DUMONT — About two dozen lucky Bergen County dancers got the rare opportunity on Tuesday to practice with the famous Rockettes.
“Just do your best and smile – that’s the most important thing,” said Mandy Evans, as she and another Rockette, Jennifer Fiandt, led the students through a series of warm ups.
Then came the hard work of learning the steps to New York at Christmas, a scene from the group’s Radio City Christmas Spectacular, when the Rockettes descend the double-decker tour bus. They also learned the group’s world-famous precision kick line.
The hour-long session and question and answer period at Dance Dimensions in Dumont was part of the group’s media tour to promote the upcoming season of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which begins on Nov. 11.
Students who attend Starz Performing Arts Academy in East Rutherford also will have the opportunity to learn from The Rockettes on Thursday.
The two dance schools were among the five top vote-getters in a contest the Radio City Christmas Spectacular ran on Facebook.
“They are just over-the-top thrilled,” Annette Merlini, the director of the Dance Dimensions said. “With New York City being so close, so many of them have gone to see the Radio City Christmas show. It’s something they can relate to and aspire to. To have the teachers come right here and dance with them, and they get the opportunity to ask questions and take pictures with them, it’s thrilling for the kids.”
Earlier in the day, the two dancers visited The Art of Cake on Kinderkamack Road in Oradell.
Storeowner Tammy Dunwoody had spent hours creating a five-layer cake using The Parade of The Wooden Soldiers as inspiration.
Dunwoody’s creation along with four others will be posted on the group’s Facebook page. A winner will be announced in about two weeks, said Michelle Isaacs, a spokeswoman for the company.
The dancers said students normally ask questions centering on their experience as a Rockette, the height range and their routines.
“We usually tell them about your own process,” said Evans, who is originally from Lyndhurst. “It makes them believe that they can also do it.”
At the Dumont dance session, Ashley Balasa, 11, who has been taking dance classes at Dance Dimensions for the past seven years, said her favorite part of the evening was learning that famous Rockettes’ kick line.
Last year, she had to watch from the sidelines, but this year she got to participate.
“It’s a phenomenal feeling,” she said.
Caroline Ogden, 17, of Teaneck, said it was her 11th year dancing with Dance Dimensions.
“It’s a lot of fun,” she said of the Rockettes tutorial. “It’s interesting to learn the choreography that’s displayed and advertised on a world scale. They are amazing…. It’s such an honor to have them here to teach us. They’re like our idols.”
She said she hopes to grow up to be a Rockette.
“I wish I could,” she said, “but I think I’m a little too short by an inch or two.”