Behind the Scenes: Auditioning for the Rockettes Summer Intensive
Experiencing what life would be like as one of the glamorous Rockettes is a dream for many, but a reality for Kristen Smith and Aimee Lane. After intense auditions, both girls earned coveted spots in the six-day Rockette Summer Intensive in NYC (42 alumni of the intensive have become world-famous Rockettes!). The girls are also featured on the MSG Varsity three-part series “The Rockette Summer Intensive," which follows several girls as they vie for positions in the workshop. Kristen and Aimee talked to DS about the audition process and their goals for the summer.
Dance Spirit: What did you do to prepare for the audition? Kristin Smith: The main thing I did was take extra dance classes. At the audition, they look at your jazz and tap technique, but I also worked on my ballet, since that is a requirement for the intensive.
Aimee Lane: I try to get as much sleep as I can before auditions. I don’t do a lot of hard workouts, as that can tighten up my muscles. Plus, I start practicing my hair and makeup about three days before any audition. The Rockettes’ signature hairstyle is a French twist, which is really hard to do on yourself!
DS: What was the audition process like? KS: We first learned a jazz routine and then a tap routine. For both of them, we split into groups of three to audition. I just thought of the audition as a normal dance class.
AL: Obviously, you have nerves because there’s a lot weighing on the audition day—you’re dancing in front of actual Rockettes! It can be stressful because they teach you the choreography quickly and it really puts your mind to the test. If you have one finger out of line, they notice.
DS: What do you hope to learn at the Summer Intensive? KS: This intensive is so different and unique—it has a great atmosphere and it’s less competitive than other workshops. I look forward to learning more about myself as a dancer.
AL: The Rockette style is such a different genre of tap and jazz than what you’re used to at a studio. I’m hoping to gain even more knowledge and background about the Rockettes to use for the future (I would love to intern with the Rockettes next year!).
DS: What are your future dance goals? KS: In the fall, I'll be attending The Boston Conservatory for dance. I hope to someday become a Rockette and maybe audition for professional ballet companies. I also would love to teach dance during my performance career.
AL: To be a Rockette! Broadway is my other passion—for college, I’ve been looking into NYC schools with strong musical theater programs.
Follow Kristen, Aimee and other hopefuls throughout their audition process in “The Rockette Summer Intensive” airing tonight at 7:30 on MSG Varsity.
Photos top to bottom: Dancers audition for the Rockettes Summer Intensive; Summer Intensive hopefuls lined up at Radio City Music Hall in NYC. Both courtesy the Rockettes.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?
Corbin Bleu in rehearsal for "Kiss Me, Kate" (Jenny Anderson, courtesy Roundabout Theatre Company)
If you're a hardcore Broadway baby, today is the worst Sunday of the year. Why, you ask? The Tony Awards were last Sunday, so basically there's nothing to look forward to in life anymore—no James Corden being James Corden, no teary acceptance speeches from newly minted stars, no thrilling excerpts from the hottest new shows. Oh yeah, and there are 50 more Sundays to go before our humdrum lives are once again blessed with the next annual iteration of Broadway's biggest night.