Step It Up and Kick: The Rockette Auditions

Rockettes
Photo: Tim Murphy

Last week, just as the Rockettes announced they'd be taking a jumbo version of their Christmas spectacular on the road to eighteen cities, about 400 lithe ladies lined up outside Radio City Music Hall in hopes of being among the 30 or 40 new dancers on the legendary kick line. It's competitive — even many active members have to re-audition — but entry means the chance to be a smiling cog in the world's most famous dance machine, not to mention a hefty salary (which a rep wouldn't disclose) for three months' work, from October through December. Five chorines who made the week's first cut told us why they wanted to be on the line. —Tim Murphy



ALANNA LIPSKY, 24, Upper West Side, catering captain.

Why do you want to be a Rockette?

I've heard it's a really great experience. They work you really hard. I'd like to be dancing full-time, not working in a catering hall.

What was hardest in the audition?

Just to keep your cool and emote this vibe that makes people want to look at you. It's more about a presence than the steps, which weren't that complicated.

Did you have to high kick?

Tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it. I can kick to my nose.

LAUREN GIBBS, 23, Upper East Side, chorus member in Wicked.
Why do you want to be a Rockette?
I've been a professional flying monkey in Wicked for a few years, and there's a little wear and tear on the body. The Rockettes are only for three months, so you can pull yourself out and explore other options. I want to go to L.A. and do pilot season.
Do you watch Step It Up and Dance?
Unfortunately, I have seen it. It was a little sad to me.
How high can you kick?
To behind my head. I grew up doing rhythmic gymnastics, so I bend.

ASHLEY EVERETT, 19, Hell's Kitchen, freelance dancer.
Why do you want to be a Rockette?
I've seen them perform. It seems very glamorous. I think they need some more diversity. You know, add a little flavor.
How was the racial mix in tryouts?
I think we could count about ten of us mixed or black girls out of about four hundred.
How long at a time can you smile for?
I smile a lot. Even when I'm mad sometimes, I'm smiling. So it shouldn't be too hard.

ERIN MOORE, 26, outside Philly, personal assistant to an arthritic woman.
Can you be a cog in a machine?
I thought it was going to be more militaristic than it actually was. You do have to be precise, but it's not as if you can't show yourself, too.
So how did you show yourself?
I was smiling and lifted in my sternum.
Is that a sassy look?
It's sort of like a poised but friendly look. Sassy, but not in-your-face sassy. Just elegant and smiley.

MACY REEVES, 28, Hell's Kitchen, freelance dancer–restaurant hostess–assistant audio engineer.
Is this your first time auditioning for the Rockettes?
It's my fourth year in a row. The first year I made it to the very end, but I didn't get a job offer. The second year I was cut in the first round. Last year, I made it to the second day.
What was hardest today?
Coordinating your hands, feet, and eyes to not necessarily all be going to the same place. It's like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time.
Why should they pick you?
I've been working really hard to stay in shape and have the high kicks the way they want them. I'm not getting old, because dancers don't get old. I have to stay positive. But it's getting to be about that time.