LOCAL Houston | The City Guide March 2017 - Page 59

FOOD | ARTS | COMMUNITY | STYLE+LEISURE THE ENTERTAINER IT’S ALWAYS SHOWTIME WITH NATALIE ALVARADO By Tim Moloney | Photography by Carl Fehres Though she may be small in stature, everything about Houston Rockets Entertainment Director NATALIE ALVARADO is REALLY BIG: big personality, big energy, big voice and big ideas. She’s also a big talent. She’d have to be, as she plans and executes every entertainment aspect of every Rockets game at the Toyota Center, including the music selection, choreography and staging for each “act” – the Rockets Launch Crew, Little Dippers, Space City Seniors, the Rockets dunk team Anti-Gravity, the Rockets drumline Sonic Boom and Clutch the Bear (who is played by two different people, she reveals). “As I make the music mixes and edits, I start to see ‘movement’ in my head, and the music moves me. I like to tell a story, so when people come to a game, I like to start soft, hit them really hard in the middle and end on a big bang!” In addition, she’s also the coach and choreographer for the Rockets Power Dancers, a group she herself danced with for seven years. “They are my queens,” she says, “so I also have rehearsals with them during the week in addition to everything else. It’s more than a full-time job, but I couldn’t be a luckier girl.” A Clear Lake native, Alvarado got into dance at age 12 because “my mother made me,” she says. “I was a tomboy; my sister and I were the only girls on the baseball team. I even wanted to play basketball, but my mom decided to put me in “little league” drill team and I absolutely hated it. She said I cried; I didn’t want to go to practice. It was hard! Dancers are athletes. But we went to a competition and we won first place. I felt like what it was like to succeed as a performer and as a dancer, and I fell in love with it.” And speaking of her big voice, Alvarado is also a charted recording artist, having toured the nation as a singer/songwriter with Universal Records. Her self-titled debut album, “Natalie,” premiered at No. 16 on the Billboard Top-200 Charts, and her lead single, “Goin’ Crazy,” was a gold-selling #1 hit. “Singing is still an interest of mine. I still write songs, but I haven’t performed in public in a while, except for karaoke. I’m really good at that!” No big surprise. march 17 | LOCAL 59