Since 1932, the Radio City Rockettes have been kickin’ high across the stage at Radio City Music Hall in Midtown Manhattan. This dance company, founded in 1925 in St. Louis by Russell Markert, originally performed as the “Missouri Rockets”. They were then brought to New York City a few years later and were named the “Roxyettes” after their namesake owner, Samuel Roxy Rothafel. Not long after, they were renamed the “Rockettes”.
The troupe is known for their perfect position and precision, wowing the crowd with their incredible talent, grace and let’s not forget to mention, their mile-long legs (all Rockettes have to be at least 5’6 to make it into the company). They are especially known for their kickline, where the girls are arranged in a straight line across the stage, kicking in sync at eye level – a truly impressive site! The key to this optical illusion is placing the tallest of the group at the center of the line to give the illusion they are all the same height.
Their main show, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, is a homage to the holiday season in New York City, and is performed from early November through the end of the year. To this day, still two numbers from the original production remain are performed – “The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” and “The Living Nativity”. “The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” is a choreographed piece where the women are dressed as wooden soldiers and march in a number of intricate and precise line formations, resembling military stances. At the end, a cannon knocks them down, each falling perfectly into each other’s arms.
The second mainstay of the choreographed numbers, the “Living Nativity” is perhaps one of my favorite scenes (aside from the Nutcracker with the Dancing Bears scene). During this scene, intricately draped members of the cast, prance across the stage with live animals, reenacting the day Jesus was born. It is a moving, impressive rendition of the nativity scene brought to life, and a perfect way to end the show and get its audience members in the spirit for the holiday season.
Overall, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular is one of my favorite holiday activities to take part in this time of year. It is one my grandmother used to take my mom to and one I’ve made a tradition for the past several years and hope to continue to do for years to come.