Sunday, January 16, 2011

Adventures as a Tourist in the City That Never Sleeps

"These streets will make you feel brand new, big lights will inspire you. Let's hear it for New York". This is a verse from the song 'Empire State of Mind' and it is so true. That is exactly how I felt the moment I walked up the stairs and stepped out of Penn Station to see a wide open view of busy streets and towering buildings up above. It's like you are suddenly so tiny compared to everything around you, and the city is like a playground with endless possibilities.

I've been to New York City once before when I was a junior in high school, but I've already gone two more times since I've been on my winter break this year. I made the second trip the week before Christmas with my boyfriend, and I am so happy that we got the chance to do it. First of all, the timing was wonderful. Granted, that time of year means NYC is extremely crowded, but I didn't care one bit because the atmosphere was just magical and it really put me in the Christmas spirit. The main mission for this trip was to go sight-seeing, which I didn't get a chance to do the first time. We saw the one and only Empire State Building. I didn't know one building could be so high! Then, we went to The Rockafeller Plaza and actually got to ice skate on the famous rink.

This was, by far, my favorite part of the trip. We waited in line for a while and the ice was the most choppy I've ever skated on, but simply being in the middle of that plaza was like a dream. I had seen it on t.v. many times before, but I couldn't believe I was really there! We saw the inside of the New York City Library with its magnificent architecture and intricate designs on every surface. It was absolutely amazing. Then there was the theatre-lined streets of Broadway where I spotted the Capezio store. I was in heaven. There were enough leotards, skirts, and leg warmers to last me a lifetime! There was also an area to try on dance shoes that had a ballet barre along a window that was overlooking the bustling sidewalks. Standing at that barre made me feel like I was in a scene straight out of a popular dance movie. Of course, Times Square is beautiful. I've never seen so many lights and screens in one place. I even got a chance to try some of Famous Ray's Pizza. What they say is true, the pizza slices are huge; percisely the size of my head. Overall, the day was picture perfect. I felt like a little kid again, full of curiousity and wonder. You could definitely tell I was a tourist because I looked up more than I looked in front of me :)

The most recent trip was the day before New Years and I went with my mom to attend a workshop at the Radio City Music Hall with the Rockettes. I would not recommend going to New York the day before New Years, it was even more crowded than before, which I didn't know was possible. We got to go on a tour of the music hall and I learned so many things about the building and its history. Something I found really interesting was all the different ways the stage could move. There are multiple platforms that can be raised and lowered, there are turn tables that rotate in a full circle, and all of these were created back in 1932 when the building was first built. Pretty impressive, huh? There are dozens of different lines and little numbers all over the stage for the Rockettes to stand on because if one of them is out of place when the stage is supposed to be moving, that could cause some serious problems. I didn't know how complicated it really was! We got to see the auditorium and I don't even know how to describe it other than, it made my stomach flip. We were all the way up in the top balcony and this theatre is as big as a whole city block. Take a look:

The class was taught by a woman who has been a Rockette for eleven years! She was a great teacher and an amazing dancer. I loved hearing about her story of how she got to where she is now and what her life is like as a Rockette. They have to re-audition every year and it is a difficult process since hundreds of girls come to the New York City audition in September. They rehearse during the remaining weeks in September and October and their season starts at the end of November. The dancers have six shows a day and only one day off a week. I imagine that takes a whole lot of stamina!

In the master class, we learned some of the choreography from the actual show. There was a tap routine called, "12 Days of Christmas", then a jazz routine, and we did a kick line too. Fun fact: the Rockettes do an average of 300 kicks PER SHOW. Once again, stamina. Anyways, the routines were a lot of fun and we got to perform them in groups in front of some of the Rockettes as if we were at a real audition. I thought that was a great experience because I would like to try out in the future. Something I was so amazed by was that during one of our water breaks, the musician that was there went up to this big speaker on the wall, turned it on, and music from the live performance started playing in the studio. I didn't even know they were performing at that moment! We were in the very same building as the Rockettes who were performing for a live audience while we learned the routines that they were doing. Our teacher started dancing along with the music too.

To sum it all up, I am in love with New York City. If you haven't been there before, I highly recommend it. That first time looking up as you enter the city is literally breathtaking and you will never see anything else like it. Brody made a good point when we took that trip in December. He said that when you think of where everything happens in America, a lot of the main events take place in NYC. Fashion trends, television, movies, musicals, dancing, celebrities, everything! New York City is the place where all the action is, and that's where we were. At that moment, I couldn't think of a better place to be.

Here is a link to my Picasa online album and it includes all of the pictures from both of my recent adventures!

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