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Rockettes put their best foot forward for demanding show

If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere.

But if you make it as a Rockette, you have to try out again the next year. Your spot is never a sure thing.

Ask Spartanburg native Jessica Pack, who has been a Rockette for seven years.

"I feel like being ranked No. 1 in the BCS," she said. "You're always fighting to keep your ranking. You never know if you're going to get your job back.

"The good thing for the audience and the Rockettes is it keeps the talent level high."

The talent, which includes eye-level kicking, of course, will be on display for two shows Sunday at the Colonial Life Arena.

Pack graduated from Spartanburg High School before attending Oklahoma University, where she earned a degree in dance. From the South to the Midwest to New York, Pack is all about packing her bags.

"It was quite a shock for the Southern girl to move to New York," she said. "It's the center of the dance world. I feel like we all convene here."

Pack thought she wanted to be a ballet dancer when she went to Oklahoma.

"I was looking for a more ballet-focused program," she said. "I thought I also wanted to be a ballerina. I saw the light in musical theater."

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes is more athletic spectacle than theater. Dancing in heels isn't easy. (Guys, ask your mother, sister or girlfriend about it, if you haven't tried it yourself.)

Try kicking in 2 1/2-inch heels with a smile glued to your face while sweat pours from your body.

By the end of the show, everything, Pack said, has been sweated off her, except her red lipstick and eyelashes.

"It is intense. Just like football players that jump into an ice bath after a game, we do the same thing," Pack said. "It's probably less glamorous than people would imagine."

The Rockettes perform more than 200 eye-high kicks during the show. They do tap routines and cuddle with Santa Claus. And they do this for up to 16 90-minute shows a week.

The Rockettes also have faster in-concert wardrobe changes than Britney Spears.

"We're doing the quickest changes you've ever seen in your life," Pack said. "We had to run (the show) several times during our costume tech rehearsals.

"The poor new girls, it's like being thrown into the fire."

But, like Pack, they kicked their way onto the stage. Or off, like Pack's roommate.

"That made it kind of awkward," she said. "I felt really sad. But you can audition next year."

One girl touring with the Rockettes this year was hired for the first time in six years of auditions.

She probably feels like the king of the hill. If you make it as a Rockette, you can make it in New York.

IF YOU GO

WHEN: 4 and 7 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Colonial Life Arena

TICKETS: $51.50 and $69.50

INFORMATION: TWCtix.com or (877) 489-2849

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