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"Atlanta Journal Constitution" featured performing arts alumn Sydney Mesher in "Rockettes hire first dancer with a visible disability"

12/06/2019

"Atlanta Journal Constitution" featured performing arts alumn Sydney Mesher in "Rockettes hire first dancer with a visible disability"

For the first time in the troupe’s history, there is a dancer with a visible disability.

Sydney Mesher, a dancer and model from Portland, Oregon, was born without a left hand. But, according to her website, she “found confidence within her unique body, and has embarked on a journey of celebrating and praising all body types.”

On Nov. 13, she made her debut at Radio City Music Hall as a Rockette. Fans of the Rockettes have another reason to kick up their heels. For the first time in the troupe’s history, there is a dancer with a visible disability.

Sydney Mesher, a dancer and model from Portland, Oregon, was born without a left hand. But, according to her website, she “found confidence within her unique body, and has embarked on a journey of celebrating and praising all body types.”

On Nov. 13, she made her debut at Radio City Music Hall as a Rockette. 

The requirements for being a Rockette include a dance background in ballet, jazz and tap, and a height between 5 feet, 6 inches and 5 feet, 10.5 inches. 

Nowhere does it say you have to have two hands, however.

Mesher was born with symbrachydactyly, a rare condition that causes the underdevelopment of limbs in the womb. "Growing up, I dealt with a lot of bullying," she told Health magazine last year. She was studying dance at Pace University at the time of the Health interview, and said she had hopes of becoming a Rockette or a backup dancer for Lady Gaga after graduation. 

“I’m very grateful that I’m at a time in this industry where we’re starting to accept different body types," she told Health. "I know I am different. Especially as an artist, it's so important to have those differences."

The Rockettes have been finding ways to add “differences” to the troupe. During auditions here in May, creative director Karen Keeler said Atlanta dancers can help to culturally diversify the lineup.

Mesher’s difference is just another way the group is trying to diversify.

Read the full Atlanta Journal Constitution article.

 

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"Atlanta Journal Constitution" featured Pace University students Wesley Goodrich and Sam Casey in "Theater festival in Norcross launches with reading about Emmett Till"

01/16/2019

"Atlanta Journal Constitution" featured Pace University students Wesley Goodrich and Sam Casey in "Theater festival in Norcross launches with reading about Emmett Till"

Wesley Goodrich learned the story of Emmett Till as a child. Goodrich’s mother, a history teacher, made sure her son knew about the 14-year-old African-American boy from Chicago who was murdered by white men in 1955 while visiting relatives in Money, Miss.

By the time Goodrich left his Brooklyn neighborhood to study directing at Pace University in New York City, he firmly believed that history can help you make sense of the present. So in the summer of 2016 when Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, two black men, became victims of police shootings, Goodrich knew the past and the present were colliding.

“I remember feeling powerless and feeling like if it was happening to other people who looked like me, it would eventually happen to me,” said Goodrich.

It seemed to him a sentiment that many young black men must have felt in 1955 when Emmett Till was killed, accused of flirting with a white woman. “It was the first time the whole country had to confront racism in a tangible way after the Civil War,” Goodrich said. “They had to reckon with it when a 14-year-old boy is laying in a coffin in front of them.”

That summer, Goodrich was inspired to write “A Good Place to Raise a Boy,” a play that details the events leading up to Emmett Till’s death as well as the family’s grief and subsequent response. On Thursday, Goodrich brings a reading of the play to Atlanta as part of the first New Works Festival at Lionheart Theatre in Norcross.

The two-day festival, founded by Goodrich’s classmate and Norcross native Sam Casey, promises to bring a new type of theater experience to metro Atlanta. “The ultimate goal is to have festival viewers enjoy what used to be called experimental theater,” said Casey, who is also a senior at Pace University. Casey hopes to make the festival an annual event that brings young artists from New York City and eventually other cities around the country to work with artists in metro Atlanta and produce innovative theater.

The second day of the festival (Friday) will feature two short plays also by students at Pace University. “Sun (day)” is the story of the first U.S. colony on Venus, where the sun shines only once every seven years. The “Boo Hog” features a mysterious woman in the mountains of Appalachia who is either evil or misunderstood.

Award-winning director Joanie McElroy will lead Atlanta-area actors in a reading of “A Good Place to Raise a Boy.” McElroy noted how the play highlights Mamie Till’s foresight in using her son’s death as a moment to teach the world. “In the play, Ruby Hurley says to Emmett’s mother, ‘Your son woke the country up,’” McElroy said. More than a half-century later, Emmett Till’s death continues to inform generations of Americans.

Read the full article.