The historic, high-kicking Radio City Rockettes are returning to Iowa next week for shows in two cities. Teresa Burks is one of the dancers on this year’s Christmas Spectacular National Tour.
Burks, a Minnesota native who lives in Wisconsin, says she started dance lessons when she was six years old, hoping to someday be with the famed Rockettes. Burks got her first shot to try out for the dance troupe when she was in Atlantic City, New Jersey, dancing in another show.
Burks would take the bus to New York to audition three days a week, two hours each way. “The audition process is grueling,” she says. “It’s a cattle call. There’s 500 ladies there with you. They really want to see you be proficient in tap, jazz and ballet. You have to be at least 5’6″ up to 5’10 1/2″. You have to be at least 18 years old. It’s quite an intense process.”
Her patience paid off and she’s now been with the traveling seasonal show for ten years. Burks says she was in Des Moines performing with the Rockettes in 2008 and says this latest show will be fresh for Iowans.
“This is a new production that was created for the 75th anniversary that was performed on the Great Stage a few years ago in New York City,” Burks says. “We’re bringing it to you in the Midwest because we know that not everybody can come to New York City to see the show.”
She calls the Rockettes a slice of American history, as the group’s first performance was in 1933.
“We’re all professionals,” Burks says. “Some people are mothers. Some people are doctors and dentists in their off-season. We come from a diverse background from all over the country. It’s just a very wholesome, entertaining show. I feel like this is my time of year to really be a role model for younger girls who want to someday do this as well.”
The Rockettes perform at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Tuesday and Wednesday, and at the U-S Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids on Thursday.
For more information, visit: www.radiocitychristmas.com.