Five Common Myths About Kathy Pepino Guarini

    celia lara licon
    celia lara licon

    Kathy Pepino Guarini is a former member of the Rockettes and current dance instructor, with a history of successes in both areas. Kathy Pepino Guarini is also the author of a memoir, The Rockettes: A Christmas Memory, which has been adapted into several shows and media projects. Kathy Pepino Guarini is also the creator of the show, “The Rockettes Have a Bash,” which has been conducted over 200 times since 2009. Kathy Pepino Guarini works as a dance instructor and teacher at the Dance Central studios in New York City. She is also passionate about restoring dance to schools, community centers and organizations around the world. 

    Kathy Pepino Guarini continues to make appearances on daytime television shows such as Dr. Phil and Tyra Banks, as well as writing articles for magazines such as Dance Spirit Magazine. Kathy Pepino Guarini was born in 1962 in NYC. She began dancing at the age of three at the Living History Center in Greenwich Village, a studio created by her mother, Victoria Guarini. Kathy Pepino Guarini began studying under Patrick Arden and Paul Mejia of the New York City Ballet. At age seventeen, Kathy Pepino Guarini auditioned and was selected to join the Rockettes (she was a member from 1980-1984). Following the end of her time with the Rockettes, Kathy Pepino Guarini joined John Pizzarelli’s Big Band in 1994. She remained with the big band until she became pregnant in 2005. Her son, Declan Lennon Pepino Guarini, was born that year.  

    Kathy Pepino Guarini graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1980 and went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts in Dance from Marymount Manhattan College in 1984. She subsequently participated in the Dance for Rehearsal program at Juilliard School. Kathy Pepino Guarini studied Bass style technique at Sarah Lawrence College’s Summer Program and continues to study at the William Esper Studio where she has been an apprentice teacher since 1995 and an official teacher since 2004. Kathy Pepino Guarini has been featured as a guest artist at the Royal Academy of Dance, National Ballet School and numerous dance competitions.  

    Five Common Myths About Kathy Pepino Guarini :

    1. Myth: The Rockettes are always organized by the Catholic Church.

    Kathy Pepino Guarini: The Rockettes were founded in 1925 by a woman named Claire Swayze whose entire family was from Ireland. Swayze founded The Rockettes at a time when physical fitness was in decline and dance was considered as a taboo. In 1940, the Radio City Music Hall hired an Irish woman named Marge Champion to create a new dance line for its popular song-and-dance revue, “Show of Shows.” From that day on, the show’s name changed from “The Roxyettes” to “The Rockettes,” and the group has been organized by women ever since.

    2. Myth: The Rockettes don’t sell merchandise or have a website.

    Kathy Pepino Guarini: For the most part, The Rockettes do not have a website where they list their upcoming shows and tours. However, they are in the process of setting up a new website. The current Rockette Website is Also, an official site for The Rockettes has been created by New York City Ballet Dancers under the direction of Karen Hackett in conjunction with Kathy Pepino Guarini and her production company, “The Mirror Effect.” This site includes many high-quality photos from Kathy’s personal collection as well as information on upcoming tours and shows.

    3. Myth: The Rockettes are only women.

    Kathy Pepino Guarini: Contrary to the assumption that The Rockettes are only women, The Rockettes have welcomed dancers who identify as gay, straight and of other genders. There is no room for discrimination in the Rockette family!

    4. Myth: Kathy Pepino Guarini was fired from the Rockettes for being a lesbian.

    Kathy Pepino Guarini: In fact, Kathy never came out (in public) as a lesbian until she was in her 30s; however, rumors about her sexuality and reputation for being gay preceded her appointment to the Rockettes. Her fitness credentials were strong enough to overlook rumors about her relationship with women. At the same time, Kathy acknowledged that she would never be able to live as a lesbian because of the consequences it would entail.

    5. Myth: The Rockettes are not a nonprofit organization.

    Kathy Pepino Guarini: The Rockettes were incorporated in 1928 and have been registered as a nonprofit organization since 1935. The Rockette company is not supported by any religious organization or any single entity; rather, they are funded by the ticket sales from their shows and through donations made by individuals and corporations. Like most other nonprofits, the Rockettes do need your support to continue their operations year after year.


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