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Rockette Dance Journeys: From Auditions to Radio City

Four Radio City Rockettes reflect on how their formative years at The Ailey School and Pace University helped prepare them for careers in professional dance.

It’s almost time for the 2022 Rockettes Auditions! Ahead of the April 18 auditions, the Radio City Rockettes are sharing their unique dance stories that brought them to the Great Stage. Hear from four Rockettes as they share their personal experiences at programs like The Ailey School and Pace University, and how these workshops led to their dream job: becoming a Radio City Rockette! 

Maya Addie, The Ailey School

“My time in the Ailey/Fordham BFA program was incredibly informative. The training I received and the opportunities that were presented to me through this program led me to where I am now. Growing up, I trained in all styles and competed at a young age all the way through high school. My four years at The Ailey School gave me the time to really focus primarily on ballet and several modern techniques. The lessons I learned while focusing on those techniques helped me to approach other styles in a new way. I am so grateful for the training I received at The Ailey School and the constant support I received from my teachers to explore all areas of dance. Coincidentally, Ailey is where I had a more formal introduction to the Rockettes through workshops that they did a couple times each semester starting my freshman year. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine a few years down the line, I would be a Radio City Rockette!”

Danelle Morgan, The Ailey School

“My years spent in the Ailey/Fordham BFA Program were truly formative. I was able to study and work with wonderful educators, mentors, and world class choreographers who encouraged and nurtured me every step of the way. The incredibly well-rounded program provided me with a strong base of technique that gave me a genuine sense of excitement in preparing to take on the dance world. One amazing opportunity that I had while studying at the Ailey School, was the chance to participate in workshops with the Rockettes, which sparked my interest in becoming a Radio City Rockette. Thanks to these workshops, I auditioned for the Christmas Spectacular and was hired during my junior year of college! I fell in love with the work and, 16 years later, still love what I do!”

JoJo Carmichael, Pace University

“I feel very fortunate to have been able to train in the commercial dance program at Pace University over the past four years. In the program, I am given the space and have been inspired to bring myself and my unique artistry to any movement given to me. This is something that I carried with me in my pursuit to becoming a Radio City Rockette. This may seem like an ironic correlation because the Rockettes are known for precision and perfection, but the Rockettes are also a line of 84 individual women bringing their own individual spark to the movement. Training at Pace University has also been very challenging and pushed me to exceed limitations, which parallels the process of becoming a Rockette. One of the directors of the program was also a Rockette. She took me under her wing and began to train me in precision dance which was vital in my pursuit to becoming a Rockette as well. Being a senior now, it is really cool to reflect on my years in the program and see how I’ve evolved into the person and dancer I’ve become.”

Valeria Yamin, Pace University

“Studying at Pace University for the past 4 years has been an unforgettable experience. I knew it was the right choice for me because I wanted to get a BFA in Commercial Dance, but I also knew how well-rounded the training was, here at Pace. Our director Rhonda Miller, along with her assistant directors Lauren Gaul and Scott Jovovich, curated this program to focus on the versatility of the dancer. These mentors helped me navigate the arts industry and opened the door to many opportunities by instilling solid ballet and jazz foundations paired with other classes including: dance history, anatomy, partnering, modern, hip hop, body awareness, theatre dance, tap, jazz and ballet pedagogy, and more. Pace provided such a wide range of academic and physical training, and I felt prepared for anything the Rockettes would ask me to do – since versatility is an important characteristic as a Rockette.

Coming to Pace also helped me build a solid support system here in NYC. I have learned that surrounding yourself with people who inspire you and mentors that will guide you is important in this industry. Two women who inspired me to continue working towards my dream of becoming a Rockette are current Pace University professors Holly Evans and Lauren Gaul, who are former Rockettes. They gave me great advice and motivation as I balanced going to school and dancing with the Radio City Rockettes during my first season in 2021. 

I graduate this May from the Honors College with my BFA in Commercial Dance, and I simply cannot believe my time at Pace is coming to an end. I’m grateful for everyone who came along with me on this part of my journey and thankful for the growth I have experienced here as a dancer and a human. Time truly flies when you are having fun. I’ve enjoyed every moment of training at Pace and feel ready to spread my wings and FLY!”