With perfectly timed danced routines, including an iconic kick line, the Radio City Rockettes are one of the most famous dance troupes in the world. From as early on as she can remember, Sydney Mesher dreamt of gracing the stage of Radio City Music Hall, home to the Radio City Rockettes. But the longstanding troupe, which began in the 1920s, had never had a dancer that looked like her – someone with a physical disability.
During a routine second-trimester ultrasound, Mesher’s parents, Lynn and Page Mesher of Portland, Oregon, learned that their child would be born without a left hand. The rare condition known as symbrachydactyly, which causes congenital hand differences, occurs in approximately 1-in-32,000 babies born each year, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Kicking Down Disability Barriers
Nonetheless, starting at a young age, Mesher displayed remarkable athletic ability; and her mother and father encouraged her to follow her dreams and, when necessary, kick down any and all disability-related misconceptions. As she entered her twenties, Mesher auditioned to be a Radio City Rockette. She didn’t make the cut with her initial attempt; but she continued to press on and train hard, even despite a career-jeopardizing broken foot.
Then, in 2019, merely two weeks after getting out of a rehabilitative walking boot, Mesher auditioned again for the Radio City Rockettes. And in the process of making her own dreams come true, she made history by becoming the first Radio City Rockette with a visible disability.
“I think that we just need representation in all sorts of ways, not only with limb differences but with diversity and a different range of disabilities,” shared Mesher, shortly after joining the New York City based troupe. “Everyone should be able to have a role model that they connect with.” Mesher, for example, looked up to Nicole Jamieson, a star basketball player who was also born with one hand. Mesher says their unique friendship helped to build her confidence.
Performing as a Radio City Rockette
Like her fellow 80+ Radio City Rockette dancers, Mesher maintains a grueling schedule leading up to the busy annual production of The Radio City Christmas Spectacular. The troupe typically works on vigorous choreography for six hours a day, six days a week. Then, once the show opens, the Radio City Rockettes perform four shows daily!
Now as a seasoned Radio City Rockette, Mesher is centrally positioned in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular kick line. And if you’re wondering what she does outside of the holiday season… well, she continues to dance while also working as a model and commercial actress. She’s helped brands, like Adidas and Olay Beauty, advance inclusive representation. Plus, during the last off-season, Mesher filmed “A Holiday Spectacular,” a movie that premiered on the Hallmark Channel in November 2022.
In 2023, Mesher will add ‘author’ to her already impressive resume with the release of her children’s book titled, “Dancing Through Life: The True Story of Sydney Mesher, a Professional Dancer with a Limb Difference.”
There’s still time to catch this year’s production of The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which runs daily through January 2, 2023. Find tickets here.