Yesterday was such a long day, I’m breaking it into two posts. So stay tuned for another post later today!
But I’ll start off with my second weekend working as a Rockette Assistant at Radio City!
After last weekend, Barbara (who works as BDC’s liaison to the Rockettes) came in on Monday and stopped by my desk. She came over to say that she was so proud of how well we all did last weekend. I was so excited! She went on and on about how impressed she was and how she thought she was seeing things when she saw us up front assisting with the mock audition! It was so great to hear good things from Barbara, and it made me more confidant going into this weekend!
This week, I did not wake up late. Thanks to my alarm (that I triple checked the night before) and my boyfriend, who was up working on projects until 5:45am (he’s becoming nocturnal), and texted me making sure I had woken up. Thanks, Joey 🙂
I donned my leotard and tights and made my way down our deserted street at quarter to seven. Seriously, if you ever want to see the Bronx when it’s quiet…any time before seven it’s like a ghost town. I got to Radio City a little bit early, but still went up to the rehearsal space with one of the other assistants who was there as well. As we set up the room and arranged the chairs neatly, I asked her about her audition experience. She’s auditioned several times and always gets all the way to the end, it’s just a matter of time now.
When girls audition for the Rockettes, there’s a lot of factors in play. Not only do you have to make it all the way to the end, through several cuts, but once you get there they take measurements. See, in order to join the Rockettes, you have to fit into a costume of a girl who is leaving. So if the only girls that are leaving are on the shorter side (5’6″ is the minimum height) and you’re 5’10” like me, your torso is probably going to be too long for their costumes. Even if you’re the best dancer there, if you don’t fit into the costume, someone else will the get the part. That’s why girls audition over and over…they’re just waiting for someone their size to leave!
The other assistant talked me through her audition process, which was very insightful and definitely something I’ll have to keep in mind before my audition in April (hopefully!!).
After our chat, it was time to get the day started. My job was to stand by the elevator and direct the dancers taking the workshop to the rehearsal space. In between groups of dancers, I peeked into the nearby rooms. There were real Rockette costumes all over the place! I couldn’t help but admire them up-close. I’d pick up one of the headpieces and pretend like I was wearing it, but put it down really quick as soon as I heard the elevator bell ring!
This week we had not one, but two Rockettes! The five assistants lined up in the front alongside the real pros. I couldn’t believe I was dancing next to two of Radio City’s Rockettes! After the warm-up we went into choreography.
I was surprised when we started learning a routine that was not what we learned last week. I figured the whole point of us standing in the back the first weekend was so that we’d know the choreography for this week when we were up front. I must have figured wrong because there we were learning three routines I’d never done. But this was a good thing! Now I had an even larger repertoire of Rockette choreography!
The jazz number was a lot slower this week which required an even higher attention to detail. The tap routine was a lot trickier as well, but I got it by the time I had to do it on my own! The kick routine had lots of the famous eye-high kicks, so you can bet I’m sore today.
Once we’d learned all the choreography, we arranged the 45 dancers into nine groups of five for the mock auditions. We took turns standing off to the side in pairs in front of the group of dancers “auditioning.” The Rockettes watched as they danced and it was our job to do the choreography so that if the dancers forgot, they could look at us, which, as I said last week, put the pressure on us! I think I was most nervous when we were doing tap, because the other assistant didn’t have time to put on her tap shoes (long story) so my taps were reverberating off the walls of the rehearsal space…they had to be perfect!
Once we were done with all nine groups doing all three routines, our duties were finished. Before I left though, I had a question to ask of one of our Rockette teachers. One of our teachers was busy doing the Q&A but the other was seated with the assistants. I sat down next to her.
“So, any advice for an aspiring Rockette?”
“Take a lot of classes,” she said. I nodded, knowing I’d taken the most classes I’d be taking for a while during my four months at BDC. “The hardest part for me was the strength required in every move.” She went on to talk about the precision, and how important attention to detail is. “In the audition, that’s what they’re looking for. How many details you can pick up on. So if their head is tilted like this, you tilt your head like that.” I listened really closely as she gave advice because she definitely knows what she’s talking about since she’s been a Rockette for nine years!
After my chat with the Rockette, it was time to go meet some Stonehill friends for a little time in the city! But more on the rest of my crazy Saturday later…
Christmas Countdown: 13 days!