Hannah Welsh spent most of her childhood in Richmond Hill, so much so she considers it her hometown.
It’s where, as a 3-year-old, Welsh first discovered her love of dance, and it’s where she started developing her skill in studios such as Dancing Unlimited and Kelly and Company Dance Studio. These days, however, Welsh, 18, is on a bigger stage, performing as one of 18 brand new members of the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes.
And yes, it’s the realization of a childhood dream.
“I always wanted to be a Rockette, even as a little girl,” said Welsh, who left Richmond Hill after her ninth grade year at St. Vincent’s Academy when her mother was relocated for a job. “I remember coming to New York city and seeing the show with my mother and grandmother, and it being such a great experience. It’s that kind of immersive, magic holiday experience you can only get being in Radio City. I knew then I wanted to do this.”
That meant years of hard work and then auditioning, and doing well enough to be invited to the Rockettes Conservatory Program, which is described in broadwayworld.com as “A three-week long, invitation-only opportunity designed to immerse 20 select professional and pre-professional dancers in intensive training in the foundations of The Rockettes precision technique (tap, jazz and ballet), strength training, and the choreography of The Rockettes repertoire.”
Welsh credits that opportunity with leading to her becoming a Rockette, and one of only 84 since the precision dance company was founded in 1925 and began performing in 1933. The Rockettes have been seen by some 69 million people and are almost synonymous with the Christmas holiday, performing at events such as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
They’ve also been role models for Welsh.
“It’s an iconic group of women who are strong, powerful and independent,” she said “”It’s also rewarding because it brings me so much joy to spread so much joy.”
And with that, Welsh has an invitation to extend to the city she still calls home. The Rockettes will perform at Radio City Music Hall from Nov. 18 to Jan. 2 this holiday season and one of them knows where Richmond Hill is.
“I hope everybody comes to see it,” she said. “Radio City is the only place in the world where you can experience the magic of a Christmas spectacular like this. It’s truly not like any other show.”
Find out more at Rockettes.com.
Five questions with Hanna Welsh
1. What’s your favorite food? Mexican. And Italian.
2. Favorite book? To Kill A Mockingbird.
3. Favorite Movie? The new Hallmark Movie “A Holiday Spectacular” with the Rockettes. It premieres Nov. 27. “It really hits close to home (for Welsh),” she said.
4. Favorite sport: Football. Favorite team: Notre Dame. “I have family who graduated from there.”
5. Favorite performer: Mariah Carey.