|08-29-03: New Bremen woman Rockettes
to fame in Big Apple
|By SHELLEY GRIESHOP
NEW BREMEN — Erin Boyd remembers watching The Radio City
Rockettes on television, marching side-by-side in perfect sync
in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
She was 4, and awestruck. “I’d tape it every year,
they were my inspiration,” she said.
Three weeks ago, the 23-year-old’s dream of becoming one
of those high-stepping world-famous dancers came true. After two
days of intense auditioning in New York, she got the call.
“I screamed,” she admitted with a smile. “I
don’t think they even got a chance to tell me I had made
it. I just knew. I had this gut feeling.”
A 1999 New Bremen High School graduate, Boyd will begin rehearsal
with the Rockettes in early November at the Radio City Music Hall
in New York City. Her first big production with the famous dance
troupe will be the Christmas Spectacular this holiday season.
“I can’t wait for that moment, I hope I don’t
faint,” she said with a laugh. “I’ll be bubbling
There are two groups of Rockettes, one blue and one gold. The
gold cast, into which Boyd was inducted, receives a few more perks
and handles more publicity work, she said.
The famed Rockettes were created by Russell Markert, who in 1925
began in show business with 16 women — today there are 36.
Their lavish costumes, precision drill routines and leggy chorus
line have made them a hit in many Broadway productions. Many people
know them as the girls with long legs and the signature hats with
long, white plumage.
Hundreds of women audition for the Rockettes each year. To qualify,
you must be at least 18, between 5 foot, 5 1/2-inches and 5 foot,
101⁄2 inches tall, and be proficient in tap, jazz and ballet.
It’s been a long road for Boyd, even though the beautiful
blue-eyed brunette seems to have a natural dancing talent.
“I pretty much got my rhythm while in my mother’s
womb,” she joked, during an interview this week in her family’s
Her mother, Rhonda Boyd, who never danced professionally, has
operated Rhonda’s School of Dance in New Bremen for 25 years.
The family added the dance studio onto their home on North Herman
Street when Boyd was only 5.
“Mom couldn’t get
me out of there,” she said with a laugh. “I was always
teaching myself flips and putting on shows, being creative.”
She began competing in dance contests at age 9, and by the time
she entered fifth-grade, she knew dancing was her calling.
“By entering contests with my other students, Erin was exposed
to professionals,” Rhonda Boyd said. “The professional
dancers were good people who got to travel a lot. Erin wanted
At 12, Boyd was chosen by the All American Dance Team to perform
at the Hula Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii. Later as a high school freshman,
she accompanied the national group in the same Macy’s parade
that she dreamed about as a child.
“It was my first
trip to New York. I knew I wanted to become a Rockette and live
there. I loved it,” Boyd said.
While her fellow high school seniors were choosing colleges, Boyd
headed for Hollywood for dance training. Three months before graduation,
she auditioned in Chicago for Disney Studios.
came flying out in the hallway saying they wanted her for a Tarzan
show,” her mother said. “She had made the cuts. It
would have been her first real dancing job.”
But there was one hitch.
“I looked at mom and said,
‘But I have to graduate and I have the state track meet,’
” Boyd said.
A state finalist in the high jump, she turned down the Disney
job explaining she was only in high school.
But the experience wasn’t in vain. She now knew she could
do it, she could compete with the best. It just wasn’t her
time — yet.
After graduation she landed numerous jobs in places like the Country
Tonight Theater in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and on the Celebrity Cruise
Line ships. She also danced in the show “Imagine”
at Caesar’s Palace in Atlantic City, and later in “Storm”
in Las Vegas where she met her actor/singer boyfriend, L.J. Jellison.
In December, she danced in the Broadway show “42nd Street”
in New York after working for months as a professional dance teacher
in several states including Michigan and Tennessee.
Perhaps one of her more unusual auditions occurred in February
2001 when she tried out for singer Madonna’s World Tour
in New York City.
“Dancers were lined up for four city
blocks waiting their turn,” said Rhonda Boyd, who accompanied
her daughter to the audition. “Thousands of them.”
After cuts, cuts and more cuts, Boyd made the final 15, but not
the final five, she said.
“They told me I was too tall,”
she said, shaking her head as she looked down at her 5-foot, 6-inch
frame. Taller dancers might upstage the much shorter Diva star,
“That’s when they told me I would
have had to shave my head for the job. I said, ‘We’re
fine, this is OK,’ ” she said with a grin.
Rhonda Boyd said her daughter has always been self-assured, really
“You have to have confidence and be ready to
work. Rehearsals can be excruciating — 12-hour days sometimes
for three weeks straight,” the young dancer explained.
Her parents don’t think the stardom has gone to their daughter’s
head. They see her as the same small-town girl that twirled about
in her mother’s studio just a few short years ago.
Boyd smiled at her mother’s compliment.
never forgotten what my dad (Kenneth) always told me, ‘Make
sure your hat always fits.’ ”
— For information or tickets to the Rockettes shows, visit
their Web site at www.radiocity.com.
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