Musical theater star Rachelle Rak has been kicking her heels high on and off Broadway for more than 25 years, and now, she is taking her experience to the next level as judge of the reality television series, "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition." NY1's Frank DiLella filed the following report.
When it comes to dance, Rachelle Rak has a long check list in terms of perfecting a performance.
And she should have a long list.
Rak has been performing professionally on and off Broadway since the age of 17.
She began her career performing in the national tour of "Cats" in the late 1980s and has since gone on to sing and dance in more than half a dozen Broadway shows.
The Pittsburgh native is now taking her talent and experience to a new level, by playing judge on season two of "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition."
Rak joins "Dance Mom" personality Abby Lee Miller and choreographer Richie Jackson on the panel, and all three are responsible for giving one young performer a chance of a lifetime.
"$100,000 to the winner and a scholarship to the Joffrey School of Ballet," Rak says.
On the day NY1 caught up with Rak, she was teaching dance class at The Broadway Workshop, a program dedicated to connecting young performers with Broadway professionals.
Rak says the most rewarding experience of her professional career to date was getting the chance to work with Ann Reinking and Gwen Verdon on the Broadway production of "Fosse," a revue that centered around the work of legendary director and choreographer Bob Fosse.
"For me, you know Bob Fosse means everything. It's the show and the year that changed my dancing completely," Rak says.
Like Fosse, Rak has created a dance language of her own, which is one of a few things she credits to her success.
Q: Rachelle, you've coined a few phrases that you want your dancers to apply to their work. Can you tell our folks at home some of those phrases?
"First, I want you to 'sass it up,'" Rak says. "I want you to bring everything you have to the room. Bring your sass, take the stage and own it. Then, I would like you to do the big finish of a number, and you 'bite the apple.' And I always say this, 'If you're having a bad day, you had a bad audition, you missed a turn, honey you have to drop, swing, and come up with a new idea, and be ready to go.'"