OSSINING, N.Y. – Ossining teen Jessica Chambers has spent more than 10 years training as a dancer. But she knew she would get only 30 seconds for a shot at her dream of becoming one of New York City's Rockettes.
The 16-year-old auditioned this year with thousands of girls from around the country who have all dreamed of becoming Rockettes, dancing in front of packed crowds at Radio City Music Hall. Of the thousands who audition, judges pick only a few to study and train with the Rockettes and their choreographers in the Rockettes Summer Intensive program. Members say acceptance is a crucial step for any girl hoping to become a Rockette.
Chambers tried out for the program last year, and was devastated when she wasn’t accepted. She knew that this year was most likely her last chance.
“When your name is called, you have one chance to prove to the judges that you have the potential to be a Rockette,” Chambers said. “They don’t care about my years of dancing in Ossining or if my foot hurts that morning. They only care about those 30 seconds that they see me. So I know I’ve got to make it count.”
It wasn’t until a few months later that Chambers found out she did make those seconds count, when she read the word “congratulations” at the top of her acceptance letter at her family’s Ossining home. It’s a moment her mother, Lauralee Chambers, says the whole family will never forget.
“We were all really nervous, and Jessica could almost not sit still,” Lauralee Chambers said. “She knew that last year’s letter started with ‘thank you’ instead, so she was hoping to just see that one word. We screamed our heads off and jumped for joy. I have never seen my daughter that happy, and it just was a beautiful moment when she looked at me and said, ‘I now know what “tears of joy” really means.’ ”
The Rockettes Summer Intensive kicks off this week, but before heading off, Jessica said she was already living her dream.
“The Rockettes are legends and icons of New York, and I think it’s every little girl’s dream to be a Rockette. This is what I want more than anything else,” she said. “As soon as I am 18, I’m going to be on that line, waiting for my chance to truly become a Rockette.”
MSG Varsity chronicled the audition process through the “Rockettes Summer Intensive” series spotlighting Chambers and several other girls during the audition process. The episodes can be viewed on the MSG Varsity website.