With more than 600 superlative dancers auditioning each year to join the prestigious line of hoofers renowned for being Radio City Music Hall Rockettes, the incentive of a relentless pursuit to be chosen after placing number 460 on the initial try becomes heightened for future efforts.
Needless to say, being measured to stand tall at between 5 feet 6 inches and 5 feet 10 inches is one of the requirements to tip up to.
Athleticism, precision and the fact the chosen must be able to smile through four shows daily for a season of 200 90-minute holiday shows billed the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular; execute 300 eye-high kicks and make eight costume changes in a matter of seconds is no easy feat.
Prior to 1988 Rockettes were all one race — Caucasian.
The reason for that was that any other selections would cause a distraction.
According to that cigarette commercial “we’ve come a long way Baby!”
In 2019, yesterday’s distractions are regarded as diverse attractions.
This year six compliment the revered line — three new African Americans, two Latinas and even a dancer with one hand.
The diversity enhancement to fill a line of 80 accomplished dancers still manages to accomplish fulfillment of a tradition that has kept families in awe since 1933.
Alicia Lundgren, an Oakland, California native whose numerical placing improved in 2013 placed her among the chosen few. That in 2014 she emerged one of the distinguished, African-Americans to join the diverse, national treasure that attracts millions of tourists to New York City adds to the marvel of arriving at the summit of an illustrious career.
“It’s a joy to be on the line,” Lundgren told this insider.
Enthusiastic, exuberant and elated about her envied opportunity, she gushes at the notion that from a small child she was convinced her career path would lead to the biggest of Big Apple stages.
She said her single mother exposed her to many of the aspects involved in traversing what could be a hazardous course. She escorted her to dance recitals, enrolled her in jazz, ballet, tap programs and encouraged her to follow the roadmap of a journey which included the Ailey/Fordham Program at the Alvin Ailey School and a stint with the Disney Cruise Lines.
In our conversation, Lundgren did not mention encountering any roadblocks before reaching her dream destination. In fact, according to the dancer what might be perceived to be an unexpected detour placed her in direct contact with Marlon Baptiste, the life partner she married five years ago.
She said, on one particular cruise, Baptiste, a Grenadian became enamored with the dancing cruising talent and before long charmed her with sorrel, nutmeg and Spice Mas.
She has visited his acclaimed Spice Island on two occasions and admitted to sampling breadfruit and some of the culinary delights unique to the Eastern Caribbean destination.
The fact she is now a Brooklyn resident affords easy proximity to a plethora of Caribbean restaurants ready to serve island menus eliminating the hassle of cooking.
Lundgren has some advice for young girls aspiring to become a Rockette –”keep working…stay in dance classes…beyond that keep dancing… it’s not all about dripping in diamonds…just keep working….”
In addition to nailing routines choreographed to start on the count of 5,6,7, 8, part of the role of being a Radio City Music Hall Rockette is performing duties related to community outreach.
One of the most rewarding seems to be empowering disabled youngsters through the Garden of Dreams Foundation which aids in empowering youths facing challenges.
Did you catch the Rockettes recently when they performed on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Despite the cold temperature, crowds seemed to be warmed by the cadence and knee action aced by the dancers. When they lock arms to flex those legs crowds cheer their loudest.
Even besting the ho ho ho arrival of Santa Clause.
Lundgren will appear as a reindeer, toy soldier, Santa Clause.. and in addition will showcase NY at Christmas through Jan. 5.
Catch You On The Inside!