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Dream comes true: Local dancer joins Rockettes

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SUGAR HILL -- For some girls, dancing is a childhood fantasy that quickly loses its grandeur after mom starts forcing them to attend lessons.

And the Radio City Rockettes? Forget about it. They are an idolized dream that is out of reach.

But for Kelsey Wildman, 18, of Sugar Hill, this dream became reality.

Wildman, of the Susan B. Chambers School of Dance, is one of three women offered a position with the Rockettes and will be performing on their dance line this fall.

"Just the name of Rockettes, to have that name on me is a huge honor because it's history," Wildman said. "I'm following in the footsteps of women who have gone through this too. It's like a tradition, a culture, especially in New York. Everybody (there) knows who the Rockettes are."

The Rockettes are an elite dance group with Radio City Music Hall in New York City known for their signature kick line and tall, beautiful women.

When Wildman received an unknown phone call from a 212 area code the week she graduated from North Gwinnett High School, she literally danced with joy.

"It's surreal," Wildman said. "I didn't think I was going to get it at all, honestly."

Jennifer Paige Chambers, one of Wildman's dance instructors and a former Rockette, said Wildman can expect a lot of hard work and long rehearsals with the Rockettes, but a sense of unity and prestige will develop.

Wildman's mother, Lisa, believes her daughter's dancing has been a journey for their family, who have constantly worked behind the scenes with Wildman during stage performances.

Lisa Wildman said she is eager to watch Wildman dance from the audience for the first time.

"When your kid gets a dream, it's pretty amazing because that's all that we want for them, as parents, is to be able to have what they want out of their life, and it's happening for her," Lisa Wildman said while fighting back tears. "And she's worked really hard."

Wildman joined the Susan B. Chambers School of Dance when she was 11 years old after moving to Sugar Hill from Mississippi. Chambers said Wildman had a natural talent and love for dance, which was unusual in girls her age.

"I knew at 11, she just had legs going everywhere kicking and she just had that something that you need to go on if you want to," Chambers said. "She's just a gem and when she's on stage you can't take your eyes off of her. She's one of those performers that you're just watching her and you're really drawn to her."

Lisa Wildman said she is proud of her daughter's unyielding dedication and is thrilled to see Wildman's hard work pay off.

"We laugh about it, but I think she really will go on," Chambers said.

"We'll see her on Broadway besides Rockettes. She just has a whole huge career ahead of her, and this is just a stepping stone."