It all started when I was five. I had been taking tap and ballet classes for two years at that point, and my mom and grandma decided I was old enough to go see the Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular. I remember that night like it was yesterday - I walked into Radio City Music Hall and was totally astounded by the art deco elegance and sheer vastness of the theater. I was totally enthralled by the Rockettes in their sparkly costumes, kicking their legs so impossibly high. I strutted out of Radio City Music Hall in my Gap Kids red sweater with the matching ice skate patterned skirt, feeling like the most glamorous person in the world for having gone to such a fabulous show. I told my mom and grandma that I wanted to be a Rockette.
Since then, I’ve been hooked. Lucky for me, I’ve lived close to New York for my entire life, and I’ve seen more Broadway musicals, Christmas Spectaculars and Nutcracker performances than any semi-normal person should admit to: 42nd Street, Hairspray, Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, Wicked, Newsies, and, this past summer, Book of Mormon (it was incredible; just don't take your parents with you). And while I willingly conceded any dream of being a professional performer a long time ago due to lack of natural talent (and, for the Rockettes, lack of height), it all comes back to me every time I see a show in New York.
There's a reason everyone who dreams of making their stage debut goes to New York - the city breathes performing arts. There's something out there for whatever suits your taste: high-energy show tunes on Broadway, the allure of the New York City Ballet, the old-time glamour of the New York Philharmonic, or something more unique and innovative in the millions of other shows and performances going on every weekend. I can't go anywhere without seeing little ballerinas with their moms on the subway, advertisements for on and off-Broadway shows plastered all over the sides of buildings and bus stations, or tourists trying to get the perfect picture of Radio City Music Hall, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. These theaters may have been tourist traps all summer, but I still liked to walk by them whenever I could, for nostalgia's sake. These places are more then just theaters; they represent the dreams of thousands of young performers, like myself at age five, as well as thousands of real, professional performers, living in New York and working their butts off every day to be good enough to perform on those stages.
So whether you're Broadway's next big star, or, like me, you used to watch the New York City Ballet's performance of the Nutcracker on video when you were little, you know which city to visit if you're looking for a little bit of artistic inspiration.
Photos By Jillian Timko/Gavel Media