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Former Rockette now calls Cape home

Dancer spent 10 years on Radio City Music Hall stage

December 22, 2009

A Cape Coral resident of six years had the opportunity to perform as a Rockette for 10 years in New York City where she was born and raised.

Sandy Saracione began her dancing career when she was 2 1/2 years old due to her mother's dream of having her daughter become a dancer.

Saracione, an only child, said when her mother was a little girl her family did not have enough money to put her in dancing classes due to the Great Depression.

Article Photos

Michael Pistella
Sandy Saracione, 71, is a resident of Cape Coral and remembers fondly her days as a Rockette.

"When I was born, that was going to be her dream come true because she always wanted to be a dancer," she said. "I was going to be the dancer that she wanted to be."

Saracione said her dad also had big dreams for her as a dancer when she was a young child.

"My dad said, 'One day my daughter will be on the great stage,'" she said.

Since Saracione began participating in dance classes at a very young age, she explained that her childhood revolved around learning new dances week in and week out.

"I had no childhood besides dancing," she said.

Saracione attended a performing arts high school in New York City where she was the valedictorian of her class. The day she graduated from high school she went to an audition later that afternoon for the Radio City Music Hall.

"There must have been hundreds of us dressed the same way," she said about the audition.

At the age of 17, she was chosen as one of the Rockettes, which was the same day she graduated from high school.

"I had four days before I opened for the music hall," she said after she completed the auditions.

She explained that the costume she first wore when she became a Rockette felt like it weighed a ton.

"They never used them again after that," Saracione said. "It was like picking up 50 pounds, but it was beautiful."

She explained that every single one of the 36 girls who performed had their own costumes. She said the stage was built on three elevators and the curtain opened with a touch of a button, which displayed a different design for the various scenes.

"The Radio City Music Hall is the most beautiful place in the world, and it certainly gives you the feeling of any holiday," Saracione said.

When she started performing she worked seven days a week for five weeks straight earning a total of $98 a week, which included a stage show and a movie performance.

Saracione said she has kept the newspapers from her performing days throughout the years, so she can revisit those memories. She said to attend the show when she was a Rockette was only $1.25 for tickets for both the show and movie.

"It's amazing to see how much things change in life," she said.

She said she enjoyed performing in the Christmas Spectacular the most while she was a Rockette.

Saracione was one of the three kings in the Christmas Spectacular, she said, which she remembers very clearly.

"It makes you believe this is what Christmas is about," she said. "You just had that feeling of believing when you were there."

The Christmas Spectacular began with the nativity scene, which she said meant a great deal more to her.

"When you did the nativity, it was like going to church," she said about the Christmas Spectacular.

Saracione said all the animals that were used in the production were real.

After the last Christmas Spectacular, Saracione had the opportunity to walk the animals around Rockefeller Center, along with the other Rockettes.

"It was nice to take a little walk around the big tree," she said about leading the camels in a circle.

She said the music for the Christmas Spectacular was amazing.

"The orchestra was phenomenal, it made you cry," she said.

After reminiscing about being a Rockette, she said her best memory was simply just being in the theater.

She said being a Rockette was a wonderful job for 10 years.

"It was a very prestigious job," she said. "The music hall was like a city, your own little city."

"It is very nice to be respected as a world famous person," Saracione said. "It's a beautiful thing, once a Rockette, you have made it."

"It was the most beautiful time in my life," she continued. "It really was, I wouldn't have wanted to do anything else, really."

After she stopped dancing as a Rockette, she opened her own dancing school and then later retired from dancing and began selling real estate.

Changing careers was great for her because she ended up falling in love and marrying her boss.

She said she married her boss, the man of her dreams, 11 years ago.

"I adore him," Saracione said. "He is one in a million, he goes with anything that makes me happy."

She said his motto is, "You want it, you can have it."

The Saraciones moved to Cape Coral six years ago from New York after they designed and built their house to make sure it was big enough to "house all the beautiful things that we have," she explained.

"The house definitely shows where we come from, it is not a normal house," she said. "People think it is a museum."

Saracione explained that she and her husband have quite a combination of everything, which she said is very hard for them to even comprehend what is in their collection.

She said those who come to her home could spend a week looking at everything and they still would not see it all.



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