Ailey Students Dance in Christmas Spectacular



Ailey/Fordham students and alumni (left to right) Marquise Hitchcock, FCLC ’18, Maya Addie, FCLC ’21, Isabel Wallace-Green, FCLC ’19, and Nicholas Begun, FCLC ’21, will all perform in this year’s show.


Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular has been a staple of New York City’s holiday scene since it opened in 1933. Then only 30 minutes, the show has evolved into a 90-minute Christmas celebration featuring singers, dancers, musicians, figure skaters and, of course, the Rockettes. 

Hundreds travel from all over the world each year to audition as dancers for the Christmas Spectacular, but with a cast of around 150 people and a reputation for perfection, only the best make it. 

Maya Addie, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’21, is a junior in the Ailey-Fordham B.F.A. program who was chosen out of more than 400 women to be an ensemble dancer for the Christmas Spectacular. 

Working full-time and pursuing an undergraduate degree might seem impossible, but for those pursuing a B.F.A. in dance through Fordham College at Lincoln Center, the program offers a unique opportunity that allows juniors and seniors to pursue full-time dance careers while graduating on time. Dancers choosing to take advantage of this have their professional work count towards their degree, having fulfilled their other academic requirements with careful planning. Addie is taking full advantage of this opportunity by being a part of the Christmas Spectacular, and she worked very hard to get the job. 

After making it through two large cuts of dancers during the audition this past April, Addie was called back the next day to dance with about 25 other women. The director and ensemble dance captains taught combinations that involved theatrical dance and jazz,  including a section where dancers had to sing while dancing — something Addie herself did not prepare for specifically. She was asked a week after the audition to attend the Radio City Rockettes Summer Intensive, and on the second-to-last day of the program, she got the call offering her the job as an ensemble dancer for this season’s production. 

Rehearsals have been in full swing since Oct. 7, with a typical day lasting from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Tech rehearsals began in Radio City Music Hall the week of Oct. 28, giving the dancers a schedule more like that of the performances themselves. The ensemble members do less dancing than they did when they were learning the choreography, but they are expected to be able to transition from sitting in the house and watching another cast run the entire show to dancing it themselves. 

Being a part of the “gold” cast — the cast that performs the evening shows — means that Addie is expected to perform the 90-minute show multiple times a day. 

While Addie said that “the whole process has been more exciting than anything,” the show is physically and mentally demanding, especially when she and her cast are expected to dance their best in all of the shows that they perform. To make sure she is prepared for the upcoming show, Addie typically goes to the athletic training room in the theater to do a warm up with the machines, roll out, stretch and heat up her muscles. Then, she heads back to her dressing room where she listens to music, does her stage makeup and gets ready with the other dancers. 

Addie’s role as a dancer in the show spans every scenario you can think of: From dancing as a panda bear in the “Nutcracker” scene to a “downtown girl” in a scene entitled “New York at Christmas,” she does it all. With so many quick changes during the show, the production employs backstage dressers to help dancers change costumes in as little as 78 seconds. 

When asked what it meant to be a part of such a long-standing tradition, Addie explained how meaningful the production was to her. “It’s so exciting to be a part of this tradition that people can share with their families and friends, and to just spread Christmas joy. It really makes me emotional sometimes: It is just so crazy to be a part of such an amazing production.”

In addition to Addie, Nicholas Begun, FCLC ’21, will be performing in the Spectacular, along with Ailey-Fordham alumnae Isabel Wallace-Green, FCLC ’19 and Marquise Hitchcock, FCLC ’18.

The show began performances on Nov. 8 and will run through Jan. 5, so there is plenty of time to get a ticket to celebrate the holiday season and support Fordham students. The Campus Activities Board will also host an outing to see the show on Sunday, Nov. 17 at 3:15 p.m., and undergraduates can sign up in the 140 West Building, Room G33, to enter the lottery for tickets.