How did you start dancing?
I started when I was 7. I have an older sister, only 15 months older than me, who started dancing before I did. Of course, I would stand in the door dancing too. I think it was only a few days later that my Mom decided to put me in dance classes too. I fell in love with it immediately, and I was drawn towards ballet. I was different from my sister who didn’t like to take ballet. I was the opposite. All I wanted to do was ballet. As I got older, I just knew that was what I wanted to do. Originally, I wanted to be a ballerina with a tutu and a tiara, but as I got older, I realized there were other forms of dance, and that ballet wasn’t the only thing out there.
When did you find out that you wanted to dance for life?
My family always went to see the Christmas Spectacular, even though we’re a Jewish family [laughs]--but the show is for everyone. My parents knew that my sister and I would love everything about it. I was mesmerized by the little girl on pointe, Clara. I told my mom she must take me to the audition when I started pointe. At age 11, I auditioned, and my dream came true. I was Clara in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. That really opened my eyes up to the Rockettes. I was so short when I first started that job. I was really tiny. Maybe 4’8”. So to me, the Rockettes seemed 8 feet tall. I would just wish every night that I would grow tall enough that I could audition to become a Rockette. I think that’s what really started it. I was still on the ballet track, but I always thought that I am also going to be a Rockette, if I grow tall enough.
After performing as Clara, I continued my pre-professional training at New Jersey Ballet School and spent my summers training at The School of American Ballet, here in New York City at Lincoln Center. School of American Ballet is a Balanchine school, and it was my first time ever doing Balanchine technique. I fell in love with it. It was amazing. As I got older I started do more jazz and tap in addition to my professional ballet training. I realized I would never lose my love for ballet but I wanted to pursue becoming a Rockette or a Broadway performer.
When I was going to school at Montclair State University for a degree in psychology, I would go into the city every day to train as much as possible in all different styles of dance. I went to classes at Steps and Broadway Dance Center where they have theatre jazz, tap, basically every style. I would take the street jazz, contemporary, tap, anything and everything that would really push me out of my comfort zone. There’s so much that’s offered here in Manhattan, and that’s what’s really amazing.
Where are you from?
I am from North Caldwell, NJ. It is about a 30-minute drive to NYC, without traffic. Could be 2-hours. I went to high school part-time. I would leave school at 1 and would take the bus into the city 4-6 days a week. I would also take ballet classes in New Jersey. I was training 7 days a week. My sophomore year in high school, I actually lived out in Chicago with my grandparents. I went to the School of Ballet in Chicago, still wanting to be a ballerina, but I just knew I had to be performing somehow. Performing makes me feel at home, I dont even know how to explain in words what it feels like when I’m on stage performing. But it is what I love more than anything.
What are some of the most memorable performances you’ve had?
The first time I danced on the Radio City stage was incredible. When that curtain rises and you see that theatre and the audience, it’s unreal. Absolutely amazing. My first performance with the Rockettes was not actually in the Christmas Spectacular. It was a PR event for the grand re-opening of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. There was a huge flood in Nashville, and it was really devastating. They had a big grand re-opening for the Gaylord Opryland hotel with over two million christmas lights and fireworks. We performed a number, and in a kickline, we counted down to the grand re-opening. The entire stage and hotel was shining in lights and fireworks were booming everywhere. For me, it was my first time ever doing a kickline in front of an audience, and it was such a beautiful moment. I was living my dream. It’s a performance I will never forget.
I performed extensively with New Jersey Ballet Company, with their junior company. I performed in many of their major Ballets. I got a lot of great professional experience with the company. When I was younger training at New Jersey Ballet School, I got asked to perform in the children roles of their Ballets. That was very exciting. I couldn’t wait for the rehearsals to start. Before the performances, I couldn’t sleep. I got to perform in the Nutcracker as well. My first role was a clown and a cousin in the opening party scene. I would wear my rollers--because our hair had to be curled for the party scene--proudly to school. As I got older, I advanced to perform in Waltz of the Flowers, Snow, and Arabian, roles that I only once dreamed of doing. Every year when I can, I try and see the company perform a few times and it brings back such great memories.
After participating in the Rockette summer intensive, I auditioned for a position as a Radio City Rockette and was hired in 2010. It’s amazing to have such teamwork. In ballet, you want to work hard for yourself and for your amazing company members, but the goal is to be a principal dancer. I love being part of a group. Everyone works together to create one big picture. That is something so important with Rockettes, because it takes every single lady dancing precisely in sync to create magic on stage. I like that. I like that we are one. I don’t need to be doing a solo by myself. I’d rather feel this energy with 36 ladies. It’s insane. It’s really pretty crazy.
Everyone is so helpful, supportive and rooting for each other. We’re a team and I love that. When I was in high school watching the field hockey team and the lacrosse team on their game days all uniformed, I would be like, “That looks so fun, what’s that like?” Now I feel like that with the Rockettes, I get to see what that’s like. Some days in rehearsal we’ll have crazy legging day. On Saturday we’ll have silly shirt Saturday. I don’t know, it’s just fun. It’s really awesome.
What do you want to do from here?
Maybe it’s just a dancer thing or also just a perfectionist thing to know exactly what our path is. My New Year’s resolution is to be living in the present and not obsess over planning my whole life. To just follow what my heart tells me. In this business, you never know what’s going to happen. I am trying to live and work hard every single day, and hopefully continue to my career as a Rockette for now and I am open to where my dance future takes me. Dancing on Broadway would also be awesome! As long as I am performing, I am happy.
What do you do on your off-season?
The first two years in the off-season I went back to school to finish my degree in psychology, and then last year, I was working as a personal assistant for a film director. That was really fun. It was a great experience. This year I decided I just really wanted to focus on dancing all the time and auditioning and getting myself out there. I also started vocal training, to continue making myself as versatile as possible. I did tours at Radio City where people can tour the theatre and then get to meet a Rockette. They can ask questions and take pictures with me. It’s really great to interact with the fans.
Do you have any advice for other dancers?
My dad gave me this sticker that says, “Dance like nobody’s watching.” You really just have to have confidence in yourself and believe in yourself. You can hope for something all you want, but you also have to work hard. You can’t just hope that you get something and wait around. You have to have a dream and a goal, but you really have to have a good work ethic and determination to be able to achieve it. If you believe in yourself, and you don’t compare yourself to other people, and dance and work hard for yourself, I think that you can achieve anything you want.
What was the toughest time you went through as a dancer?
When I was 16, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a ballerina anymore. My legs don’t have that hyperextended line you see on ballet posters. Teachers were constantly trying to get my knees to touch in first position. I really started to hate the fact that my legs weren’t hyperextended. I would sit at home on one chair with my feet out on another chair with books on my knees, hoping that maybe it would change the shape of my legs. Finally I realized that my legs were never going to change. Ballet was making me so critical of myself, and I was starting to only focus on what I didn’t have rather than being proud of the attributes I did have. I think that was a rough year when I realized that you have to accept what you have and be confident in who you are.
What’s your favorite part about the city?
I love to walk, and here in Manhattan you can walk everywhere. I really don’t like driving. I hate it. I love that I have my subway. If it’s raining, I can take a taxi, and I don’t have to drive. I love that the city has everything. I don’t think there’s anything that the city doesn’t have. Anything I want to do, any type of class I want to take, any type of experience I want to have, I feel like I can have it right here in the city. I also live by Central Park, which is amazing, because sometimes I go in there, and I am like, “Wait, we’re still in Manhattan?” I just think the city is a gem. It’s a city where dreams come true.