Meet a Rockette in the Making

20 year old Missouri State University student, Nadia Stine, is a dancing queen who spent last summer in New York City learning from the best in the business at The Rockettes training camp.

By Savannah Waszczuk

Nov 2017

Photo by Brandon Alms

417 Magazine: What is your earliest memory of dancing? 
Nadia Stine: When I was little, my mom and dad used to dance in our house. My mom was a dancer growing up. They would let me join in, and we’d all dance together. I grew up dancing at Ozark Dance Academy, and I also danced with the Springfield Ballet.

417: What’s your dream job? 
N.S.: I want to work for a dance company. I love The Rockettes—they’re a really, really prestigious company—but it’s really hard to get a job with them. I don’t expect to get a spot with them until maybe five or six years after auditioning. My goal is to find a dance company, maybe in St. Louis or Kansas City or Chicago, and work for them for a couple of years, and then work up. I’d really like to be a Rockette one day in New York.

417: How did you end up getting the opportunity to attend The Rockettes camp?  
N.S.: I always watched The Rockettes on TV growing up, and when they were in Branson. My mom wanted to be a Rockette before she started our family. She said, “Hey, maybe you should think about doing a summer dance program somewhere,” and I said, “Okay.” Then she said, “Why not The Rockettes? Why not just audition and see what happens?” So I auditioned. It was a very scary audition for me because I was really nervous, but then I got my email and they said that they accepted me. I was really excited. I worked really hard and got the money to go and live in New York for two weeks. I ended up staying at a place in Jersey, which I adored, and I would commute every day to The Rockettes. It was nine hours a day of just dancing, and really hardcore training. I found that I really, really, really, really enjoyed it.

417: What was the audition like? 
N.S.: Well there were a couple of audition places—Oklahoma, Chicago—but I ended up doing an online version of the audition. I think it was more terrifying. You don’t have other people with you to feed off your energy. I was really nervous. They said this year they had like 3,000 girls audition for the program, and they could only accept like 700. You submit some videos, and then you put together a portfolio, and then they ask you some questions. It’s hard because when you’re not in the room with your judges, you can’t really feel what they want or when it’s time to amp it up. It’s really hard because they can’t see your personality. So, that was a struggle, but I think they saw my technique and they liked it, so that was good. 

417: What was your favorite thing about camp? 
N.S.: That’s hard. I really enjoyed learning all of the new choreography because it’s so precise and so accurate. You have to really engage yourself, and you have to be really intelligent in order to actually carry it out. Looking at The Rockettes, you think, “Oh, that’s really great. They’re all together. That’s cool,” but when you’re actually in it day in and day out, you realize how hard it really is. My other favorite part was performing. I absolutely adored performing. We were at NYU’s Skirball Center, so it was this beautiful auditorium. All of our families were there. My mom came to see me perform, which was really cool. It was just really exciting for me to perform on that stage.

417: What is your involvement with dance today?
N.S.: I teach at a couple of different studios—Studio Vie and Ozark Dance Academy. I have learned that teaching is one of my passions. I also perform at MSU. I’m a part of the dance company that goes to schools and to community outreach programs and stuff, so I’m really heavily involved in that. And I’m choreographing a fall dance concert. I’m always in the studio working. I have a show that’s being produced in January in Kansas City, so I’ve also been working on that. 

417: Tell me a little more about this new show you are producing. 
N.S.: I write poetry, and I started with a long poem that I translated into movement. I got inspired, and I started choreographing it. When my friend saw my choreography, he said, “I really think you should dig deeper and find what this means.” We started working together and writing out what issues we see in the community and what we wanted to address—more of the script. Then the movement for the show came from all of that. It focuses on social issues. It’s called The Wall, and hopefully we’ll have a wall people can write on—they’ll write different social issues in their community. That’s the plan right now. It’s a social change piece.

417: Do you stick to a particular diet? 
N.S.: I have a lot of friends in dance that struggle with eating habits, because it’s such a hard world to live in. You’re always comparing yourself to a dancer you saw on social media or the friend next to you in class. I eat everything in balance, in moderation. If I feel like ice cream, I go for it, but I also balance it with other things. I would say, when you get to a certain level and you’re dancing all the time like I am, it’s important to put good things in your body, but also, it’s not my main focus. My focus is making sure that my body is strong, and making sure that it’s as pain free as possible.

417: Do you have any favorite motivational quotes that you turn to?
N.S.: I have one that I tell my students all the time. It’s “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” That’s by A.A. Milne, who wrote Winnie the Pooh. I tell my students that all the time because I think it’s really important in the world we live in—such a social media world—it’s so easy to compare yourself to other people. But when you say you are braver than you believe and you are smarter than you think you are, I think that is really encouraging. That’s one of my favorite things, especially in dance, just to say, “I’m brave. I’m strong. I’m smart. And I can do this.”

Nadia Stine, center, met The Rockettes while training with them in New York City last summer.