story-driven but will still feature the mind-bending theater magic and feats of strength that we've come to expect from the company. It's yet to be revealed whether the show will feature any traditional dancing, but Cirque is such a great gig for dancers, you can bet there will be familiar faces in the cast—even if they're soaring over the house instead of busting a move onstage.

What's cooler than a chance to talk to dance pros, pick their brains about how they got where they are and get an insider's look at where they work and train? Nothing.

Chapman University in Orange, CA, hosts a yearly Cirque du Soleil Entertainment and Technology Symposium, which allows students to get a special look at what it takes to make the Cirque system operate. The symposium also includes mock auditions and lectures with Cirque directors. This year, the symposium runs from April 16–19.

Chapman University senior Katie Gossen says that the symposium is a really unique experience. And she's especially excited to be heading to the Cirque headquarters in Las Vegas this year. "We will be taking master classes with Cirque employees as well as seeing Michael Jackson ONE and The Beatles Love with a behind the scenes tour for both shows. It's going to be an amazing weekend!"

Dancers in Michael Jackson ONE (photo via Cirque du Soleil)

Cirque was drawn to Chapman thanks to the University's dedication to theater technology, and the symposium hosts classes for theater tech folks as well as performers. Classes range from audio engineering to casting, from costuming and makeup to rigging and stage management.

When you're considering college, these kinds of relationships could help you get a job down the line. And even if your school doesn't have a huge partnership like Chapman's with Cirque, masterclasses and workshops are often a great way to get a foot in the door!

 

The cast of Mystère (by Matt Beard)

Cirque du Soleil isn’t your grandmother’s circus. It’s sleek, sophisticated and sometimes a little scary. Every scene is a production in itself, complete with radiant costumes, intricate choreography and, our favorite part, technically extraordinary dancers. Since the early 1980s, Cirque du Soleil has grown from a tiny crew of street performers in Canada to a huge organization that now puts on 20 shows across the globe—each with its own plot and zany cast. This year marks milestone anniversaries for several Cirque du Soleil productions, so DS asked four dancers—from four different Cirque du Soleil shows—to share 10 secrets only an insider would know.

1| “The audience response is stronger than in the traditional dance world. The crowd reacts to everything with excitement, amazement and disbelief. It was shocking at first—it took a while to get used to spontaneous outbursts within the theater.” —Natalya Bashkatova, La Nouba

La Nouba at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL, is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year!

2| “The costumes are legendary and so detailed. The cast is measured from head to toe to the millimeter, and no two artists have the same outfit. They even laser scanned my head to get my wig size!” —Jarrett Kelly, The Beatles LOVE

The Cirque du Soleil show with the most recognizable soundtrack, The Beatles LOVE, has been performed to Beatles classics at The Mirage in Las Vegas since 2006.

3| Mystère’s stage is almost a full circle, so I have to be aware that I’m always being watched at many angles.” —Israel Lazo Gutierrez, Mystère 

*It’s a big year for Mystère: 2013 marks the show’s 20th year at Treasure Island in Las Vegas.

4| “Unlike the ballet world I’m from, diversity and uniqueness are praised in Cirque du Soleil. Having an unusual body type or uncommon proportions is actually a huge plus. The dancers here never have to try to blend in.” —Agnès Roux, Zumanity

*Zumanity: The Sensual Side of Cirque du Soleil, at New York–New York Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas turns 10 years old this year.

5| “Our schedule is unlike any other. We work five days a week, two performances per night, and we often have to come in early for training, rehearsals or meetings.” —JK

6| “Doing 478 shows a year is hard on a dancer’s body. We have to be prepared physically and mentally, and we challenge ourselves to make every show passionate.” —NB

7| “We have great physical therapists, massage therapists and Pilates teachers. And they’re all on site!” —AR

8| “I always wondered what gymnasts do after they compete in the Olympics. Now I know—they join Cirque! Our cast has so many world-champion athletes.” —JK

9| “Each performer came to work for the company in a different way. I auditioned in Paris, but some friends have been spotted at competitions, on TV programs or during performances with other companies.” —AR

10| “The cast members have incredibly diverse backgrounds. You’d be surprised at how many disciplines each performer has studied—beyond what you see onstage.” —IG

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