In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Radio City Rockette Valeria Yamin shares her personal experience from growing up in south Florida to dancing on the Great Stage at Radio City Music Hall. Hear more about her journey below as she begins her second year as a Rockette!
For as long as I can remember, dance, music and performance have always been a part of my life. I was born in Caracas, Venezuela and raised in a culturally Hispanic household in South Florida. I grew up speaking Spanish, eating arepas and dancing to music by Ricardo Montaner, Shakira and Jennifer Lopez. I knew from a young age that I had a passion for performance, as I was always putting on a show for my friends and family. My mom enrolled me in dance classes at the age of two and a half, and when I was ten years old, I started participating in dance competitions with my studio, Performance Edge, which was led by a mentor of mine Jennifer Delgado. Once I graduated high school, I decided to pursue dance further, so I moved to New York City in 2018. I was supported tremendously by my family and friends in my fearless pursuit of becoming a professional dancer. This past May, I graduated with my BFA in Commercial Dance from the Honors College at Pace University, directed by Rhonda Miller.
I was inspired by many performers, but I have always been drawn to the Radio City Rockettes. These icons of New York City are symbols of grace, power and beauty. Growing up, I would watch them every year on TV during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I remember watching them one year and breaking down in tears because I could clearly envision myself as part of that line someday. I have always been inspired by their resilience as one united force of women but also seeing their individuality within the precision dancing. I was 19 years old, a freshman in college, when I first attended the Christmas Spectacular in person. Seeing the dancers’ strength and artistry was empowering as a young woman. I wanted to one day be on that stage and share the same fire they started within me.
I began chasing my dream of becoming a Rockette when I was young, but it wasn’t until I participated in Rockettes Conservatory that I truly felt ready to audition. I was offered the opportunity to participate in their invite-only conservatory which was provided at no cost to all invited dancers. It was at conservatory that I was able to train in the unique Rockette style of precision dance. I built upon my foundations of ballet, tap and jazz and learned the Rockette repertoire, details of the technique, and received personal feedback from the director and choreographer of the Christmas Spectacular, Julie Branam. This program was an educational experience that helped me gain the knowledge and practice I needed for the auditions. After attending, I felt prepared to take on my audition in August of last year. I was at my home dance studio with my dance teacher of over 15 years when I got the call with the job offer and I couldn’t believe it… I was now a Radio City Rockette!
My first season was an absolute dream. Jumping into something new is not always easy, but I felt supported by my fellow talented rookies, wise veterans, and our fearless dance captains. Balancing my senior year of college and my first professional job was also a challenge, but my mentors, Lauren Gaul and Holly Evans, who are former Rockettes, helped me feel grounded and at peace. I learned a lot about hard work, perseverance, and teamwork. During rehearsals, Julie would remind us that we are “better together” which was a concept that is so simple but spoke volumes about the work we do day in and day out. The moment I stepped on to the stage at Radio City Music Hall for my first performance everything came full circle. I had the honor of making my professional debut and performing my heart out with the Radio City Rockettes in the Christmas Spectacular. This past holiday season, I had the opportunity to look out into the audience every night to return what was once ignited in me… because, with a wink or a smile during my performance, l could look into the bright eyes of the young visionaries and dreamers sitting in the seats in front of me and tell them that their dreams can come true too with passion, determination, and persistence. I am elated to be back on the line this year for my second season celebrating the spirit of Christmas and my love of live theatre!