Kicking for a Job: Rockettes Hold N.Y. Auditions

There was a strange sight Thursday on 51st Street in Manhattan: Hundreds of statuesque women with dramatic eyeliner and swept-up hair waiting in line. They were there to make a bid to join the Radio City Rockettes. The young women auditioned for the Christmas show.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

If you happen to find yourself on 51st Street in midtown Manhattan today, you might have noticed hundreds of statuesque women with dramatic eyeliner and swept-up hair waiting patiently in line.

They were there to fulfill a dream many of them have had since they were young girls: to join the Radio City Rockettes. Here is what it sounded like as the young women auditioned for the annual Christmas show.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. McKENZIE SCHWARZKOPF(ph) (Applicant to the Rockettes): I'm McKenzie Schwarzkopf and there is a very long line of girls who are all hoping to achieve the same goal of becoming a Rockette.

(Soundbite of dancing)

Ms. SCHWARZKOPF: And it's wrapping around the building, so there's a lot of people here.

(Soundbite of dancing)

Ms. SCHWARZKOPF: We're all tall, 5'9" and a half, 5'10".

Unidentified Woman: Like 5'10" and a quarter and 5'10" and a half.

Ms. SCHWARZKOPF: Long legs. In the dance floor, it was hard being tall, and getting a job sometimes though to be a Rockettes(ph), it's the place to be when you're tall.

(Soundbite of dancing)

Ms. AMBER MARTIN(ph) (Applicant to the Rockettes): My name is Amber Martin. I'm from Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania. I think they're looking for originality, green eyes, short arms, precision. Like when they tell you to put your arms somewhere, your arms are there.

Ms. VALERIE BELL(ph) (Applicant to the Rockettes): I'm Valerie Bell and I'm here auditioning for the Radio City Rockettes. Every year on Thanksgiving morning, my sisters and I wake up and go sit in our beds and watch, waiting for the Rockettes, like none of us will take a shower until we see the Rockettes come in do their new dance steps they do and stuff.

Ms. LINDA HABERMAN (Director, Radio City Christmas Spectacular): So we're going to go up to the 7th floor, follow all the audition signs.

My name is Linda Haberman and I'm the director and choreographer of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.

Good afternoon.

Unidentified Group: Good afternoon.

Ms. HABERMAN: Five, six, seven, eight...

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. HABERMAN: It's interesting, I mean, they have to dance right and be able to blend in and do precision dance so they have to be very exact in their movements but as individual performers at the same time. So it's a tough job.

While you're thinking about those 99 details, you have to remember that you're a Rockette. Yes? And it's Christmas.

I believe that the style of dance requires them to be very strong and aggressive and dynamic when they're performing. They're women and, but I believe in being strong women.

Sorry, ladies.

Ms. MARY CATHERINE SMART(ph) (Applicant to the Rockettes): My name is Mary Catherine Smart and I'm third in the next round. I'm excited. So they said it's going to be a wait, so I'm going to get some food and dress up and come back.

Ms. CATHERINE HETHERLAND(ph) (Applicant to the Rockettes): My name is Catherine Hetherland. They kept maybe 20 people to do another combination and the rest of us are done. But you just have to keep trying, keep going. You always end up doing enough gigs that hopefully the rejection, you know, don't weigh on you as heavy. I think I'm going to get a manicure.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: Would be Rockettes in New York City. NPR's Robert Smith produced that audio for us.

(Soundbite of music)

SIEGEL: This is NPR, National Public Radio.

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