(UPDATED AT 11 A.M. THURSDAY WITH CORRECT PERFORMANCES END DATE AND PHOTOS)
Margaret McPherson grew up a fan of the Rockettes but her life changed two years after graduating from Marist in 1999 when she saw them perform.
“I saw the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in 2001 at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta and I was blown away,” McPherson said in an email. “At the time, I was dancing with the Atlanta Ballet. I knew I wanted to gain some additional dance skills so I could audition for the famous troupe. Rockettes have to be proficient in jazz, tap and ballet. I went to New York City, took a ton of tap classes and finally made it through the audition process. I was thrilled when I received the phone call from Radio City!”
Now in her ninth season with the Rockettes, McPherson is part of a group of 18 dancers finishing its 16-day run of performances at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre near Vinings. The last show is Saturday.
"I love this job and it is so much fun to perform in my hometown of Atlanta,” said McPherson, an Avondale Estates native now living in nearby Oakhurst/Kirkwood. “Over the years, I have been able to perform at Radio City Music Hall in New York, [the] Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and now I am happy to perform at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta.”
McPherson, who attended Georgia State University part-time while dancing with the Atlanta Ballet, moved to New York when she was 22 to pursue a dancing career.
"I was extremely fortunate to tour with ‘West Side Story’ for a year in Europe, and then after that contract I booked the Rockettes,” she said.
After getting married, she and her husband Ryan moved back to Atlanta, where McPherson now teaches part-time and is taking classes to complete her bachelor’s degree in accounting at Georgia State.
"It has been a wonderful experience performing for Atlanta audiences. In the off-season from Rockettes, I teach at a lot of local schools and it is fun for my students to come see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular,” she said. “Almost every show I have friends and family in the audience. I am grateful to be a part of such a beautiful and joyful production. Also, Atlanta audiences are lively and have been supportive since we opened last week. I might be slightly biased, but I think they are the best.”
McPherson said there are three things she enjoys most about performing with the Rockettes: “the high level of professional requirements, the people and performing.”
"I love the high level of athleticism required to perform as a Rockette,” she said. “The contract requires you to be in the best shape possible and have amazing dance skills. The actual job is very challenging, and since I am very passionate about dancing, it is enjoyable to be pushed to perform at such a high level. Over the years, I have made so many wonderful friends from my Rockette contracts. I look forward to seeing all of my old friends year after year, and meeting new Rockettes as well. Lastly, I love to perform. With the intense show schedule, I have multiple opportunities to perform.”
“We have new choreography, gorgeous costumes, and a 50-foot LED screen that enhances all of the scenes as our backdrop,” she said. “My favorite number is called ‘New York at Christmas’ and it closes the first act. All of the Rockettes come out and board a double-decker tour bus. With the LED screen in the background and the bus rotating around stage, it looks like we are traveling through the streets of Manhattan. Of course the bus stops in Time Square and all of the Rockettes get out and dance a precision dance routine. The number finishes with our famous eye-high kicks. I love being a part of such a joyful show. It is great for the whole family and wonderful way to kick start the holiday season.”
- Staff Writer Sally Litchfield contributed to this report.
If you go:
o What: The Rockettes’ Radio City Christmas Spectacular
o When: Today through Saturday
o Where: Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Pkwy., near Vinings
o Information and tickets: (800) 745-3000, www.RadioCityChristmas.com, www.Ticketmaster.com