Each year when the holiday season comes around the celebrations, gift giving, and experiences seem to become bigger, grander, and more celebratory. New traditions and experiences come about each season, yet it’s the classic traditions that stand the test of time year after year. One such classical holiday experience is watching, in awe, the glittering and synchronized movements of the Radio City Rockettes.
In honor of this beloved holiday show, we wanted to take a moment to share some historical facts of the long-legged ladies!
The Rockettes Have Been High-Kicking For Nearly a Century!
As we mentioned, some holiday traditions manage to stay relevant and engaging regardless of the time period, and the Rockettes are exactly that! The chorus line got its start in 1925, founded by Russell Markert – the chief choreographer, image-preserver, and “father figure” of the troupe. He retired in 1971 but the Rockette’s continue to carry on!
Some Things Have Changed
Initially, each Rockette was required to be between 5’2” and 5’6”. Today, the girls are required to be between 5’6” and 5’10”. In the beginning, there were 16 ladies, but today the troupe is at a whopping 36 dancers!
The “Roxyettes” Weren’t Always at Radio City
Though Radio City is synonymous with the Rockettes these days, in the very beginning the Rockettes were called the Roxyettes, and their home wasn’t yet Radio City. It wasn’t until 1934, almost a decade after their creation, that they officially became the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes.
They Played an Important Role in WWII
During WWII, performing acts had the chance to do their part for the war effort by entertaining the troops, and the Rockettes were one of the first groups to volunteer for the USO. They traveled abroad to produce wartime shows as close as New York City and as far away as Copacabana.
As TV Became More Popular, The Rockettes Made Their Debut
Today we take it for granted that we can watch the Rockettes on television, but this was not always the case! It wasn’t until the 1950s that the ladies first appeared on TV. They were presented on Wide, Wide, World and also performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade which was televised, in 1957.
Rockettes On The Road!
It wasn’t until the 1970s that the Rockettes were finally able to take the show on the road! Not everyone could afford to take a trip to New York City, but if the Rockettes were in town, you could bet people went to the shows in droves. In 1977, the high-kickers dazzled at Harrah’s in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. They began performing at sold-out shows in Las Vegas, even opening for Liberace in 1979.
Their Talents Attracted More Talent and Fame Over The Years
Everyone was enchanted by their high-kicks and synchronicity, and many a celebrity watched, danced, and worked with them. In the early decades, Cary Grant surprised them at Radio City, and in the 80s the girls got to perform with Ginger Rogers and work alongside Carol Lawrence and Liberace. Sammy Davis Jr. was such a fan he watched their show night after night and eventually got on stage to dance with them!
Today, The Dancer’s Wear Custom Dance Shoes
The team at Radio City became dissatisfied that the audience was only hearing the pre-recorded taps rather than the real thing. Instead of having the girls wear wired microphones and belt packs, which would cause costume change problems, top engineers were hired to find a better solution. Today, the girls wear custom dance shoes that feature a cavity within the heel that has a sound transmitter. Now, the audience gets to hear every single, authentic, rhythmic tap of all 72 feet.
Now, It’s Time For YOU to Enjoy!
By this point, you’re somewhat of a Rockette expert! It’s time to take that expertise to Radio City Music Hall and experience the Christmas Spectacular live. New York City is downright magical during the holiday season, and Radio City Hall is a holiday wonderland. You can get access to discounted tickets right here at 365 Tickets USA. Happy holidays and enjoy the show!