Noteworthy Performance

Re-Printed from New Castle News, Thursday, February 10, 2000

Neshannock Township teen’s part in Radio City holiday show recognized by Los Angeles Times reviewer:

A dream came true for a 14-year old New Castle girl who went to California and danced with the world famous Rockettes.  Christina Karambikis, daughter of Spiro and Patty Kardambiis of Neshannock Township, spent eight weeks in Los Angeles performing in “The Radio Ciy Chrismas Spectacular” with the Rockettes and other professional singers and dancers.

 The show was presented in the Universal Amphitheteartre with capacity crowds of more than 6,200 people.  Christina, whi is always nervous before a performance said, “I couldn’t see them so I didn’t worry about them.”

As a member of the cast, Christina’s schedule was so busy that, although there was a swimming pool available at the apartment complex where she stayed, she didn’t have time to swim.  Her mother Patty, a nurse at Neshannock High School, stayed with Christina ain the apartment complex that contained everything they needed including a grocery store and beauty parlor.  When Patty flew home for two weeks to be with the rest of her family, Christina’s grandmother, Terri Neff stayed with her.

A ninth-grader at Neshannock High School, Christina continued her education in Los Angeles using the suitcase full of books she broutht with her.

“School was three hours a day.  I was the oldenst and there were three other kids and a teacher.  I had a French tutor, too”, Christina explained.  “It was fun, but it was hard because everything had to be done in a short period of time.”

Children working in shows are permitted to work no more than nine hours a day and three hours of school counts as work.  Although she only appeared in half of the 52 performances of “The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Christan had to be at the theatre and ready.

The 90-minute extravaganza included 18 Rockettes, 22 singers and dancers, four children, an ice-scating couple, six children, and Santa himself.  The Los Angeles Times gave the production a glowing review  that included the name of only one of the children.  It said, “No Chrismas is complete with tthe Nut-cracker, and this show’s Cliff Notes version features Christina Karddambikis executing nimble pointe work amid adorable giant dancing bears.”

Many cleebrities came to see the show and one evening Christina’s father and frandmother sat next to Natalie Cole, who told them how much she enjoyed Christina’s performance.

Christina and Patty had nothing but positive experiences with the Rockettes and other professionals.  Christina said they were always friendly and helpful and did thoughtful things for her.  She sould often find fifts in her room including clips for her hair, drawing paper, and a pillow that said, “YOU ARE A STAR.”  The man who played the prince in the production gaver her a necklace with a Nutcracker charm.  One of the dancers told her, “This is as close as you can get to Broadway without being there.”

“When the gifts were exchanged at Christmas, part of the fun was trying to guess who gave you the gift,” Christina said.  “Mine was one of the dancers.  It was fun.  I was a secret Santa for one of the singers.”

On Christmas Eve, Patty and Christina decorated the artificial plant in their room with lights and put Christmas gifts under it.  On Christmas Day, mother and daughter went to Rodeo Drive to look in the windows of the stores before going to a theater to see “Toy Story II.”

“Nothing was decorated,” Christina said.  “It didn’t look or feel like Christmas except in a few shopping malls.  The worse part was I missed my family, my dad, my sister Anna, my brother Christopher, and everone.”

Christina, who was in California from Nov. 9 until Jan. 2, said she was glad to get home.

“I was happy to see the snow.  I was ready for winter.  And I was ready for our family to celebrate Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s.  We celebrated them all when I got home.  We celbrated Thanksgiving befor I left.”

After performing in a New York City Dance Alliance Competition with the Ludovici Dance Academy, Christina was given the opportunity to audition for the Radio City production.  By winning the part, Christina was one of only four young ballerinas in the United States to perform in the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular.”

Christan has made a scrapbook of her adventure that begins with her “going away” party at the Ludovici Dance Academy where she was trained since she was 5 years old.  The party hosted by Kelli Ludovici-Grady and Tracy Syphard-Shaner included a cake decorated with pink ballet slippers.

“My favorite thing everyday in California was going to the mailbox to see if there were letters from my friends.”