Danielle Arthur is only 13, but she's dancing on stage with the Rockettes in the touring Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
The eighth-grader at St. Gregory the Great School in Amherst won the part of Clara in an audition at the Buffalo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts and not only performed with the show at Shea's Performing Arts Center in Buffalo, but will also dance with the show in Boston through New Year's Eve.
"I'm only on stage for a short time, but I get to dance in the Nutcracker scene with the dancing teddy bears, then I'm also in the Nativity scene at the end of the show," Danielle said in a phone interview.
For her role as Clara, "I wear a big silver tutu and it's all sequins and stuff and I have a crown." She wears her own toe shoes. "It's really a simple ballet steps, but it's a little bit harder because it's en pointe," she said. She has a small part in the Nativity scene as well. "I'm just in one of the king's courts but I carry one of the king's capes," she said.
There's a surprise element in Danielle's first appearance on stage that audiences "seemed to really like, especially children," said Shea's spokesman Lisa Grisanti. Danielle shared the role at Shea's with Brittany Touris of Rochester so one dancer wouldn't normally have to do more than one show a day.
"It's really exciting" performing with the Rockettes, Danielle says. "I wasn't really nervous because I'm used to it because I do a lot of dance recitals and stuff." Plus, in the dancing bear scene, "it's really fun because everyone has a fake head on so the only face you see is mine."
The dancers were all "really nice to me," she said, adding that "it's really hectic (back stage) so I don't get to talk to them a lot."
Danielle started dance at age 3. "I started with tap and ballet, then when I got older I started to do jazz," she said. She normally spends about 15 hours a week in dance class, split between the David De Marie dance studio and the American Academy of Ballet. "I study all the different kinds, but my favorite is ballet," she said.
Danielle has missed quite a bit of school for the Rockettes show but keeps up with classes by getting tutored in the dressing room.
She and her family will spend Christmas in Boston. "My dad is coming to Boston for the first few weeks and my mom and my brother, David, will be there for Christmas," she said.
Is it hard to dance en pointe? "I started when I was 11 years old,"she said. "My feet were sore for a while, but now I'm used to it because I've been doing it for a while."