"I can't believe Christmas is cancelled!"

Ashley Ayer Martin is from Owensboro, but she fondly remembers her years with the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.  Ashley, like so many others, is in disbelief that, for the first time in its history, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular is cancelled.  That announcement was made this week.  The show- another casualty of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  For some perspective, the show debuted way back in 1933 and has been staged every year since.  Until now.

While I have never seen the show at its original home in New York City, I have seen the Christmas Spectacular a few times, most recently at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.  It's a master class in precision and Christmas spirit and, as Ashley attests, "brings so much joy to the numerous families and fans and casts and crews."  As a former Rockette, Ashley admits, "I can't imagine what NYC will be like without the Radio Christmas Spectacular."

Ashley was talented enough to become a Rockette and lived that realized dream fully.  She got to personally experience that holiday magic annually and thrill audiences with it during the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, where she danced in the show's iconic numbers such as the legendary "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers."

Rockette 1

In addition to performing in Radio City's Christmas Spectacular, Ashley recalls other incredible highlights from her career as a Rockette.  Among those highlights and memorable milestones: dancing in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, throwing out the first pitch at a Detroit Tigers game and meeting celebrities like Hugh Jackman, Richard Gere, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas and more.

Ashley Ayer Martin
Ashley Ayer Martin

Ashley auditioned for the Rockettes in Chicago back in 1999.  And, guess what?  She made it on her first try.  She says performing in a line with thirty-six other strong women and dancing together as one was life-changing, not only for her, but for the audiences they performed for.  She says, "Seeing the smiles we would put on the audience's faces when we came onto the stage and the curtains opened gave me goosebumps. Seeing the house that seats 6,000 people was truly amazing."

And Ashley enjoyed an incredibly rewarding and successful 11-year career with the Rockettes.  Some of her fellow dancers are still members.  In fact, they were preparing for their 19th season with the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.  But that 19th season, unfortunately, will have to wait.  However, the legendary spirit of the Rockettes remains.  Ashley's Rockette sister, Tara Memi, says, "It takes a special kind of human to do what the massive team of people do each and every holiday season for millions of people to enjoy.  Resilience is the name of the game, and if there is any group of people that can make it through this, it is all of them!"

Now THAT is the spirit.  It's a spirit that Ashley still carries with her today as she teaches and coaches dance here in Owensboro.  She concludes, "I was with this amazing legacy for 11 years in my dancing career and still pinch myself today that I did it!"

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