New choreography and new blisters in New York

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By Jenna Langhans

As a recent graduate from Union College, I spent the last four years of my life enjoying the beautiful campus life that Union had to offer: the fresh air, the flowered trees, the luxury of leaving my dorm five minutes before class started and still making it there on time and the convenience of Reamer Campus Center, where I could swipe my Union ID (which was full of what seemed to be monopoly money). I loved the close-knit atmosphere and have always been intimidated by New York City, finding it dirty, crowded and confusing. I was convinced that I was not a city girl until this summer, when I attended the Rockette Summer Intensive, having received the Edward Villella scholarship. Through this program, I met great friends, learned from the talented Rockettes and got to see what it was like to live in NYC as a dancer.

I have always been passionate about dance, and knew I wanted to continue dancing at Union when I entered as a freshman. Union’s dance program provided me with so many opportunities to dance and perform as an undergraduate, allowing me to explore dance the way I wanted. As a senior, I started to think about what I wanted to do after college and thought that it was time to really look into dance as a possibility for post-grad life. I applied for the Edward Villella Dance Scholarship in the hopes of stretching my dancing career past college, or at least into the summer. I applied to attend a week at Radio City Music Hall to learn Rockette choreography, which I ultimately did from July 28 to Aug. 2.

We rehearsed in the actual space used by the Rockettes use during their preparation time for the show, located in the basement of a huge church near Columbus Circle. It was truly incredible to see first hand how much work, dedication and intelligence goes in to being a Rockette. We learned three dances from their Christmas Spectacular: ‘Happy Feet’ (tap), ‘Irving Berlin’ (jazz) and ‘Parade of the Wooden Toy Soldiers.’ For each dance, there are dozens of numbers, lines and marks to hit in order to not take out your fellow dancer, not to mention the ultra-precise choreography and eye-high kicks in which you are not allowed to touch the backs of the girls next to you. During this week, we learned three numbers; real Rockettes learn three numbers each week leading up to their Christmas show. They perform about 300 of their famous eye-high kicks per show with up to four shows a day. By the second day, I was wrapping my blisters with medical tape and icing my feet. My legs were sore from all the kicks and my brain was full of complex choreography, but the entire experience was awesome.

I had the privilege of learning from three Rockettes, all of whom were gorgeous, encouraging and talented. I met so many great dancers during the week and even decided to try out for the Rockettes in August. By the end of the week, I had a newfound love for NYC, an appreciation for the dancers who work their bodies like this every day, and a lot of gratitude for the Union Dance department and directors for providing me with advice, experience and the opportunity to pursue this intensive. At the end of the week, we performed for our parents and friends at the NYU Skirball Theatre, which consisted of the three aforementioned dances as well as a kick line combination for the finale.

Performing is exhilarating and one of the reasons why I love to dance. It is nerve-racking, but I think that while every dancer dances out of love for the art and expression of it, they also want to share their passion with an audience.

I only got to dance in the Henle Dance Pavilion a few times before I graduated, but the fact that incoming dancers at Union have the opportunity to learn and dance in this amazing new space is incredible. Union has brought its Dance program to a new level, and this new studio space, combined with dedicated professors, will open up even more opportunities for dancers entering Union.

 

As a recent graduate from Union, I spent the last four years of my life enjoying the beautiful campus life that the college had to offer: the fresh air, the flowered trees, the luxury of leaving my dorm five minutes before class started and still making it there on time and the convenience of Reamer Campus Center, where I could swipe my Union ID (which was full of what seemed to be monopoly money). I loved the close-knit atmosphere and have always been intimidated by New York City, finding it dirty, crowded and confusing.

I was convinced that I was not a city girl until this summer, when I attended the Rockette Summer Intensive, having received the Edward Villella scholarship. Through this program, I made great friends, learned from the talented Rockettes and got to see what it was like to live in NYC as a dancer.

I have always been passionate about dance, and knew I wanted to continue dancing at Union when I entered as a freshman. Union’s dance program provided me with so many opportunities to dance and perform as an undergraduate, allowing me to explore dance the way I wanted. As a senior, I started to think about what I wanted to do after college and thought that it was time to really look into dance as a possibility for post-grad life.

I applied for the Edward Villella Dance Scholarship in the hopes of stretching my dancing career past college, or at least into the summer. I applied to attend a week at Radio City Music Hall to learn Rockette choreography, which I ultimately did from July 28 to Aug. 2.

We rehearsed in the actual space used by the Rockettes during their preparation time for the show, located in the basement of a huge church near Columbus Circle. It was truly incredible to see first hand how much work, dedication and intelligence goes into being a Rockette.

We learned three dances from their Christmas Spectacular: “Happy Feet” (tap), “Irving Berlin” (jazz) and “Parade of the Wooden Toy Soldiers.”

For each dance, there are dozens of numbers, lines and marks to hit in order to not take out your fellow dancer, not to mention the ultra-precise choreography and eye-high kicks in which you are not allowed to touch the backs of the girls next to you.

During this week, we learned three numbers; real Rockettes learn three numbers each week leading up to their Christmas show. They perform about 300 of their famous eye-high kicks per show with up to four shows each day.

By the second day, I was wrapping my blisters with medical tape and icing my feet. My legs were sore from all the kicks and my brain was full of complex choreography, but the entire experience was awesome.

I had the privilege of learning from three Rockettes, all of whom were gorgeous, encouraging and talented. I met so many great dancers during the week and even decided to try out for the Rockettes in August.

By the end of the week, I had a newfound love for NYC, an appreciation for the dancers who work their bodies like this every day and a lot of gratitude for the Union dance department and directors for providing me with advice, experience and the opportunity to pursue this intensive experience.

At the end of the program, we performed for our parents and friends at the NYU Skirball Theatre, demonstrating what we had learned through the three aforementioned dances as well as a kick line combination for the finale.

Performing is exhilarating and one of the main reasons I love to dance. It is nerve-wracking, but I think that while all dancers dance out of love for the art and expression of it, they also want to share their passion with an audience.

I only got to dance in the Henle Dance Pavilion a few times before I graduated, but the fact that incoming dancers at Union have the opportunity to learn and dance in this amazing new space is incredible.

Union has brought its dance program to a new level, and this new studio space, combined with dedicated professors, will open up even more opportunities for dancers entering Union in the future.

 

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