Alexis Stewart of Elmont, NY, rehearses her performance to “He Lives in You” from The Lion King in front of celebrity guest mentors Mindless Behavior, Darryl McDaniels of Run DMC, Broadway actor Tony Vincent, Rockettes Karilyn Surratt and Tara Dunleavy and Knicks City Dancers Alyssa Quezada and Ana DeMatos. (by Kristina Bumphrey/Starpix)
Rockettes are famous for their lengthy legs, perfect time steps and star quality—but what many don’t know is what they’re up to when they’re not on stage. Each spring, the Rockettes, alongside other divisions of the Madison Square Garden Company, give children their own shining moment on the Radio City stage through non-profit charity Garden of Dreams.
Established in 2006, Garden of Dreams turns dreams into realities for children facing adversities from illness to homelessness. The Rockettes serve as judges, mentors and inspirations for children who audition for the charity’s talent show, which takes place on the Radio City Music Hall stage. So far, Garden of Dreams has provided magical and memorable opportunities for over 225,000 children and their families!
Here’s how it works: Last month, contestants auditioned for a rotating panel of expert judges including Broadway stars, Knicks City Dancers and, of course, Rockettes. Then, those who were chosen presented their acts twice more before the final performance while getting pointers from the judges on how to fine-tune their acts and eliminate their nerves. The final talent showcase, called “Dare to Dream,” is this Tuesday, April 16, and it will include approximately 200 children from across the tri-state area.
What are the highlights? There are too many to count! But Rockette and judge Tara Dunleavy told DS: “A 5-year-old boy will sing Bruno Mars. He’s so cute and fearless, and so much fun to watch.”
If you're in NYC, there’s no reason to miss this touching event, because it’s open to the public and free of charge! For more info, check out gardenofdreamsfoundation.org
(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?
There's a story Kate Walker, director of dance at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX, loves to tell about Emma Sutherland, who just graduated from the program. "We were watching the students run a really long, challenging piece," Walker recalls. "Several kids couldn't quite make it through. But Emma did make it all the way to the end, which is when she walked up to us faculty and very politely asked, 'May I please go throw up?' "