When I was 12, I saw the Radio City Rockette Christmas Spectacular and as a dancer, it was a major inspiration. The Rockettes are my epitome of grace, beauty and talent. After watching them perform, I knew what I wanted to be. Last winter, I saw an ad for the Rockette Summer Intensive, a training program for future Rockettes. My dance teacher had encouraged me to audition for intensives and workshops to improve my technique, so I decided to give it a shot. I came up with the required short jazz and tap combination and my dance teacher’s fiance filmed my audition.
I wasn’t convinced I would be accepted and as the months passed, I assumed I wasn’t good enough. Then I received a big envelope from the director of the summer intensive - I had been accepted!
The day I arrived in New York was amazing. I stayed in the same hotel as many of the other girls and became friends with people from across the country who shared my dream of making a living on stage. The first day, parents joined us for the orientation and tour of Radio City. We received official passes and discovered where we would be performing at the end of the week - in a Broadway theater!
When the parents left, we were directed to the seventh floor dance studios for a placement audition. I pulled on my La Duca character shoes and stepped out onto the floor when my name was called to perform a short routine and kicks. I was placed in the more advanced group and learned choreography from the actual Christmas Spectacular, which we would perform at the end of the session.
We took four classes every day, each two hours long, and I learned everything I would need to know about the Rockette audition process. Guest speakers told us about the business aspect of the industry and shared information about finding an apartment in New York, auditioning, and finding work. This was very helpful since I plan to break into the business after high school. I also met many interesting girls who shared my dreams. Living in Ohio, I find it hard to make friends who have dreams as big as mine and understand what I do.
At the end of the week, all dancers met at the American Airlines Theater on 42nd Street for our performance. We ran through the three dances we would be doing, then returned to the penthouse to do our hair and makeup. As showtime approached, we were told that the house was packed.
We got into our kick line order, which required the tallest girls to be in the middle. The performance went much too fast, and as we did the last set of 14 kicks, I realized the show was about to end. The audience went crazy and it was hard to see through the camera flashes. After the curtain fell, we had our pictures taken with some of the Rockettes and on stage with our friends.
The experience was amazing and one that I will always remember. I hope to become a Rockette and this intensive was a real confidence booster. When it was time to leave I was overwhelmed with sadness. Being in New York City made me realize that that is exactly where I belong.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.