Wednesday, April 28, 2010

rox n roll.

In honor of the Rockette Auditions going on in NYC this own. Working on building more dance stories into my book, it's weird how I have such an easy time writing about the state of my heart and such a hard time writing about the state of my feets. hmmmm.

Each day when I walked to take class at Broadway dance center on 57th street I would look down 5th avenue and see the beautiful Radio City Marquee staring back at me. Art deco in design the large silver structure sat famously sticking its fabulousness into the street. The history behind Radio City Music Hall was epic. Build in the 1930’s by the Rockefeller's, not only was it an iconic structure that housed some of the most famous events of the century, but it was home to the world famous Radio City Rockettes. There Rockettes are the most famous dance company in the world, a legacy that had been around for over 75 years. The Rockettes had started as the Missouri Rockets in the 1930’s and then moved to Radio City and became the Rockettes shortly after. They would perform in between movie showings inside radio city, and every christmas season would star in their own show, the Radio City Christmas spectacular. The Rockettes were known for being the most beautiful, talented, precision dancers in the world. Their famous “eye high kicks” were known the world over. When I thought about the Rockettes I compared them to landing on the moon. I knew it was possible, I was almost completely certain that I would never do it in my lifetime. I saw nothing in myself that the posters staring back at me showed. I was not glamorous, I was not beautiful, I was not perfect. Women like this existed but I most certainly wasn’t one of them.

So, needless to say it took a ton of courage for me to show up a few months later at the Radio City Rockettes open call auditions. I had read about them in the dance trade paper and had packed up my tap shoes, favorite bodysuit and red lipstick in hopes that I was completely wrong about myself. When I walked that familiar street the morning of the audition I was overwhelmed, the line of Rockette hopefuls wrapped around the entire city block on 51st street, twice. Everywhere I looked, tall, beautiful, red lipped beauties stood waiting nervously head shots in hand for their chance to impress. There must have been over 700 girls in line. Everything inside me wanted to turn and run the other way. Somehow I managed to get in that line, and eventually into the large rehearsal hall inside the church of dance, Radio City Music hall. In groups of one hundred we were lead into the hall, we were measured, prodded at and lined up. Once inside the large rehearsal hall I managed to take my under confident eyes off the group and look around. I was awe struck. Everywhere were iconic photographs of the worlds most famous dancers. I do not remember what happened in the next hour but I do know that at some point I did some jazz, I did some tap and I got cut. As I grabbed my dance bag, girls everywhere were crying, complaining in their disdain for being cut. I was smiling. I was not disappointed, I was still completely awestruck that little old me had even set foot inside such a special place. I wanted to touch the walls, I wanted to smell the carpet. I wanted to never leave this magical place and wondered how long I could stand staring before someone kicked me out. Eventually someone did, but after that day that being a Rockette was my destiny. I could taste the words Rockette when I ate, I dreamed time-steps when I slept. The next round of auditions was only a few months away and I would be ready. I began an intense training regime of tap classes, workouts and research. I had a custom yellow leotard made so I would stand out. I started telling people, I am going to be a radio city rockette.
So a few months later I returned to Radio City and I danced like my life depended on it. I shuffled, balchanged and kicked with every ounce of courage I could. I was the best version of my dancer self I had ever been. Weeks later, when I was sitting in my childhood bedroom after I had gone home to visit my family and Radio City Entertainment called, my mom and I cried tears of joy when they invited me to be a part of the world famous Rockette line. I had done it. Little itybity Keltie, with the mediocer talent and the relentless dedication.

I spent that Christmas learning to be a Rockette. I cried the first time I walked onstage in my parade of the wooden soldier's costume. I worked so hard I lost 10 pounds. I gained 10 blisters, one on each toe, 20 new best friends and a list of 130 new things that were totally wrong about the way I danced from the directors of the show that somehow always seemed to be yelling some sort of correction in my direction. It was the happiest I had ever been in my life. My contract lasted 10 magical weeks and when it was over I went back to queens, and back out on tour with a totally different type of show, and I fell deeply in love with my very first rock star.