This I Believe
I believe in the Rockettes. This may sound strange coming from a 5’2” horsewoman. But I live by the Rockette code. What does it take to be a Rockette? Unlimited enthusiasm, endurance and energy. Standard of excellence in personal appearance attitude and sense style. I know because I went to Rockette Camp. After years of exclaiming out loud every Thanksgiving “everything should work as well as the Rockettes”, at the age of 45 I went to Radio City Music Hall and spent the day learning a couple of routines and the official Rockette kick. I want to point out that the next oldest dancer was 21 and although my “high eye” kicks are more “solar plexus” these days, but, I held my own in the posture, smile and tapping bits.
Now, I do have some dance training. As a child I attended professional school in London where a pronouncement was made that I was too short and had the hands of a farmer and would never make it as a dancer. Funny how that turned out. Now I live on a farm in Maine with my family where we breed Welsh Cobs. But I still do some tap classes and some ballroom dancing. And I still keep my ballroom dancing gold medal with my pony club pin. These days I travel all over the US and abroad to judge horse shows.
I know now that producing a horse for the show ring is much the same as preparing for Radio City. You start with form. Correct conformation. In horses it is about proportion, quality and type. In Rockettes, well, it is pretty much the same thing though their legs are longer. Both dancer and horse must have stage presence. In the horse biz possessing the “look at me” quality makes the difference between a nice horse and a show horse.
Then there is the training. The dancer, the horse and the rider all need strong classic training. Arduous drill work conditions the body and creates the foundation. The choreography creates the theater. The routine is rehearsed so that it appears seamless and flawless. The costume completes the picture. In the show ring it has more to do with immaculate grooming then a red velvet Santa suit with ermine trim and little hat.
It all comes down to the excellence. When the lights come up or when the steward calls your class. The performance begins. And it is excellent, because it was planned, organized, practiced and it appears to be magic. Maybe it is not of global importance, but it is nice that something can give you goosebumps or is just fun. It is a show. When I enter the ring I think of my day at Radio City. The instructor who led us was such a poised and graceful dancer and so polite and charming. She hardly had to say how proud she was to be a Rockette, it radiated from her. Now when I enter the ring I aspire to be a Rockette: grace, precision and show biz on horseback.
So the next time you see the Rockettes perform, that is me, and my horse….and five, six, seven, eight!!!
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