A Head of the Harbor native is proving that dreams really do come true.
Courtney File, 24, is among the newest members of the Rockettes who are kicking their way through the holiday season, performing multiple shows in Radio City Music Hall’s “Christmas Spectacular.”
Seeing the Rockettes staple at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan has been an annual tradition for File since she was 6 years old.
“I just fell in love with it immediately,” she said.
Her parents were nervous about taking her and her brother Connor when they were younger, but she said her parents told her she was mesmerized by the show.
When the curtain came down, she turned to her mother and said, “That’s what I want to do, and it never changed my whole life.”
The 2016 Smithtown High School East graduate attended Chorus Line Dance Studio in St. James until she was 11. She then started training at the Broadway Dance Center in Manhattan, where she was part of its Children & Teens Program for four years.
File said her parents, Richard and Wendy, have always been supportive of her dreams and would drive her into the city when she was in middle and high school.
“My parents have been unbelievable since I was younger and really decided that I wanted to commit myself to dance,” she said.
The dancer was also taking acting classes in addition to the CTP program. Sometimes she would audition or take a master class.
While she juggled a busy schedule, after being on Smithtown’s kickline team in middle school, she could not be on the Whisperettes, the high school kickline team at Smithtown East. While she wanted to, she said it would have been difficult with her schedule, and she would have missed some practices and games.
“That was probably one of the hardest things that I had to give up,” File said.
She added once in a while she was able to catch a game to see the kickline team perform
“I always supported them, and I thought they were great,” File said. “It was so fun to sometimes be able to watch.”
Standing 5 feet, 8 inches tall, her height fits in perfectly with the Rockettes’ range of 5 feet, 5 inches to 5 feet, 10 1/2 inches. The minimum requirements were recently changed from the previous 5 feet, 6 inches tall.
File, who was part of the Rockettes Conservatory program this summer, said among her fellow rookie Rockettes are a few dancers who were able to audition due to the new height requirements.
“They have made a lot of amazing strides to open up the opportunities to a bunch of different women this year,” she said, adding 17 of the 18 new dancers were from the conservatory program.
File said she was honored to be invited to participate in the program, which enables dancers at no cost to work with the Rockettes as well as performers with Alvin Ailey Dance Theater and Syncopated Ladies, a female tap dance band.
“It was a really awesome opportunity that the Rockettes gave, to give us a real life experience of what their day-to-day kind of looks like.”
This year wasn’t her first audition, though. She first aimed to be a Rockette when she was 18, and she was cut. In total, she has auditioned six times for the coveted spot.
“It was my dream, and I couldn’t give up on it,” she said.
She was home with her mother and brother when she received the call telling her she had made it. File said she kept asking her mother and brother if it really just happened.
“It was an unbelievable moment that I will never forget for the rest of my life,” she said.
A typical day for File now involves waking up every morning in her apartment and stretching. She said eating enough is also important as the dancers burn a lot of calories.
As a part of the gold cast, she performs in the evenings. The number of shows in one day can vary, and she recently had her first four-show day.
The “Christmas Spectacular” began Nov. 18 and runs through Jan. 2, meaning dancers worked Thanksgiving and will be performing Christmas and New Year’s Day, too. Fine said she doesn’t mind as the cast and crew have become like family to her since they have been working regularly together from the beginning of October.
She added she’s lucky that her own family lives close to the city, and it’s easy for them to come to Manhattan to see the show. They have attended the show three times so far
Among her favorite dances is a lyrical number called “Dance of the Frost Fairies,” where each of the 36 Rockettes has a different costume that includes fairy wings that easily work during the complex, athletic number.
Another highlight, Fine said, was performing in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and she also attended the premiere of the Hallmark Channel movie “A Holiday Spectacular,” which features two current Rockettes with speaking parts.
While living a dream come true, File had advice for young people regarding their goals.
“Never give up,” the Rockette said. “Every day in the audience, I see little girls that are looking up at the stage like how I did when I was 6 years old. Just work hard and never give up. Dreams do come true. I’m very lucky to be able to say that. Just keep going because all the hard work will be worth it.”