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Gillette News Record featured Pace alumna Sydney Mesher in "Dancer born with one hand makes Radio City Rockettes history"

01/02/2020

Gillette News Record featured Pace alumna Sydney Mesher in "Dancer born with one hand makes Radio City Rockettes history"

A dancer born with one hand is the first person with a visible disability ever hired by New York's famed Radio City Rockettes.

“I don't want to be known as the dancer who has one hand, and not because that's a bad thing," Sydney Mesher, who joined the Rockettes this season, told Newsday. “But because I've worked very hard to be where I am.”

Mesher, 22, is missing a left hand because of symbrachydactyly, a rare congenital condition.

The Pace University graduate from Portland, Oregon, was hired by the Rockettes after her fourth audition. She said she has been “mesmerized” by the troupe, which dates to 1925, ever since first seeing them on TV in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Mesher said she started dancing as a child and attended a performing arts high school. In the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, audiences caught up in the show might not notice her missing hand, even where there are minor modifications to the act to accommodate her. In one number where the Rockettes ring a bell in each hand, she rings just one.

Rockettes creative director Karen Keeler called Mesher "an incredibly versatile dancer with a strong work ethic." Keeler said Mesher “is smart and determined, with an eye for detail.”

The annual Radio City Christmas Spectacular runs through Jan. 5.

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"Washington Times" featured Pace University graduate Sydney Mesher in "Dancer born with one hand makes Radio City Rockettes history"

12/06/2019

"Washington Times" featured Pace University graduate Sydney Mesher in "Dancer born with one hand makes Radio City Rockettes history"

A dancer born with one hand is making hoofer history as the first person with a visible disability ever hired by New York’s famed Radio City Rockettes.

“I don’t want to be known as the dancer who has one hand, and not because that’s a bad thing,” Sydney Mesher, who joined the Rockettes this season, told Newsday. “But because I’ve worked very hard to be where I am.”

Mesher, 22, is missing a left hand because of symbrachydactyly, a rare congenital condition.

The Pace University graduate from Portland, Oregon, was hired by the Rockettes after her fourth audition. She said she has been “mesmerized” by the troupe, which dates to 1925, ever since first seeing them on TV in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Rockettes creative director Karen Keeler caled Mesher “an incredibly versatile dancer with a strong work ethic.” Keeler said Mesher “is smart and determined, with an eye for detail.”

Read the full Washington Times article.

 

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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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"Newsday" featured Pace alumn Sydney Mesher in "Radio City Rockette Sydney Mesher makes history as troupe's first dancer with visible disability"

12/05/2019

"Newsday" featured Pace alumn Sydney Mesher in "Radio City Rockette Sydney Mesher makes history as troupe's first dancer with visible disability"

“My parents say I started dancing before I could walk,” says Sydney Mesher, 22, who joyfully joined the ranks of the legendary Rockettes this season after her fourth audition in two years.

In the annual Radio City Christmas Spectacular running through Jan. 5, she isn’t just realizing a personal dream come true with every twirl, tap and kick. Mesher is also making hoofer history and strides for inclusivity.

Born without a left hand, the exuberant Pace University graduate from Portland, Oregon, is the first dancer with a visible disability to be hired for the precision dance company founded in 1925. The troupe is famous for its uniformity. Mesher has bent the mold.

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Dance classes started early for Mesher. As a kid, her parents enrolled her in dance class just for fun. In her performing arts high school, she took classes in jazz, tap, ballet and hip-hop and got “tunnel vision” about dance. “It was something I loved and was good at,” she said. “I decided to do it as a profession.” Studies continued at Pace.

Mesher takes her physical difference — due to symbrachydactyly, a congenital limb-development condition affecting 1 out of 32,000 babies — in stride. “I don’t know anything different,” she said. That goes for whether she’s dancing, working out or donning an elaborate costume, like the reindeer outfit worn in a jolly, jingling number. Costumers have made some alterations where possible to help her with accessibility. In a number where the other dancers ring two handheld bells, Mesher rings one — a modification the audience may not even notice.

Read the full Newsday article.

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"Health Magazine" featured School of Performing Arts student Sydney Mesher in "People Are Shocked I’m a Dancer Because I Was Born Missing This Body Part"

06/20/2018

"Health Magazine" featured School of Performing Arts student Sydney Mesher in "People Are Shocked I’m a Dancer Because I Was Born Missing This Body Part"

"You don't have to be the stereotypical person to do the things that you want to do."

This video is part of Health’s #RealLifeStrong series, where we are celebrating women who represent strength, resilience, and grace.

When Sydney Mesher tells people she's a dancer, they're often surprised, she says. The 20-year-old was born without a left hand, but that hasn't stopped her from pursuing her dreams in an industry known for its rigid body standards: "I get to be that person that kind of breaks that barrier, of that mindset."

Mesher’s left arm ends at the base of her wrist due to symbrachydactyly, a rare condition that causes the underdevelopment of limbs in the womb. "Growing up, I dealt with a lot of bullying," says the Portland, Ore., native. But she eventually recognized that the way people reacted to her was really all about them: "What's happening is someone's acting out of their own fear."

Mesher is currently studying dance at Pace University in New York City. "With dance you are constantly growing. There's no stopping point," she says. "There's always a place to be better." After college, she hopes to become a Rockette or a backup dancer for Lady Gaga.

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

Her individuality shines through her work: "This is part of who I am. It’s not who I am, but it’s part of me. I want to share who I am and what I love, and celebrate that.” For more of Mesher's story, check out the video above.

Read the article.