When 22-year-old Sydney Mesher was a little girl, she used to love watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. One of her favorite parts of the annual parade was seeing the Radio City Rockettes dance in Macy’s Square. Seeing the statuesque dancers perform their iconic kick line to holiday classics ignited a dream in this little girl’s mind.
“It was such a fond memory that I have,” Mesher said in a video on the Rockettes’ YouTube channel. “My whole family would be sitting around, making Thanksgiving dinner, and we would watch the parade and the Rockettes would come up. I would be glued to the television and that’s when I knew I wanted to be a Rockette.”
Mesher achieved her dancing dream when she was invited to join the Radio City Rockettes this year. Taking her place as a “lady of the line” came after years of training and overcoming numerous obstacles. In fact, Mesher has made history as the first Rockette with a visible disability. She was born with a congenital condition called symbrachydactyly that left her without a left hand.
The requirements to be a Rockette are rigorous, as the directors are looking for precise uniformity in the dance company, from movement to appearance. Rockettes must be between 5 foot, 6 inches and 5 foot, 10 1/2 inches tall. The height requirement helps create the symmetrical, smooth moves and transitions throughout each performance.
In the video produced by the Rockettes, Mesher talks about how she has adapted to the intricate choreography in the Radio City Hall, which also involves many props and even handbells. Mesher doesn’t think much about her limitations and said that all dancers have issues to overcome.
“Everyone has their own challenges that they go through. For me, I was born without my left hand and that’s probably my most obvious challenge,” she said in the Rockettes video, which you can watch below. “In the box turn in ‘Rag Dolls,’ I just have to move my hand a little further into the top of the box rather than the side of the box.”
A few months before Mesher’s most recent audition (2019 was her third attempt), she broke her foot. After reaching the final rounds of her previous two auditions, Mesher worked through her injury and made an incredible comeback during her two-day audition.
Her parents never doubted their daughter’s ability and passion for achieving her lifelong goal. Her father, Page Mesher, said Sydney was an active kid who was good at figuring out how to do anything she wanted to do. When she played softball, she learned how to catch, throw and bat with one hand, he told ESPN.
But dance was her true passion, and now, her story is inspiring others.
“Being a Rockette, and being a Rockette with one hand — I am groundbreaking in that sense,” Sydney told ESPN. “So even though I don’t consider my disability to be that challenging, I need to be in this position to let others have that opportunity.”