What are the Rockettes?

11/20/2023



AN AMERICAN ICON  the Rockettes 


The Rockettes: History and Curiosities of This Great American Icon

The Rockettes are an enduring icon of American performance, a precision dance troupe that epitomizes elegance, synchronization, and energy. Their journey is intertwined with the history and politics of the USA, warranting a deeper exploration.

From the Beginnings to Present: A Brief History of the Rockettes

Their story dates back to the 1920s when they were founded by Russell Markert as the "Missouri Rockets". Since then, they have traversed decades of success, becoming a distinctive presence in the entertainment world.
The group gained significant fame in the 1930s when they moved to New York and were renamed the "Rockettes". This major move to Broadway marked the beginning of an era of spectacular performances and breathtaking choreography. The Rockettes soon became the hallmark of Radio City Music Hall, the legendary New York theater, and their impact quickly spread beyond the city limits.

During the 1940s, the Rockettes experienced growing popularity with their performances during the Christmas shows at Radio City Music Hall. Their most famous routine, the "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers", captured the attention of audiences of all ages, becoming a holiday season classic.

The 1960s saw the Rockettes evolve further, introducing new choreography and dance styles. They embraced the cultural influences of the era, incorporating elements of popular music and contemporary dance movements into their performances. This innovative approach helped keep their act fresh and relevant on the entertainment scene.


The Rockettes are not just a group of extraordinarily talented dancers; they are also a symbol of unity and precision. Their hallmark is precision in motion, with legs moving in perfect harmony, creating a spectacle of synchronized beauty. The performances of the Rockettes are characterized by impeccable lines, elaborate dance steps, and an extraordinary sense of timing.


In the 1980s, the Rockettes continued to solidify their presence in pop culture with television appearances, performances at major national events, and even roles in films and TV shows. Their fame grew internationally, making the name Rockettes synonymous with the very essence of American showmanship.


Over the years, the Rockettes have faced challenges and cultural shifts, yet they have remained a beacon of excellence in the dance world. Their story is inherently linked to the evolution of American culture, and their influence endures through generations of audiences captivated by their grace and skill.


In the 2020s, the Rockettes continued their tradition of precision performances and impeccable choreography, despite challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, many theater productions and live shows were disrupted due to public health restrictions.

Famously associated with the Christmas performances at New York's Radio City Music Hall, the Rockettes also faced adaptations due to social distancing measures. In an effort to keep the tradition alive, new modes of performance were temporarily implemented, adapted to the extraordinary circumstances.


Today, the Rockettes are a living heritage of American performance, an icon of elegance and talent that continues to capture the imagination of anyone fortunate enough to witness one of their extraordinary performances. Their history is a testament to the intrinsic power of passion and dedication in the world of entertainment, a reflection of how talent and determination can transcend time, enchanting audiences of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.



5 Must-Know Facts About the Rockettes

In a single day, the Rockettes can execute up to 650 kicks. Each show requires an average of over 160 kicks, and during peak audience times, they perform more than four shows a day. It’s a quick sum.

More than 3,000 women have been part of the Rockettes. Since 1933, the year of the first Christmas Spectacular, over 3,000 women have contributed to this exceptional and wonderful cultural phenomenon. It's a true sisterhood!

The Rockettes do their own hair and makeup for performances. They usually wear a deep red lipstick (MAC Red or MAC Russian Red, both with bluish tones that stand out under bright lights!), false eyelashes, and their signature hairstyle.

The Rockettes' shoes are mic'd. Anyone who has wondered how the whole audience can hear every step of the tap dance routines now has the answer. The costume designer removes the heel and sole of their LaDuca brand tap shoes and inserts a custom leather sole that adheres to the bottom of the shoe.
From this process, a new heel is created, allowing for a special cavity inside it, where the sound transmitter is placed, helping to pick up the sounds of the Rockettes' steps. To give you an idea of the scale, during the Christmas Spectacular, as many as 14,096 batteries are used!).

There are no less than 36 digital projectors scattered throughout Radio City Music Hall, where the Rockettes perform. Ever wondered how the entire hall lights up during the Christmas Spectacular? It's thanks to the famed 36 digital projectors that cast images onto the proscenium arches of Radio City, creating settings from the starry night of Bethlehem.


EDITOR'S NOTE: If you want to attend the show, the advice is to book well in advance or to prefer performances in the afternoon hours.

 


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