sara moncure

Moncure knew she wanted to be a professional dancer at eight years old.

At the age of eight, Sara Moncure knew her dream was to become a professional dancer and perform alongside the Rockettes. After her dance studio received a backstage tour of Radio City Music Hall, the home of the Rockettes, Moncure fell in love with the props, stage and company as a whole.

Moncure, a junior media arts and design major, saw a glimpse of her dream when she participated in the Rockettes Summer Intensive over the summer in New York City. The week-long intensive included seminars, choreography, and exclusive question and answer sessions for the participants. This wasn’t the first encounter Moncure has had with the company — she participated in their mini intensive last summer.

When Moncure was in high school, she stumbled upon an ad in Dance Spirit Magazinefor RSI. She tore the ad out and pinned it in her room, deciding almost two years later she was serious about auditioning.

“It was one of the best times I’ve had in my life — kind of being on cloud nine and being where these women that I’ve idolized since age eight rehearse and perform … I was completely hooked, and I told my mom I was going back to audition,” Moncure said.

When she auditioned a second time for the full intensive, she was upset to find out she was put on the waitlist. All the sadness and nerves were set aside when she received an email in April saying she was offered a spot.

“It was a milestone within itself, because when you’ve had this childhood dream and you finally see the little glimmers of hope come in your direction, you want to latch onto every second and enjoy the ride,” Moncure said.

The intensive was filled with long hours of learning choreography, questions and answers with instructors and a special performance at NYU for friends and family to conclude the week. Moncure said her favorite part was the showcase, since it made her excited to audition for the company later this year. While rehearsing for the showcase, Moncure said her closest friendships were formed.

Moncure wasn’t the only Duke there during the intensive. The program allowed her to connect with two incoming freshmen who happened to be there the same week she was. Cathleen Turner, a theatre major and Emily Zach, a dance major, met Moncure by pure luck.

“It was kind of funny that it happened,” Zach said. “I had a JMU lanyard tied around my backpack and when Sara saw it, we started talking about that and got to know each other.”

Turner, on the other hand, met Moncure after overhearing her conversation about JMU. Moncure was surprised there were multiple people at the event who knew about the university.

“We were sitting in the dressing room together and we were all making small talk,” Turner said. “It was kind of awkward. We didn’t really know what to talk about, but I heard someone in the corner talking about JMU and I was just like, ‘Wait, who goes to JMU?’”

Turner said this sparked the beginning of a close bond between the pair and the two were placed in the same line together for the showcase. Each line worked together the whole week, which came as a surprise to Turner. She said she took for granted how effortless the Rockettes make their routines seem.

“It’s so much harder than it looks,” Turner said. “It really humbles you to do it yourself. Everyone has a moment in the week when you want to break down and cry, but it’s so worth it in the end to show yourself that you really can do it.”

After spending two summers with the company, she plans on attending an open call audition for the next spring. She said participating in the intensives has given her an opportunity to catch a glimpse of what the auditions will be modeled after.

“Your dreams aren’t as far away as you think they are. I always thought that by a certain age it would be out of reach. A lot of people say that having a career in dance is a fantasy, but I don’t agree with that,” Moncure said. “I feel like if you push yourself enough to make it happen, then it will come true — that’s what comes with hard work, training and keeping focused on your process and not worrying about other people’s doubts.”

Contact Andrea Brusig at brusigap@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.

Andrea Brusig is a writer for the Culture section of The Breeze and a reporter for Breeze TV. She's a junior media arts & design major with a concentration in journalism and a minor in communication studies.