It was a warm day in April, but at Radio City Music Hall people were already getting into the holiday spirit: Nearly 500 dancers were about to audition for a chance to perform as a Rockette in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Members of the staff greeted each other with “Merry Christmas!” as they herded the nervous, LaDuca-shod auditionees through the theater’s maze of hallways and rehearsal studios.
For the Rockette hopefuls, the day was a whirlwind. After learning and performing four 8-counts of the Rockettes’ signature precision jazz choreography in just 30 minutes, they found out whether they’d made the audition’s first cut. What does that kind of intense pressure feel—and look—like? Dance Spirit went behind the scenes to find out.
Dancers came from all over the country to audition for the Rockettes—many of them for the second, third or even fourth time.
After posting her dance video on the Rockettes’ Facebook page, Paige Melanson, from Las Vegas, was voted the winner of the Rockettes’ “Jump the Line” contest, which earned her a trip to NYC for the audition.
“Our nerves were going!” Paige says of the audition’s first round. “Linda was very precise about where your arms had to be, where your foot had to be, where your fingers had to be.”
“The Rockette style is all in the details. Precision dance isn’t like anything else. You can be a great dancer and not be good at this.” —Linda Haberman, director and choreographer of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular
The dancers learned the routine in one large group, practiced a few times in smaller groups and then performed for the creative team in trios.
Paige made it through the first cut, but was not called back after the second round. “Of course I felt a little disappointed,” she says. “But there’s always next year.”