In celebration of Black History Month, Radio City Rockette LaTarika Pierce shares her journey from her local dance troupe to Radio City Music Hall. Hear more about her inspiring journey to becoming a Rockette below!
I was first introduced to dance at three years old when my mom enrolled me and my sister in classes at a local studio. We danced there for three years until my mom decided to enroll us in other activities like Girl Scouts, swim lessons, and drill team. Dance made a reappearance in my life when I was 13 when, on the first day of middle school, it was the first class of the day. I was really shy, so the thought of dancing in front of other people made me want to hide, but eventually, I got used to performing in front of my classmates and began to actually enjoy it. One of the requirements of the class was to perform in the school’s winter dance concert. Once I got on that stage, I immediately knew that I wanted performing to be part of my life. The following year I auditioned for the school’s dance ensemble and have never looked back.
In high school, I joined a dance line that was majorette-inspired. I also became an original member of a dance company that my middle school teacher started: Concepts in Choreography. My teacher continued to support me, and helped me earn a scholarship to a local studio my senior year so I could have a better chance of getting accepted to college for dance. I began college as a dance major, but ultimately switched my major to Business Administration with a concentration in Finance. I did continue to dance, though, whenever I could, and once I graduated from college, decided to pursue dance full-time.
I remember when I was 15, my dance teacher asked me if I had ever heard of the Radio City Rockettes. At that time, I had no idea who the Rockettes were, so I went home and researched the dance company and immediately knew that I wanted to join the line one day. At that time, they offered a three-hour Rockettes Dance Workshop where you could learn choreography from the show and receive feedback from Rockettes. I attended the workshop and fell in love with the style, and decided then that this was my goal.
I auditioned for the Radio City Rockettes for the first time when I was 18. I was cut the first round and felt defeated. My parents reassured me that it was okay to be disappointed, and that there was always next time. Three years later, I decided to try auditioning for the Rockettes again. And once again, I was cut during the first round. While I was upset, I was reminded of what my parents had told me after my first Rockettes audition. I went home and came up with a plan. I didn’t know how long it would take, but I knew that the next time I auditioned I would give it all I’ve got.
I graduated from college and put my plan into action. I again attended the open call auditions and this time, I made it through the first round, and it ended up being a two-day process with multiple rounds of cuts. During the time I was auditioning, I went to see New York Spring Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. When the curtains opened to “Welcome to New York” and the Rockettes strutted downstage, I closed my eyes and cried. I saw Rockette Danelle Morgan, who is now a dance captain, onstage and thought: “There’s someone on the stage that looks like me.” It was at that moment that becoming a Rockette really felt tangible. I didn’t realize until then that I was actually holding myself back because I wasn’t sure if they were looking for someone that looked like me. But once I knew they were, I became even more determined.
I finally received THE phone call with the offer to be a Rockette after my tenth audition! Right after I heard the words “Radio City Rockette,” I started sobbing. I couldn’t believe that after all the work I put in, I had finally achieved my dream job! My first season was very rigorous. While I was familiar with the style, I hadn’t danced in a group setting in years. Dancing with these incredible women next to you while keeping track of precise details is very difficult, and the busy schedule made it all the more challenging. But that’s when I really felt the positivity and support of the Rockettes sisterhood. My dance captain that year was Danelle, the same wonderful woman that inspired me so much and has continued to do so during my time as a Rockette. If I ever need help or encouragement, these incredible women are there to support me. I become even more empowered by the ladies I get to dance next to everyday.
I’ve just finished my third season as a Radio City Rockette, and I love the job more than I thought was possible. What makes the Rockettes so special is that we all come together to create magic, and I look forward to continuing to spread joy to audiences from around the world. The Rockettes are an ever-evolving dance company and I’m thrilled to see what the future holds. I’m excited to dance on the Great Stage with not only more women that look like me, but more women that reflect all backgrounds, so everyone can see themselves represented in some way on the Radio City stage. Dreams do come true – for me, I just needed the courage to act on them!