It’s one thing to work in a field you love as part of a globally-recognized organization, it’s quite another when you get to do it with your family beside you.
Just what is that like?
Ask the Jantzie sisters, Alison, Lisa and Kristin. All three of the girls, who grew up here in Lacombe, are members of the world-renowned precision dance company the Rockettes.
Sitting in her parent’s home in Lacombe, Alison, the youngest of the sisters, related what it is like to work with her siblings in such a highly recognized company.
“It’s kind of awesome,” said Alison. “It’s the first time in the 85-year history of the Rockettes that there have been three sisters (within the group).”
Alison went on to say having her sisters beside her helps her deal with the challenging world of the Rockettes.
She added that rehearsing with 80 dancers, most of whom already know most of the show, can be somewhat intimidating and having her sisters’ support was particularly helpful during her first season with the group.
The Jantzie sisters have a long history of dance before the Rockettes as well. Alison said she started dancing at Dancemakers Dance Studio here in Lacombe when she was only three years old.
She and her sisters continued pursuing dance all through their pre-school, elementary and high school years, said Alison.
As the girls got older and more skilled, they began taking more dance classes in different styles. Alison said the more they danced, the more they wanted to continue dancing.
“One class led to another,” said Alison. “One day became two days became all week.”
Eventually, the Jantzies moved to dancing at Dance Central in Red Deer.
To further their dance education, the sisters would also partake in a number of summer ballet dance programs. As her sisters were focusing on ballet, Alison said she ended up doing the same as she was along for the ride anyway.
“I just ended up in the car, so I auditioned too,” said Alison laughing.
By the end of high school, Alison, as well as her sisters, had decided to pursue dance as a career.
Lisa and Kristin had moved to Japan to dance with Tokyo Disney and Alison decided to attend the Randolph Academy for Performing Arts in Toronto.
“There was nothing I wanted to do more,” said Alison. She added that she knew a career in the performing arts would not be easy, but she also knew it was possible and chose to pursue her passion.
It was Kristin who first joined the Rockettes. She had gone to New York after returning from Tokyo to do an international student visa program. While there, she ended up auditioning for the Rockettes.
Alison said that, as her sister tells the story, Kristin did not at all feel prepared for her Rockettes audition.
“From what I’ve heard her say, she went to the audition and she wasn’t prepared for what Rockettes really were,” said Alison. “She’ll tell you, ‘I didn’t have the right shoes, I got lost on my way to the audition,’ it was just one of those days.”
Still, Kristin got a callback and ended up joining the Rockettes.
Alison recalled seeing her sister perform in Kristin’s first season with the Rockettes. She said she was overcome by emotion seeing her sister’s beauty and skill on stage with the rest of the group.
At the time Kristin auditioned for the troupe, her twin Lisa had also returned from Tokyo and was dancing with the Alberta Ballet.
After a couple seasons she moved to working with Royal Caribbean Cruiselines. Eventually, Lisa decided she would also like to try dancing with the Rockettes and after three auditions, was the second of the sisters to join the group.
Alison commented on her sister’s perseverance, saying Lisa’s determination was an example of the drive it takes to go far in a dance career.
“It’s just an example of, if they say no once, they aren’t going to say no forever,” she said.
Meanwhile, Alison had finished her program at Randolph and had moved on to working in musical theatre.
She also did a stint performing for Disney on their cruise line. She was the third and final Jantzie sister to join the Rockettes and has been dancing with them for three seasons now.
Now, the sisters are returning to Central Alberta in hopes of providing the same experiences to young dancers that they had growing up.
Through their dance camp, which is now in its third year, the sisters hope to share their favourite experiences as young dancers – learning from experienced professionals.
ID Inspire Dance begins on Aug. 19 and runs until Aug. 24. It caters to dancers ages seven and up and offers classes in three levels. The camp is held at Strive Dance Academy in Red Deer.