From Comp Kid to Clara

Each spring, young dancers from across the country travel to NYC to audition for the chance to perform alongside the Rockettes as Clara in Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular. This year, all six of the Claras (from the touring and NYC casts) are dancers from the competition scene! We caught up with them to learn a little bit more about their new roles.

Courtesy A Wish Come True

MADELEINE GARDELLA

Age: 13

Hometown: Yardley, PA

Studio: The Dance Academy

Cast: NYC at Radio City Music Hall

What was the Clara audition like? “We were taught a combination, split into groups of three and asked to dance for the judges. It was like a convention audition—we learned a new combination and the cuts were based on our abilities to learn the combo quickly and execute it well.”

What’s the most exciting part about getting to dance the part of Clara? “I’ll be dancing with the world-famous Rockettes in NYC! Since the Christmas Spectacular has new and old favorites, a 3-D adventure and new music and costumes this season, there are a lot of things that I’m pumped about. Being part of the show is an outstanding opportunity. It’s an annual tradition for many families. I can’t wait to perform and bring people the magic of Christmas.”

What are you most nervous about? “My nerves get to me when I think about how huge the Radio City Music Hall stage is—it’s nearly the size of a city block!”

Courtesy Juliet Doherty

JULIET DOHERTY

Age: 14

Hometown: Albuquerque, NM

Studio: Fishback Studio of the Dance

Cast: NYC at Radio City Music Hall

What advice do you have for dancers who want to audition for the role of Clara? “Make sure you’re comfortable dancing on pointe and, most importantly, be genuine, smile and present the choreography with confidence.”

Courtesy Break The Floor Productions

SARAH SIBOLE

Age: 12

Hometown: Dearborn Heights, MI

Studio: Noretta Dunworth School of Dance

Cast: Nashville, TN, at the Grand Ole Opry

How did you feel when you learned you’d been cast as Clara? “I was in the dressing room at Nationals when I got the call from Radio City. I saw the NYC area code on my mom’s cell phone, and I knew it must’ve been about Clara. I was thrilled, and that feeling lasted all day while I was competing.”

Photo by Shannon Hager/XML Photography

CHLOE ELLIS

Age: 11

Hometown: Mooresville, NC

Studio: The Academy of Dance and Fine Arts and Piedmont School of Music and Dance

Cast: Durham, NC/Boston, MA

Why are you excited to play Clara? “It’s such an honor to be around these dancers and to learn from them. I’m going to be a part of this Christmas tradition!”

Courtesy Kalyn Berg

KALYN BERG

Age: 13

Hometown: Tucson, AZ

Studio: Tucson Dance Academy

Cast: Durham, NC/Boston, MA

What was the Clara audition like? “I was very nervous. There were a lot of girls there and everyone was so talented.”

Why is this show special? “I did the arena tour last year and it’s the best feeling seeing how the Christmas Spectacular makes everyone happy for the holidays! It’s wonderful being a part of something that makes people smile and brings joy to their hearts.”

Photo by ProPix

LAUREN YAKIMA

Age: 10

Hometown: Northville, MI

Studio: Noretta Dunworth School of Dance

Cast: Nashville, TN, at the Grand Ole Opry

How did you feel when you found out you’d been cast as Clara? “I cried because I was so happy! My sister was a Clara in the Radio City show for four years and I had dreamed about doing it, too. And now I get to!”

 

 

If you’re between the ages of 7 and 14, proficient on pointe and 4’ 10” or shorter, you can audition to be Clara, too! Specific casting information will be posted at radiocity.com in February 2012.

Dance News
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)

Congratulations to 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 by clicking on their names here:

Read Darriel's profile here

Read Diego's profile here

Read Emma's profile here

And then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.

We also want you to get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.

Cover Model Search
Madison Jordan and Jarrod Tyler Paulson brought their real-life romance to the audition stage. (Adam Rose/FOX)

It's usually right around the third or fourth week of "So You Think You Can Dance" audition rounds that we start itching for the live shows. Sure, the auditions are fun, inspiring, and entertaining, but at a certain point, we reach audition saturation. (And the live shows are just so good and feature so much more Cat Deeley.)

All that said, Nigel and co. kept things spicy this week, so our attention remained firmly glued to the screen. (It's been 16 seasons—who are we to doubt Nigel Lythgoe, sir?) Here's how it all went down.

Keep Reading Show less
Dance on TV
Photo by Erin Baiano

When it comes to injury-prone body parts, knees reign supreme for dancers. But a little strengthening can go a long way in preventing painful outcomes. We turned to Dirk Hartog, a physical therapist with Westside Dance Physical Therapy in NYC, for three exercises that'll support and stabilize your knees.

Keep Reading Show less
Fitness

Video

mailbox

Get Dance Spirit in your inbox

Giveaways