On the Road with…Heather, Radio City Rockette
Photo courtesy of MSG Entertainment
The iconic Radio City Rockettes, with their synchronized kicks and smiling faces, have inspired young hopeful dancers for generations. Last Friday, November 7, marked the official start of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular 2014 season—which means the Rockettes will be kicking it into high gear for the next couple months. Between now and December 31 the Rockettes will perform in 200 shows at Radio City!
One of these long-legged dancers is Heather. Born and raised in Phoenix, AZ, Heather had early childhood dreams of being a Rockette. And now, here she is—marching on the big stage, high-kicking with Santa Claus, and living the New York City dream. Today, we are going On the Road With Heather to learn more about life as a Rockette, a New Yorker, and an Uber NYC rider.
How did you get your start as a Rockette? Growing up, my mom and I would watch the Rockettes perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Each time we watched them perform, I told her that I wanted to be a Rockette. I auditioned for the first time when I was 19 years old and made it to the final round of the audition, but I did not receive an offer. After my fifth audition, I decided that being a Rockette might not be something I was meant to do, so I took a couple of years off. In 2008, I was watching a program about the Radio City Christmas Spectacular on TV and said to myself, there is no reason why I am not up there dancing with them. In May 2009, I auditioned for the sixth time and ten years after my first audition, I got the job!
When did you start training and rehearsals for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular? As Rockettes, we train year round to make sure we are ready for the Christmas season. My training regimen includes: classes at Brooklyn Body Burn, Barry’s Bootcamp, Flywheel, and Broadway Dance Center. Rehearsals for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular begin at the end of September and we rehearse six hours per day for six days a week during the six weeks leading up to the show’s opening. We opened on November 7 and we run through December 31.
What does your typical day look like? I like to start my day with my favorite homemade protein pancakes and a cup of coffee. Since I perform in the evening shows, I have most of my mornings available for errands. I am currently training to be a fitness instructor at Brooklyn Body Burn, so I head there in the afternoons to train and then take a class to get my body warmed up for shows. I like to get to Radio City about an hour and a half before my first show starts.
How many performances do you do each week? There are more than 200 performances of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular between November 7th and December 31st. Each cast performs in up to 17 shows per week. We perform in up to four shows per day.
What are your 3 NYC go-to spots (restaurants, bars, museums, clubs, etc.)? The Tenement Museum in the East Village is a great place to visit if you want to learn about the history of New York City. The Cloisters in Washington Heights is next on my list. I also love trying out new restaurants but if I had to choose just one, I would pick Rosemary’s in the West Village.
Who were your inspirations growing up? My mother was my inspiration growing up, and still is today. She has been my number one fan from the start of my journey to become a Rockette. She owned the dance studio that I grew up dancing in and has taught me so much. It’s because of her that I am a Rockette today. Each year, she comes from Arizona to see the show–it has become our tradition.
Outside of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, what other responsibilities does a Rockette have? The Rockettes work year round outside of the Christmas season. We participate in a variety of events including the Tony Awards, America’s Got Talent, the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square, and the MLB All Star Game Home Run Derby. What I love about being a Rockette is that we have such a rich heritage and have continued to inspire young girls. I was one of those young girls that was inspired to follow my dream, and now I get to inspire others to do the same.
What songs or artists are currently on your playlist? I am a big fan of the 90’s and love Matchbox 20 and Alanis Morisette. The Rockettes in my dressing room love to get ready for our shows by listening to energizing music by Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, and Prince (just to name a few).
What’s the most common Uber trip you take? Uber is perfect for the late nights at Radio City when we have a 10:00pm show and don’t get out until close to midnight. Thanks to Uber, I don’t have to wait outside in the cold and watch taxis drive by after performing in up to four shows. I can just request my car from the dressing room and get home smoothly.
What’s the best experience you’ve ever had in an Uber? I took an Uber home last year after one of my late shows and my driver asked how my night had been. I told him that I was a Rockette in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and had just performed four shows. I could tell by his voice that he was very excited and he continued to tell me a story about how he had brought his daughter to see the show the year before and she loved it. Since then, he said, she hadn’t stopped talking about wanting to be a Rockette. While he was telling me the story, I got teary eyed because it reminded me of the magic that the Radio City Christmas Spectacular brings to people.
What’s next for you once the season is over? What I love about my job with the Rockettes, is that it’s never really over. When we are not performing in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, we are participating in a variety of events like performing on America’s Got Talent with Pitbull, which is one of my favorite Rockette memories. This upcoming March, we will debut an all-new show, New York Spring Spectacular.
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