Three sisters—Alison, Kristin and Lisa Jantzie—talk about being Radio City Rockettes
The Jantzie sisters are the Rockettes’ triple threat
Thu Dec 5 2013
Photograph: Avi Gerver/MSG Photos
Being a Rockette is competitive work; being a Rockette with your sisters raises the stakes. But for Kristin, Lisa and Alison Jantzie, dancing together is motivating. And the sisters find relief in their individual strengths; like the snowflakes in Linda Haberman's new Snow, no two Jantzie sisters are alike, even when part of the same kick line. Looking ahead to their heralded seasonal run in New York, the girls talk about the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall and more.
Not all Rockettes dance alike, even when they’re sisters. Kristin Jantzie was the first to make it into the esteemed company in 2005. There’s a reason she’s lasted so long: She’s a natural. For Lisa, now in her fourth season, ballet was her first calling; that’s still evident in her line. (For the record, the 28-year-olds are identical twins.) Alison, 26 and a member since 2011, was drawn to musical theater and adds dramatic dimension. In honor of the season, the Jantzie sisters talk about Snow, Linda Haberman’s newest addition to the Christmas Spectacular. It’s not your everyday winter wonderland.
Why did you start dancing?
Lisa: We all started dancing when we were really young at our local dance studio. Kristin and I started taking dance lessons—it was just something our mom encouraged us to do.
Kristin: Our mother is definitely a dancer at heart.
Alison: But she didn’t dance.
Kristin: She never really pursued it. It sounds like she took some lessons on and off, but she just loves dance. I mean she loves when we’re dancing, but she even loves watching any dance. Our studio was in an old church, so the dance studio was on the second level and Alison would come up the stairs and sit and watch our dance class, so it was pretty much inevitable that Alison was going to join as soon as she could walk, talk.
Alison: Lisa and Kristin did duets, and I was never invited. [Laughs]
Kristin: Did we never do a trio? Of course, competitions were a part of our training as well as ballet school and conventions and examinations for tap, jazz and ballet.
Lisa: Once we got into high school, we started to pursue more of our own interests with dance. So I ended up going to a ballet school, and Kristin was living in a different city doing more jazz and competition.
Alison: I went to a performing-arts conservatory in Toronto after I graduated from my school, and I wasn’t really sure that this was ever going to become an opportunity for me; I saw Kristin in the show in 2005, and I didn’t audition for five years. It was the most amazing thing to see the Rockettes. I took the bus from Toronto and went to Detroit. It’s an unbelievable show and to see your sister in it is even more special. I really didn’t think that it was going to be part of my journey. It took me five years to work up the courage to audition.
Why so long?
Kristin: I know it’s an Alison question, but I think it was just timing. She had musical-theater training and had always been a strong dancer. That’s a given. She is a strong dancer. So she did her musical-theater conservatory [training] and worked a lot and then the timing worked out and she was able to audition. But it does take courage to even come to the Rockette audition. It’s very intimidating. The day of the audition, there’s a line down the street. I always knew that if my sisters wanted to do this—if they put their mind to it—it was something that could be a possibility for them.
Did you have to attend the open audition? Did they know who you were?
Alison: Yes. I think by the time they looked at my résumé and saw my name, they had a suspicion that we were related, but I hadn’t met Linda Haberman beforehand. I hadn’t met anyone in the company.
Kristin: I think it was the same with Lisa. We have a unique last name; we’re twins. It’s not like I ever told Linda in passing, “Oh, I’ve got a twin sister! I’ve got another sister!” Like maybe she’s waiting for another sister to audition…[Laughs]
Lisa: I had to audition a couple of times, and it was also a timing thing for me. Kristin and I did have a job together right out of high school, even though we had been doing different things in our training. We were hired for Tokyo Disney. As our first professional dance experience, it was great; but I till wanted to pursue ballet, so after that job I continued to train in Canada at the National Ballet School in Toronto and at the School of Alberta Ballet in Calgary. I was dancing some with Alberta Ballet, and then I arrived at a point where I wanted to try something different. I got a job on a cruise ship. I had five months when I wasn’t doing anything else, so I decided to try it, and it opened my eyes to other possibilities. I definitely wanted to audition for the Rockettes; I auditioned three times and the third time I was cast. My first year I was in Providence and Boston. It was a great first experience to be on the road. It’s a little bit different from New York. Everybody’s in the same hotel. The support system’s a little bit different, and it’s a little bit of a smaller cast.