How to be a rockette dancer
How to chase your dream of becoming a Rockette: NYCurious
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Every year, hundreds of dancers flock to New York City for the chance to spend the holiday season onstage at Radio City Music Hall alongside the Rockettes. With only 80 spots total, and even fewer open for newcomers each year, making it as one of the city’s iconic dancers isn’t an easy feat.
Many who’ve made it past the annual audition process and actually get to high-kick New Yorkers and tourists into the new year remain aware of the rarity of the position they hold. Park Slope’s Audrey Telemann, 25, says she’s still “so grateful” after nearly eight years on the team.
It’s not uncommon for the Rockettes to have spent years at local dance studios gearing up for their big moment. Several have dreamt of working at Radio City since seeing the show for the first time as children.
But there’s still hope for you to become one of the dancers even if your desire to do so is simply a new aspiration.
Below, we’ve broken down a bit of what you’ll need to know to become one of Radio City’s leading ladies, from those meticulous height requirements to audition process secrets.
Keep in mind, the road to the stage looks different for everyone. Heather Langham, 38, auditioned 10 times over the course of six years before finally becoming a Rockette in 2009. Telemann only auditioned once before being graced with the dance team’s title.
You have to be proficient in jazz, tap and ballet. It’s always a plus if dancers know other techniques, but not knowing pointe, for example, isn’t a dealbreaker. Rockettes use jazz, ballet and especially tap throughout the show, from the “12 Days of Christmas” to “Parade of the Wooden Soldier.”
You must be between 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-10 1/2 inches tall. The dance team is known for its strict height requirements, but they’re in place for a reason. The dancers are arranged in descending height order while in line to perform their iconic high kicks and other numbers to create the illusion that they’re all exactly the same height. When you get to the audition, they’ll measure you in “stocking feet,” meaning you’ll have to fit into the range without your tap heels on.
You must be at least 18 years of age. If your 18th birthday falls after Sept. 15 in the casting year, you’ll be allowed to audition with a consent form signed by a parent or guardian. Technically, there’s no maximum age limit, but Rockettes typically aim to hit the goal of at least 10 years on the stage before hanging up their tap shoes. Retired Rockettes often remain with the company, working backstage as dressers or teaching dance classes during the Radio City Summer Intensive workshop.
The audition process:
Two-day auditions are held each spring at Radio City. More than 400 women showed up to the April 2017 auditions. Since the auditions are open to the public, lines often grow outside the venue, and dancers are seen in order of arrival. Auditions take place in the Large Rehearsal Hall.
You’ll perform Rockette combo routines in groups. Dancers are split into five groups as they learn dance routines that gradually increase in difficulty. Routines vary between ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical and kicks.
Cuts are made after each routine. The “Christmas Spectacular” directors and choreographers watche while the dancers give it their all. They “look for dancers who are in great physical shape and have the stamina to perform in up to five 90-minute shows in one day,” according to a Rockettes blog post.
“They’ll teach you a basic kick and turn combo, then they do a cut in the first round. From there, those who made it will learn jazz, then another cut. Then they’ll teach more of the jazz combo, then a tap combo, and then if you made it that far, you’ll come back for the callback round,” Langham says.
You won’t get told why you didn’t make it. With hundreds of dancers to see in two days, the team can’t give individual feedback to all who try out. If you’re not asked to return for the second day, or don’t get a callback after round two, you won’t be told why. “There’s no feedback. You have to learn on your own in the audition process,” Langham says. “I make sure I’m watching the assistant helping the director, looking at their details and trying to replicate what they’re doing when they’re presenting. Feedback-wise, you have to go back off what you think and work harder on perfecting the style.”
Even if you become a Rockette, you’ll have to try out again each year. No spot on the Rockettes team is final. If you make it, you’ll be awarded a contract that stretches from September or October to early January, though it varies per Rockette. Once the contract ends, Rockettes attend the open auditions before being asked to return for the following season.
Tips from the Rockettes:
Get your body ready for the physical demands. Rockettes can do up to 300 kicks per show and as many as five shows per day, making it mandatory that the dancers are in top physical shape. “I started doing a lot of weight training. It’s not bodybuilding, but what I was doing was a lot of strength training and high intensity interval training to help with endurance,” Langham said.
Take part in the summer intensive. Several dancers who now call themselves Rockettes took part in the summer workshop before nailing their auditions. The workshop (about $1,099), led by former Rockettes, teaches you actual routines that’ll come in handy when performing. Plus, you’ll be able to take advantage of feedback. You can find out more about the program, which stretches June through August, at rockettes.com/rockettes-summer-intensive.
Don’t let defeat keep you down. “I’ve told a lot of the girls I worked with at the summer program that it’s really just a lot about passion and perseverance behind your dedication,” Telemann says. “If you want something, don’t let anyone stop you. Keep going after it and after it. I’ve told friends who auditioned many times you have to go back and smile be confident.”
How to Become A Rockette, According To the Coach Who's Trained 36 Of Them
After 12 seasons dancing with the Rockettes, Rhonda Kaufman Malkin knows a thing or two about becoming one of Radio City’s iconic dancers. Since 2006, Malkin has shared her secrets to success as a dance coach and personal trainer in New York City through her company Fusion Exercise. She’s had 36 students book the Rockettes, and numerous others land Broadway shows, national tours, commercials and even Beyoncé’s tour.
At the most recent Rockettes callback, over half of the 25 dancers had taken class with Malkin—and seven of them were offered contracts. Here’s how to get to Radio City, according to Malkin.
1. Identify your strengths and weaknesses.
“Some dancers have great ballet technique, but their jazz or tap skills may not be as strong, so I hone in on those areas,” says Malkin. For others, taking extra ballet classes to improve lines and alignment may be the missing puzzle piece.
2. Get in shape.
If a dancer is out of shape—lacking endurance, muscle tone or flexibility—Malkin switches on her personal trainer side to guide them back on track. “If you don’t walk into the audition ready to put on the costume, you won’t get work,” she says. “Directors never think, ‘Maybe if we give her two weeks she will look the part!'” More important than physical appearance is the overall strength benefits reaped from cross training—fewer injuries means more time to give 100% to training, auditions and eventually that dream job.
3. Dress the part.
Based on Malkin’s experience, wearing trendy items—like thigh high boots or crop tops—might make a dancer stand out, but not always in a good way. “The current Rockettes director is very traditional, so I advise my students to wear a leotard, flesh color tights, and nude heels, with hair in a French twist,” says Malkin. Makeup should be done as though “you are going on a date with the hottest person you know.” Let your talent, hard work and love of dance set you apart.
4. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t tap.
Some dancers shy away from auditioning for the Rockettes or classic Broadway shows because of their lack of tap skills. Malkin has had at least 10 students come to her with zero tap training who later booked the Rockettes. One student performed with a modern company for five years, and called Malkin saying she wanted to book the Rockettes. “She was hungry, focused and practiced my steps as well as taking additional tap classes,” recalls Malkin. “She booked the job within eight months.”
5. Skip contemporary class.
Over the years, Malkin has observed increasingly popular contemporary styles decreasing dancers’ abilities for precision, accurate counting and attack. So if a dancer is focused on becoming a Rockette or booking a classic Broadway show, Malkin strongly discourages taking contemporary classes.
6. Approach learning choreography as a skill.
During the first cut for the Rockettes audition, the combination is only demonstrated three times—you either get it or you don’t. But don’t stress if picking up choreography produces nightmares. Malkin’s success with her students proves it is a skill that can be learned. For starters, she suggests counting while learning choreography, otherwise you are already one step behind.
7. Focus on what’s in your control.
The requirements for being a Rockette are to be 5’6″-5’10.5″ tall and proficient in ballet, jazz and tap. If a dancer does not meet those height requirements, it is out her control. But the technical and artistic requirements are completely within the dancer’s power, and Malkin says those factors are the only ones worth worrying about.
8. Practice good audition etiquette.
If you get cut, simply say thank you and leave promptly. “You are never allowed to ask casting directors why you didn’t make the cut,” Malkin says. “That’s my job as a coach to identify.” If you do get to the end of an audition or callback, a simple thank you will do–no handshake required. Thank you notes are not required after auditions, but Malkin does advise sending handwritten notes to anyone involved in casting once a job is completed, saying you enjoyed the opportunity and hope to work with them again in the future.
where to study, salary, pros and cons
Author: Professional Guide
Dancer is a person of art who performs rhythmic movements to music, taking part in theatrical performances, shows. The profession belongs to the type “a person is an artistic image”, it requires excellent self-discipline and, of course, talent. Children who distinguish literature, physical education, music and singing from all school subjects can become dancers. By the way, the ProfGid career guidance center has recently developed an accurate career guidance test that will tell you which professions suit you, give an opinion about your personality type and intelligence. nineOl000
This profession has a rich history and is closely associated with the arts. However, the success of dancers by more than 50% depends on dedication, endurance, self-discipline. A specialist can work independently, performing solo choreographic numbers, it is also worth highlighting pair and collective dances. There are a lot of types and techniques of this art direction:
- pop and folk dance;
- historical dance and others.
Also distinguish styles such as street jazz, hip-hop, R'n'B, contemporary dance, street dance, etc. Dancers choose the style and type of performing arts based on their physical abilities, temperament, personal preferences. On stage, they create artistic images, convey emotions, making the hearts of the audience tremble. nine0003
Features of the profession
Anyone can become a professional dancer, but it is worth starting training in childhood. Choreographers recommend giving children to dance studios at the age of 3-7 years, which will allow them to develop good posture, plasticity, stretching, a sense of rhythm and other skills necessary for professional performance. Dancers most often work in 1-2 overlapping styles, they pay special attention to training and rehearsals, maintaining excellent physical shape. A career is short, because its peak is at the age of 15-25 years, and after 30 years, most specialists change their field of activity. They can realize their talent and knowledge in other areas, working as directors, choreographers, school teachers. nine0003
Dancers independently or under the guidance of a choreographer create performances: choice of music, sequence and rhythm of movements, costumes and image, facial expressions, plasticity. Before performing the dance, they rehearse for a long time, honing their skills. Many members of this profession often travel around their home country and travel abroad, where they give concerts. The activity is associated with certain difficulties, which leaves an imprint on the lifestyle and character of the dancer. nine0003
Pros and cons of the profession
- Excellent physical development, because dancing strengthens the body and willpower.
- Opportunity to work on the best stages.
- Talented dancers achieve success quickly.
- The profession is interesting, active and ambitious people will like it.
- Opportunity to earn income from various sources, because dancers work alone or in pairs, can take part in private productions, star in music videos. nine0016
- Useful business connections in the world of art.
- The opportunity to change the field of activity, because dancers often open schools, give private lessons, work as choreographers - the choice of directions is huge.
- High injury rate.
- Serious injuries can put an end to a professional career.
- Short career period.
- Very high competition.
Important personal qualities
Dancers have excellent plasticity, but in this profession not only technical performance is important, but also emotionality. The dancers convey the idea of the performance with the help of movements, facial expressions, so they must be distinguished by well-developed artistry. Increased efficiency, resistance to physical stress and low pain threshold are very important, because rehearsals and performances often end with sprains, dislocations and other minor injuries. nine0078 Only those people who do not suffer from laziness, negligence, and excessive self-confidence ascend to the pinnacle of success.
Professional education can be obtained in different institutions:
- schools and academies of choreography;
- dance studios;
There are no special requirements for the education of a dancer, the level of his skill is determined during choreographic tests. nine0010 It is worth starting training at a young age in order to reach a professional level. Let's consider the most interesting directions:
- "The art of dance (by type)", implemented in choreographic colleges and schools. You can start training after grades 7-9, which depends on the requirements of the college;
- The Art of Ballet. The direction of training is open in many creative colleges, studio schools, academies. Children who have completed the 4th grade of the school are invited to study. nine0016
You can also go to study at a university, choosing a specialty related to choreography, folk dance and other areas. Primary training can be obtained in public and private schools of choreographic art, during individual lessons.
12 budget places
- nine0002 4 years
23 budget places
8 budget places
16 budget places
Best Primary Schools
- Dance Quarter School.
- School for children "Dancevaliya".
- State 27 Dance Studio.
Best colleges and academies for dancers
- ARB im. A. Ya. Vaganova.
- MCU at the Moscow State Academy of Theater Arts "Gzhel".
- School-studio (school) at GAANT them. I. Moiseeva.
- KMTI them. G. P. Vishnevskaya.
- IPCC. nine0016
- ARB them. A. Ya. Vaganova.
- Russian State University A. N. Kosygin.
Place of work
Dancers are in demand in theaters, film industry and organization of holidays and events. They can work as teachers, find vacancies in nightclubs, private groups - there are many options for employment. nine0003
There is no exact tariff rate in this segment, because everything depends on the style in which the dancer works, personal qualities, education, reputation and experience. Dancers can receive a fixed salary or fees for each performance, lesson.
Dancer's salary for December 2022
Salary information provided by hh.ru portal.
Russia 25000-160000 RUB
Moscow 40000-100000 RUB
- Classical choreography.
- Fundamentals of physical training.
- Art History.
- Foreign languages (for professionals who work abroad).
- Karen Hardy.
- Ekaterina Krysanova.
- Yankovsky Vyacheslav Vyacheslavovich.
Examples of companies with vacancies as a dancer
Who is a dancer? A person who moves his arms and legs to the beat of music or his own internal rhythm is the simplest definition. From the point of view of art, the body is the same instrument as the cello or violin. This instrument expresses emotions, feelings and moods. Dancing is no less an art than wielding a brush. The harmonious unity of the mind, soul and body is important here. nine0003
Some people think that the ability to dance is an innate talent sent from above. This is not always the case, everyone can become a dancer. Anyone who loves music, who enjoys moving to it, is in fact already a dancer, in the broadest sense of the word. However, to become a truly professional dancer, you need aspiration, desire and perseverance.
As a rule, the title of a professional is given to those who have studied for several years in a dance class. Behind him are more than a dozen performances on stage, knowledge of the names of all dance movements and a pack of costumes on hangers. nine0003
When it comes to street dancing, the academic school can't help. A professional on the street is the one who dances the best in the area. Many people ask: how to become a street dancer? Only one way: watch and repeat. Watch how they do, what they do, what kind of music. Repeat at home in front of the mirror, over and over, until the result is satisfactory. The style of street dancing has long been on the stage, and you can learn it in studios with teachers. Of course, even when working in the studio, you cannot do without repetitions at home. You need to constantly hone your movements. nine0003
Success in the art of dancing directly depends on the goals set. Some want to dance professionally in the styles of Hip-Hop or Go-Go, others strive for a professional career in ballroom dancing, and others have long dreamed of participating in dance theater productions. People who from the very beginning wonder how to become a professional dancer often become the leading choreographers and art directors of their own dance studios.
Where to get knowledge to achieve your goals? We have already talked about the method of observation and self-study, as well as classes in dance circles. Another way to learn is to participate in master classes by visiting specialists and dance competitions. Any professional activity, including dancing, requires the intervention of experienced teachers. Dance competitions will help you get the necessary criticisms and tips to improve your technique. Naturally, one must be prepared for disappointments. But not a single remark should stop a true dancer on the way to his goal. nine0003
When a person thinks about how to become a good dancer, he thinks about how to acquire technique and finesse of movement, while forgetting about personal qualities. But they are no less important than the baggage of knowledge and experience gained. A lot is decided by the energy and charisma of the author of the issue. Does he have a talent, or does he mechanically repeat the learned movements? Is he lethargic or does his temperament make him get up from his chair and give a standing ovation? It is personal qualities that sound the very final chord that affects success. nine0003
Along the way, in the world of dance, physical abilities are improved, as well as spiritual traits of a person's character.