Think the Rockettes are the only stars of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular? Think again. Each year, a few lucky girls share the role of Clara, who appears during the Nutcracker portion of the show. Clara gets to do some real dancing, too, including solos and pas de deux. (Past Claras include Juliet Doherty and Tiler Peck!)
Dance Spirit sat down with this year's three Claras—Emerson Alexander, JoseBella Morton, and Rachel Quiner, all 12 years old—to find out what it takes to play Clara in the Spectacular, and the best parts of sharing the stage with the world's most iconic precision dance company.
For some it's a holiday tradition, for others its an iconic spectacle, but no matter the reason, more than 1 million people will watch the Rockettes perform in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular each year. And though the production has been around since 1933, much of what goes on behind those velvety curtains and intricate sets remains a mystery. To curb our curiosity and find out what ensues when these leggy ladies aren't doling out their sky-high kicks, we got a backstage tour from the legends themselves.
From hair and makeup, to warm-up exercises, and costume quick changes (the fastest quick change in the show is a #mindblowing 75 seconds, by the way) we got a glimpse into the glamorous (and sometimes not so glamorous) world of the Rockettes.
Look, guys, we know: It is too darn early for holly-jolliness. But the Rockettes appeared on the "Today" show this morning to promote the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, and we can't help it—as soon as we see that iconic kickline, we start daydreaming about sleigh bells and mistletoe and gingerbread lattes.
K-pop boy band, Seventeen just released a jaw-dropping music video that we can't get enough of. Thanks to the intricacy and overall it-factor of the choreography, this boy band's taking things to a level that even professional dancers might have trouble keeping up with. In fact, these guys are so good that *NSYNC may have to say "Bye Bye Bye" to their unofficial title of Best Dancing Boy Band!
You probably know Ava Cota as the lovely, leggy dancer who was rejected from the Abby Lee Dance Company, on "Dance Moms," because she was "too tall." Now, that lanky frame is propelling her career as a model. Ava just made her New York Fashion Week runway debut, and we're guessing it won't be the last time the six-foot beauty graces NYC's catwalks.
The groundwork for Erin Carpenter's company, Nude Barre, began when she was a teenager. At 16, she earned a spot in the residency program at The Kennedy Center in partnership with Dance Theatre of Harlem. "We were required to wear nude—as in, our actual skin tone—tights and shoes," she remembers. Carpenter brought her "sun tan" tights and a pair of pink ballet shoes with her, because that was all she could find. But she wasn't allowed in class because her dancewear didn't match her skin. "I was so embarrassed," she says. "I looked unprepared. I just didn't have the right nudes." Her teacher explained that the dancers dyed their tights and pancaked their shoes.
New York City Ballet soloist and resident choreographer Justin Peck is never not busy: This year alone, he's created works for San Francisco Ballet, Miami City Ballet and NYCB. But Peck's latest ballet for his home company, The Most Incredible Thing, is his biggest production yet. Based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, it features 50 dancers; a score by Bryce Dessner, of the band The National; and costumes and sets by popular artist Marcel Dzama. Dance Spirit caught up with NYCB corps de ballet member Gretchen Smith, a Most Incredible Thing cast member, to get the scoop on Peck's new work. —Olivia Manno
Peridance Contemporary Dance Company members (photo by Karli Cadel)
Being the savvy dancers that you all are, you already know it’s a good idea to scope out hot, interesting choreographers, to discover who and what you really like—and what you like…less. Being informed about what’s happening in the dance world will help you choose which auditions to go to and who to take classes from once you’re on your own as a professional.
One of the best ways to see several different companies at once is to attend a showcase. This weekend, Peridance Contemporary Dance Company is sharing a program with three other NYC dance companies: SynthesisDANCE, Mettin Movement and :pushing progress. These companies are small but mighty—they regularly perform world premieres in some of NYC's coolest venues.
PCDC company member Eoghan Dillon (photo by Dekel Hamatian)
“Our group of dancers are all stand-outs, but during rehearsal we were pushed to our limits—both artistically and physically,” says full-time Peridance company member Eoghan Dillon. “I feel really connected to this work, and I’m itching to get out and perform it.”
If you're itching to see it, click here to buy tickets.