Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

New Choreographer Infuses Rockettes with Extra Kick

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

New Choreographer Infuses Rockettes with Extra Kick

Article excerpt

Radio City Rockettes doing high kicks? That's a New York tradition. Rockettes blending high kicks with hip-hop and doing high kicks while lying down on the stage floor? These are among the many fresh twists and changes show-goers can expect at the Rockettes' summer show, "The New York Spectacular."

The show, which runs today through Aug. 7, tells the story of two children who get separated from their parents while visiting New York City. They're taken on a fantastic adventure with iconic city landmarks come to life, with the help of the Rockettes, and later reunited with their parents.

"The New York Spectacular" is a change of pace for veteran Rockette Christine Sienicki, a Clifton native. "This year, we get to do a lot more contemporary styles of dance that you don't typically see," said Sienicki, who has been dancing in the Radio City Christmas shows for 15 years. She attributes many of the differences to the show's new director and choreographer, Mia Michaels, of "So You Think You Can Dance" fame.

"As a dancer, it's great to be challenged" by Michaels' fresh vision and dance numbers that incorporate diverse styles, from tap to hip-hop, Sienicki said.

Michaels, an Emmy Award-winning choreographer who's also worked with Prince, Madonna, Celine Dion and on Broadway, choreographed the opening number for the Rockettes' show last spring and in the process discovered that she and the Rockettes were "a match made in heaven." She took over the full production of this year's show in January as director and choreographer.

Michaels admitted that though she and the Rockettes resemble "two worlds colliding that couldn't have been more different," she welcomed the challenge of blending her traditional dance background with how she is "now as an artist," known for her more edgy and modern pieces. The outcome, she said, "is fresh and exciting."

Still, the show is a balance between new styles and the tradition of the Rockettes. "It was just about keeping the respect of the brand and what the Rockettes have been for 85 years," Michaels said, "and exploring what that looks like in 2016."

Sienicki, whose favorite parts of the show include a tap number to "Singin' in the Rain" with real rain falling onstage and giant flowers serving as umbrellas and working with male ensemble dancers in a Wall Street-inspired piece called "Money," agreed. …

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