Susanville City Kickette and JandJ dancer Hailey Gregor poses in front of Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Photo submitted

Local Kickette trains with NYC Rockettes

Between July 15 and July 20, local dancer Hailey Gregor proudly represented Lassen County by working hard and dancing with dedication at the Radio City Rockettes Summer Intensive in New York City.

Gregor, a Susanville City Kickette, JandJ Performing Arts dancer and member of the Lassen High School drill team, auditioned and nabbed the highly sought after spot at the Intensive by submitting a home video that included a kick combo, a tap compo and a jazz combo.

The Intensive was truly remarkable for Gregor as she was able to soak up every ounce of the experience.

“I learned a lot about the history of the Rockettes,” said Gregor, “We took a tour of the Radio City Music Hall building and we got to see where they practice and where the parties are that famous celebrities hold. We got to go backstage to see how the floor works, how the pistons work and all that type of stuff.”

Once the tour was finished, it was time to get to work.

Gregor mentioned the participants of the Intensive had the opportunity to train with two of the Rockettes: Sarah Grooms and Katelyn Gaffney.

Gregor said, “They taught us multiple dances that they do in the Christmas shows. And then we also learned a routine that they performed with Pitbull.”

In fact, interacting with the Rockettes was the highlight of the experience for Gregor.

She said her favorite part of the experience was “just being there and taking notes from the Rockettes. They were so nice and so open to what we had to say. They were always telling us to ask questions and helping us.”

The program was packed with training and provided a whole new view to the famous dancers.

Gregor stated, “We just learned a lot of popular moves that they do, like we learned their infamous kick line, we learned their toy soldier routine, we learned one of their tap routines that they perform when they have the double-decker bus.”

The pressure to perform well did provide it’s own set of challenges, though. Gregor commented the most challenging aspect of the event was trying to dance at the Rockettes’ level.

“It’s so much different imagining it than actually being there and doing everything they tell you to do, but it was still so much fun. It’s surreal so it kind of catches you a little bit,” said Gregor.

Training with the Rockettes put a new perspective on the city for Gregor as well.

“I’ve been (to New York City) before, but it was so much different because I was there for a purpose. I was there to train with the Rockettes, not just to go tour. So going into the Radio City Music Hall, it was so much different than just seeing it. It was like ‘I’m going to be practicing here,’ so it was definitely more surreal than what it normally would have been,” said Gregor. “And Times Square was amazing, as always.

The Intensive will definitely have a lasting impact on Gregor as it has already influenced her plans.

Gregor stated she is absolutely interested in becoming a Rockette, but if her dreams to perform the kickline at Radio City Music Hall don’t pan out, she would still like revolve her career around dance.

She said, “I’d love to just open up my own studio and train dancers. (I would train) in all genres because all types of dance are so different but so great at the same time.”

The program has also influenced Gregor’s short-term plans. As a Susanville City Kickette and as a member of the high school drill team, Gregor hopes to share what she learned with both groups.

She said, “I’m on Kickettes so I was going to teach my fellow Kickettes what I learned there and we could somehow incorporate it into our dancing. This year we are doing a tap routine that’s inspired by the Rockettes. I’ll be teaching part of it; I’ll teach them how to do tap and that sort of thing.”

As for drill team, Gregor said the Intensive taught “how to learn as a team and how to work with each other.”

For example, regarding the Rockettes’ kick line, the Intensive taught “how to guide, how not to push people, and just a lot of tips and tricks on how to make everything look so seamless.”

As the event proved to greatly impact Gregor, she provided advice to anyone interested in applying for the program.

“Definitely keep an open mind. Don’t think that you aren’t going to get it or that you’re completely going to get it,” said Gregor. “Just hope for the best and try your hardest. That’s what I did.”

Gregor wanted to acknowledge her gratitude toward her sponsors, especially JandJ Performing Arts Director and Owner Jessica Wade.