PALISADES AVE — Rebecca Hutman is used to being in the spotlight.
The 15-year-old Santa Monica resident has danced at Clippers games and school musicals, studio recitals and summer camps.
But next week will be a whole other story. Hutman, who lives by Goose Egg Park, will be watched by 2 million spectators and an estimated 65 million TV viewers as she performs in the finale of the 83rd Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Hutman appears excited, but ready, despite all the extra scrutiny.
“I don’t really think of it that way,” Hutman, who was selected as one of 60 performers from a pool of 400 singers and dancers, said. “Maybe when the day comes, [but] I don’t really get stage fright.”
Having danced for 13 years, it makes sense why Hutman isn’t afraid of turkey — er, chickening out. Starting out small with mommy-and-me dance classes, the sophomore at Harvard Westlake has progressed to everything from jazz and ballet on pointe to hip hop and contemporary techniques.
“[It] turned into something that I really love,” Hutman says of the progression, adding that contemporary dance is her favorite. “I think it’s the most expressive kind of dance and allows you to perform the most,” she said.
Hutman is all about exploring different ways of performing. For the past eight years, she has been a part of the Brentwood Academy of Dance, taking classes and competing on their team.
“[With competitions] you take the same group of dances through and see how you can improve them, see how you can grow,” Hutman said.
As a complement to dancing, Hutman has also been dabbling in the realm of theater. After an eighth grade production of “Guys and Dolls” introduced her to musicals, Hutman stumbled upon Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Training Center in New York.
“It’s a very, very welcoming place,” Hutman said of Stagedoor, adding that the people really make the experience. “It’s so nice being able to meet people form all over the East Coast. People are so distinctly different, and everyone is so supportive of one another.”
Now having spent two years attending a few of the center’s rigorous three-week summer programs, Hutman has gained a lot of experience as a part of a cast, instead of a team. By the end of one session, Stagedoor participants have produced an average of 13 fully-staged productions, with auditions held on the very first day. Hutman says she loves the feeling of satisfaction and payoff by the end of any production.
“It helped me grow so much as a person,” Hutman said. “You can really accomplish something awesome with your peers if you work very hard.”
Working hard has given Hutman a lot of time to bond with her fellow performers and create cross-country friendships. As the parade’s performance troupe was selected entirely from a pool of Stagedoor students, she can’t wait to reconnect with everyone.
“I’m so beyond excited for the parade, [but] being able to see all of my friends … that’s what I’m most excited for,” Hutman said.
Hutman will be traveling to New York with her mom, while dad will be cheering her on from home. Hutman has been especially grateful to her parents for being so supportive of her passion.
“They like that I’m doing what I love,” Hutman said.
It’s also thanks to them that Hutman is able to maintain her busy schedule. She dances nearly every day, attending practices at the academy while juggling her school work as well. Luckily, many of Hutman’s West Coast friends also dance, so she sees them on a regular basis.
“We’re all pretty busy in general,” Hutman said of her friends from both school and dance. “It is hard to balance, [but] I’m the type of person who would take a hectic schedule over not having anything to do. I love being busy and being occupied. I find them gratifying.”
As for the future, Hutman wants to minor in dance in college, but is unsure about her major. She’s considered everything from medicine to law to something “literary” as a future career, but hasn’t decided on one thing yet.
“[I have] all these loves. Hopefully they’ll manifest themselves into a job that will make me happy,” Hutman said.
Until then, she’ll dance, and getting to do that at the Macy’s Day Parade will make this Thanksgiving just a little bit tastier.