First-year Radio City Rockette Mara Ranson (center) in rehearsal (Carl Scheffel, courtesy MSG Photo)

Every year, hundreds of dancers audition for a chance to become a Radio City Rockette. Only a lucky few make the cut—this season, there are 13 newbies on the line—but many of them go on to perform with the Rockettes for years. Dance Spirit had the chance to listen in as first-year Rockette Mara Ranson asked 10-year veteran Corey Whalen all her burning questions about what it's really like to dance in the world's most famous kickline.—as told to Helen Rolfe

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Dancers Dish
Ailey II artistic director Troy Powell teaching an Ailey Workshop at NYCDA. Courtesy NYCDA

Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.

"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."

Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.

Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:

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Photo by Michael Cairns Photography, courtesy Exline

Congratulations to the September Cover Model Search Editors' Choice video winner, Chloe Exline! Catch her solo below, and make sure to enter the Cover Model Search here.

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Cover Model Search
Chris Moore, Courtesy Dream Duffel

Berkley Houchin is a dance competition powerhouse. At just 12 years old, Houchin boasts the resume of a much more seasoned dancer. When she isn't at home on her ranch in Amarillo, Texas with her family and her horse, Jazz, Houchin is managing a whirlwind schedule of dance competitions. She is currently a Pro Reveler at the Revel Dance Competition, and she was awarded "Junior Miss Encore" and Encore "Performer of the Year" in 2018, among others.

When Houchin travels for competitions, she currently has 14 dances in tow. She knows that having things packed correctly is the difference between being able to focus on her dancing or fretting over where her next headpiece is. We took a look in Houchin's Dream Duffel bag to find out how she keeps all the details straight so she can focus on the stage (and, we're giving away all her favorite Dream Duffel products!):

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Sponsored by Dream Duffel

B-boy Bailey Muñoz was recently announced as America's favorite dancer on season 16 of "So You Think You Can Dance," and one of his prizes was a spot on the cover of Dance Spirit. Go behind the scenes of Bailey's photo shoot, and watch him pay tribute to his fellow Top Ten dancers (and best friends).

Courtesy Just for Kix

Purple is often associated with royalty, power and wisdom. Sound like qualities you'd like to bring to your dancing? Same.

We rounded up our favorite purple looks from Just for Kix, for inside the studio or on the stage:

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Just for Inspiration, Sponsored by Just for Kix
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Essential info on more than 50 costume brands.

To get your costume company listed visit: or contact

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Darriel Johnakin is your 2019 Cover Model Search winner!

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Courtesy Madison Goodman

Congratulations to the August Cover Model Search Editors' Choice video winner, Madison Goodman! Catch her solo below, and make sure to enter the Cover Model Search here.

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Cover Model Search
Get Shot By Brian, Courtesy National Dance Showcase

In today's culture, winning is everything—so much so that most dance competitions highlight trophies above all else and emphasize the importance of being on top. But before platinum and first place became top priority, competitions were a chance for dancers to be inspired, have an incredible experience, and grow, as both artists and people.

Some competitions, like National Dance Showcase, are committed to presenting a new model, in the hope that other comps follow suit. Instead of promoting a culture where only winning matters, NDS focuses on nurturing the whole dancer. That doesn't mean NDS or comps like it are any less competitive—it's just about striking the right balance and remembering what a dance competition should really be about:

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Sponsored by National Dance Showcase



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