They have a long-legged legacy to uphold: More than 30 years after their mothers kicked off their tap shoes and turned in their sequins, Kerri Pearsall, Lynn Sullivan, Cathy Beatty DiMarco and Carol Beatty Kolins are following in their maternal high steps performing with the Rockettes at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall. The luster may not be so great for this second generation—their mothers, after all, danced four live shows a day, almost every day in the ’50s, while today’s Rockettes work only sporadically—but the cheers of the Christmas crowds remain the same.
Pressured to perform? Ha! “I think I came out kicking,” says Pearsall, somewhere in her 20s (Rockettes, they explain, don’t do ages). “You try not to tell your children what to do,” says her mother, Margaret, of Bellmore, N.Y., who paraded with the Wooden Soldiers from 1951 to 1954. “But I couldn’t help but hope that one of them would be a Rockette.”
Lynn Sullivan became a Rockette-in-training as a tot. She recalls how her mother, Joan, who high kicked from 1954 to 1957 (and still fits into a Rockette’s costume), staged family photos back in River Edge, N.J. “You won’t find any picture from my childhood where we weren’t posed like Rockettes.”
The Sullivans’ saturation was nothing compared with the coaching in the Queens apartment where Catherine and Carol Beatty grew up. With a mother, Claire, who pranced across the stage, and a father, Norman, who played the trumpet in the orchestra pit, it was almost a given that the sisters would do something at the music hall. “You know you can have children and they’re not the right size, but these were perfect Rockettes,” says Claire, a Rockette from 1947 to 1954. “I’m the tallest,” says Carol, who at 5’8½” is at the outer limits of the height requirement. “But I made it.”
So, hopes her mother, will another Beatty. Ever on the lookout to perpetuate her dancing dynasty, Mama Claire is now eyeing Cathy’s 11-month-old daughter, Elena Claire. “She could be the first third-generation Rockette,” Claire insists. “She kicks a lot and she’s got great legs.”