Veronica Schoenster may be just 12 years old, but she’s already performed before an audience of thousands.
The Lake Anna youngster helped set the stage for the Rockettes at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall on Dec. 9, singing a medley of classic Christmas tunes with a group of 50 teenagers from around the country. There were 6,000 pairs of eyes looking up at Schoenster and her fellow performers.
“There were so many people, but we weren’t allowed to look at them because we had a musician pointing at us and cueing us,” she said. “I might have liked to, but the musician said, ‘If you stare at the audience when they’re staring at you, it makes you uncomfortable and then you might mess up.’”
Schoenster had auditioned for the role in October by mailing a video clip of herself singing a portion of the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
It was hardly the first time Schoenster had been on stage. She started attending Camp Curtain Call at the Louisa Arts Center when she was about 7 years old, and has been working on her skills as a dancer, actor and singer ever since. Her dream, she says, is to build a career as a “triple threat” using all three of those talents.
“I’m not that shy about being on stage, because I’ve done it for such a long time,” she said. “I’ve danced a lot, which helped me not be shy. So singing wasn’t that big a deal.”
Being part of a family with generations of stage experience helps, too. Schoenster’s grandmother was a professional dancer. Christina, Schoenster’s mother, teaches dance at The Courthouse School of Ballet in Spotsylvania County. And Schoenster’s sister, Carmen, 25, works with Heidi Latsky Dance in New York, a company that specializes in working with dancers who have disabilities.
Not surprisingly, Veronica’s mother and sister have both strongly influenced the younger dancer’s development as a performer.
“Sometimes if I’m out doing something [Carmen] will come over and say, ‘Hey, fix that!’” Veronica said.
Since Carmen lives and works in New York City, the family travels there often. Last summer, Veronica spent a week there as a student at Camp Broadway, an arts enrichment company. She and other campers learned dance and singing techniques from a woman who has performed in big shows on Broadway and on the daytime soap opera “Days of Our Lives.”
This is a partial article. Read the full story in The Central Virginian’s Dec. 20, 2018 issue.
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