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Rockettes - Then and Now

E-mail Lorraine

Then

Now

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Lorraine Holscher, born and raised in Minnesota and dancing since she was 7, worked at Radio City Music Hall under the direction of Russell Markert and Emily Sherman from 1959 to 1961. Lorraine is married to Lawrence Sarek. They live in northern Minnesota where they are both active in AKC events with their three Chesapeake Bay Retrievers (i.e., field trials, hunt tests, etc.).

Lorraine is pictured here in the back row center left in top hat and center right in military costume with her "Happy Tappers" who perform throughout the year entertaining at nursing homes and community events.

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November 2002, Minnesota Monthly magazine writes "High Kicking - A Rockette from 1959 keeps Cook, Minn. in fine form"

Lorraine Sarek knows what a stage looks like from the high kicking line of the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes - and she's taught all she knows to a senior citizen dance line of a dozen fellow Cook, Minn. women. The Happy Tappers perform in and around Cook and, she says, "everyone says we have great legs."

Dance was always Sarek's passion. She was dancing, teaching, and auditioning in Minneapolis in the late 1950's, but she had never even seen the Rockettes perform when she sent off a glossy photo of herself in a leotard with a resume to Radio City Music Hall in New York at the prompting of her dance teacher. "Dance was really my world while I was growing up," she says. "I would rather dance than eat, sleep, whatever."

She auditioned with all those famous Rockette moves - over-the-head kicks, right-left alternating kicks, controlled kicks, fan kicks, and even splits. The competition was tough - 200 other dancers - but Sarek made the cut. "The whole thing took, I suppose, not more than 10 minutes," she says.

She replaced one of the Rockettes in a new show in 1959. One of her housemates stayed up all night to help her learn routines the night before the show opened. The next day, she was on stage at 6:30 a.m., rehearsing in full stage makeup, costume, and shoes. She made it through without one mistake, and began three years of rehearsing routines during the days and going home at night to a New York brownstone dormitory she shared with the other dancers. She worked as a Rockette for four weeks before, on a rare day off, she first saw a show from the audience. She cried, she says, at how beautiful it was to watch. "It took my breath away."

Her dominant memory of that time is a feeling of community. All the girls lived and worked together. "You had to learn to get along," she says. The camaraderie was still there when the alumni got together for the 75th anniversary last year. "It's like a huge sorority," she says. "We pick up right where we left off."

Well, almost. Like most Rockettes, Sarek says she married a non-dancer. Which means the dance floors at Rockette reunions are empty.

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