Mia Michaels. The Rockettes. They're names that're synonymous with amazingness—which means a Mia/Rockettes collaboration is pretty much guaranteed to be fantastic.
We got a little taste of Michaels in Rockette mode last year, when she choreographed the New York Spring Spectacular's opening number. But for this year's updated New York Spectacular Starring The Radio City Rockettes, which opens June 15, Mia's in charge of EVERYTHING: She's both choreographing and directing. And that means she gets to train the full powers of her wildly creative mind on some of the world's most impressive—and impressively disciplined—dancers.
This morning, the Rockettes performed a bit of Mia's choreo on "The Today Show." It's actually the opening routine Michaels created for last year's show, set to "Welcome to New York." But as a preview of things to come, it's pretty darn exciting: The heartbeat-themed number features all the fine-tuned precision we've come to expect from the Rockettes, shocked into vibrant life by Michaels' high-energy choreography.
Photo via @therockettes on Instagram
This rehearsal clip alone is giving us serious #canongoals:
Watch the whole appearance, which includes an interview with Mama Mia, below—and then get your hot little hands on some New York Spectacular tickets.
It’s official! Not only are the Rockettes unveiling a brand new summer show this year—titled New York Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes—but they’ve also tapped genius Mia Michaels to choreograph and direct.
That’s right: Michaels will be given full creative reign. And after the awesome opening number she created for last year's Spring Spectacular, we’re super excited to see the finished product. "The Rockettes are such a special group of women, and no other dance company in the world delivers the same kind of passion, femininity and power through dance. It is going to be an epic ride!” Michaels says in a Rockettes press release.
A classic kickline from last year's Spring Spectacular show (photo by Jason Allen via USA TODAY)
The show will pay tribute to NYC, following the adventures of a brother and sister who get separated from their parents during a trip to the city. The siblings will make their way through the Big Apple, receiving help from various landmarks come to life—from the Wall Street bull to the George M. Cohan statue in Times Square.
A few favorite elements from last year’s spring show will make an appearance this year, too: The 26-foot Statue of Liberty puppet and the jaw-dropping tap number in real rainfall to “Singin’ in the Rain” (sans Derek Hough, unfortunately) will return. What won't be included this time around? The Spring Spectacular's celeb cameos, either in person (à la DHough) or via voiceover. The leggy Rockette ladies will be the stars of the show, which we're more than OK with.
The epic "Singin' in the Rain" tap number from last year's Spring Spectacular (photo by Dan Niver via NewYork.com)
The New York Spectacular runs all summer (June 15–August 7) at Radio City Music Hall. Be sure to check it out when you’re in town for Nationals or summer intensives!
The Rockettes know a thing or two about winter—after all, their Christmas Spectacular is pretty much the pinnacle of the holiday season. And now that winter finally seems to be here with its freezing temperatures (NYC's 75 degree Christmas was only a few weeks ago, after all!), we could certainly use some tips to help guide us through another few months of snowstorms, scarves and sniffles. That's where the Rockettes come in! Not only did they help us master their iconic dance moves last month, but they've got our backs again with nine tips for beating the winter blues. Rockette Katelyn G. says to just "embrace the snowy weather," Sarah G. says to "keep busy" and avoid the urge to hibernate until warm weather graces us with its presence again. All their tips might seem like no-brainers, and I can't speak for you guys. But I know I'm guilty of using winter as an excuse to a) never leave my house, b) sleep until noon and c) use the weather as an excuse for anything and everything, so thank you, ladies—I'll most certainly be using your tips for motivation. Promise! Check out the rest of the tips here.
The Rockettes showing us how a high kick is truly done. (Photo via Alive Mag)
Every year, Career Transition for Dancers—that fantastic organization that helps pro dancers figure out their post-dance lives—puts on a wonderfully over-the-top, star-studded gala. Attending it has become one of my favorite DS editor perks, because it's always so darn joyful—it's all about dancers celebrating dancers. Last night's gala show was a smorgasbord of awesome performances and touching tributes. Here are my top five highlights:
5. A ton of people did a delightfully schmancy take on the Shim Sham. To kick (or tap, rather) off last night's festivities, the American Tap Dance Foundation gathered a stageful of tappers, young and old, to perform a dressed-up version of the classic routine. It was really moving, actually—a tradition being passed from one generation to the next, right before our eyes.
4. The Dance Theatre of Harlem dancers proved they could get down—in pointe shoes. The company's gorgeous classical dancers got in touch with their funkier sides in an excerpt from Robert Garland's Return, set to the music of James Brown. The only thing better than beautiful ballet technique is beautiful ballet technique mixed with the Mashed Potato.
3. There was a Rockette alumni kickline, and it was glorious. 14 lovely former Rockettes reunited to accompany Broadway legend Karen Ziemba's performance of "I Wanna Be a Rockette." (The group included our friend Amanda Kloots-Larsen.) Naturally, it was leg heaven. Once a Rockette, always a Rockette!
2. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Kirven Douthit-Boyd showed off his insane body control. He performed Takademe, choreographed by Robert Battle—a tour-de-force solo that's basically a visual illustration of its intricate, spoken-word Indian Kathak score, matching every single syllable with a gesture. And, um, there are a LOT of syllables. Douthit-Boyd had the audience erupting in spontaneous cheers throughout his performance—he was that unbelievable.
Douthit-Boyd in Takademe (photo by Paul Kolnik)
1. Angela Lansbury received the Rolex Dance Award, and we all decided to be Angela Lansbury when we grow up. Mrs. Potts is, unsurprisingly, the class act to end all class acts. Though she isn't really known for her dance skills per se, her acceptance speech was a lovely, heartfelt tribute to dancers and former dancers. And then she gave us some Fosse kick action on her way offstage, and our hearts melted into happy little puddles. (Also, fellow theater legend James Earl Jones presented her award, which, THAT VOICE.)
Last week I rounded up five reasons you should make seeing the Radio City Christmas Spectacular an absolute priority this holiday season.
In the very weird chance you're not totally convinced yet, here are some fun facts about the nation's #1 holiday show...
Photo courtesy Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
More than 1 million pairs of 3D glasses are distributed to patrons to experience the new "3DLive" scene featured in this year's production.
It takes more than 250 people just to stage the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, including the cast and crew.
There is a cast of 150 including Rockettes, singers, dancers, musicians and more.
More than 1,200 costumes are worn in the show. Each Rockette changes costumes eight times during the show, and in a few of the changeovers, they have as little as 78 seconds in which to change their costumes.
The double-decker bus in the "New York at Christmas" scene weighs 7 tons! It's 34 feet long and 12 feet high. In the course of the show's 8-week run, it will travel approximately 37 miles onstage. When the bus is offstage, it hangs 23 feet in the air at stage left for storage.
During the show's run, the animals from the Nativity scene drink 450 bottles of water and eat 340 bales of hay and 560 loaves of 7-grain bread.
Both the "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" and the "Living Nativity" scenes have been part of the Radio City show since 1933.
Throughout the season, the wardrobe department will go through more than 15,000 red dots used to brighten the cheeks of the Rockettes in the "Wooden Soldier" routine.
The production staff for every show includes 23 carpenters, 20 electricians, 15 prop people, 7 sound people, 28 wardrobe people, 2 projectionists, 5 stage managers, 8 animal handlers and 40 orchestra members.
180 laundry baskets are used during each show to hold and carry the cast's shoes, laundry and costumes.
Between the Rockettes, chorus and Santa, more than 1,200 pairs of shoes are worn per show.
350 loads of laundry are done per week, non-stop most days, for 16 hours per day during the week, plus 20 hours per day over the weekend.
...and a partridge in a pear tree.
Would The Rockettes really be The Rockettes without those glittery, shiny, fabulous costumes? The legalicious troupe has a legendary wardrobe—and Project Runway wants you to add to it!
Get your faux-fur trim and Swavorski crystals ready: The Project Runway Rockettes Design Challenge is accepting Rockette costume design submissions on Facebook through October 26. Not sure your sketching skills are up to par? No worries—they've created a handy-dandy app that will help you bring your sequined fantasy to life. And the winner will receive VIP tickets to the Project Runway show, a chance to meet the Rockettes, a trip to NYC during fashion week and a gift card for $2500. Not too shabby, eh?
Click here to get all the contest deets. As Tim Gunn would say: "Make it work!"
Are you ready to party like it's 1776? Here's hoping your 4th of July celebrations tomorrow include dancing of some kind, whether you'll be busting out your red-white-and-blue–sequined unitard (what, doesn't everyone have one of those?) or just grooving by the grill.
To help you get in the spirit of things, here's a roundup of patriotic dance moments:
George Balanchine's Stars and Stripes. Sousa marches + baton twirling + tutus = one festive (and cutely tongue-in-cheek) ballet.
Reno Sweeney and the Anything Goes tap-dancing sailors. Does it get any more (S. S.) American than that?
The Rockettes, entertaining sailors during Fleet Week. Those costumes alone are worth a salute.
Kendra Wilkinson and Louis Van Amstel's "Yankee Doodle Dandy" foxtrot on "Dancing with the Stars." Don't think too hard about this one—just enjoy the crazy.
And last but not least: American Girl Molly McIntire as Miss Victory at the "Hooray for the U.S.A." show. Oh come on—you remember this! Her struggle to get her hair to curl perfectly? The suspense about whether her tap teacher, Miss LaVonda, would choose her for the role? (I miss being 8.)
Happy 4th, everyone! See you back here on Thursday.
Last night was the Capezio 125 Years Anniversary Celebration, and they put on one fabulous show. It was all in celebration of the dancewear company that Nigel Lythgoe (in his introduction speech) called “the Sopranos of dance.” And he’s got a point: Capezio probably sold you your first pair of pointe or tap shoes, but did you know that Salvatore Capezio opened his first store at the age of 17, and the company has been passed down within his family for five generations? Plus, every pair of shoes is handmade!
Capezio also knows how to celebrate in style: Stellar performances included American Ballet Theatre’s Misty Copeland and Jared Mathews, Momix, The Lombard Twins, Rock Steady Crew and The Rockettes. (Phew!) Here were some of my favorite moments:
* Is that a centipede? A scarily-long arm? No, it’s iLUMINATE, one of the most innovative new dance groups around. Perfectly timed lights keep you guessing the whole time. Check them out on "America's Got Talent" to see for yourself:
* Don’t you love when a bunch of boys come together to show off tricks, flips and flawless technique? Did I mention they were shirtless? The Bad Boys of Dance’s choreography to Queen and Michael Jackson music was red hot, and it was fun to pick out some of my favorite male dancers like Jakob Karr and Rasta Thomas.
* There’s nothing classier, sexier or jazzier than original Fosse choreography. Especially when it’s done by Broadway greats. Jennifer Dunne, David Warren Gibson and Dana Moore were flawless as they revived The Mansion Trio from Pippin. And, man, could they pull off those fishnets and high-cut leotards! Here's a great video from 1972:
* Broadway legend, Ann Reinking shocked us all by appearing to introduce Tommy Tune as the winner of the 61st Capezio Dance Award. Looking stunning in white, she brought back memories of the classically dressed Grace Farrell she played in Annie (pictured). Oh yeah, and only Tommy Tune could make a bright red suit look timeless.
* Some of the best moments were the out-of-the-blue cameos by dance celebs who made me smile. And Mandy Moore’s Break the Floor routine was full of them. Not only did it feature many of my favorite comp kids and teachers (they couldn’t even all fit onstage at once!), but TWitch and Nick Lazzarini also fought to be Moore’s dance partner. Before long, TWitch was stolen away by none other than “Dance Moms’” Abby Lee Miller! The audience went wild.
Thanks for a great night, Capezio! And thanks for all the shoes.