Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Linda Trott. Linda Trott Wonders, “I am wondering how to become a Rockette.” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Linda Trott!
Do you have any holiday traditions? For more than two million people each year, a special holiday tradition involves attending the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in New York City to see one of the most famous precision dance groups in the world: the Radio City Rockettes!
The Rockettes got their start as the "Missouri Rockets" in St. Louis way back in 1925. Their founder, Russell Markert, had seen a British dance group known as the "The Tiller Girls" perform in the Ziegfield Follies show in 1922. He was inspired to create his own American chorus line of glamorous, precision dancers who could entertain with great style and flair.
When Radio City Music Hall opened in New York City in 1932, the Rockettes (called the "Roxyettes" at the time) performed alongside 17 other acts. They were a huge hit that soon became a fixture at the venue.
Markert expanded the original 16-member group to 36 dancers, and their high-kicking, tap dancing show soon began to wow audiences daily. In fact, the Rockettes would perform four shows a day, 28 shows a week, 365 days a year at Radio City Music Hall for nearly the next 40 years.
In addition to their shows at Radio City Music Hall, the Rockettes have also performed at many other prestigious occasions, including military tours during World War II, the Super Bowl Halftime Show, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and presidential inaugurations. Their uniform look and precision high-kick routines are recognizable around the world.
Today, the annual Radio City Christmas Spectacular attracts over two million visitors each year. The Rockettes group now consists of 80 women split into two casts. As in the past, however, each cast only has 36 dancers on stage at one time.
For young girls who grow up taking dance lessons, becoming a Rockette one day is a popular dream. Each year, only a few spots in the cast open up, and there are hundreds of dancers who audition each year for the few open spots.
So what does it take to be a Rockette? First of all, you have to be between 5' 6" and 5' 10.5" tall. When people watch the Rockettes perform, many people think they're all the same height. That's not the case, but they're all fairly close in height, so their precision dancing creates the optical illusion that they're all the same height.
In addition to being a certain height, hopeful dancers must be able to show that they're extremely talented in several different types of dance, including ballet, jazz, tap, and modern dance. With a reputation like the Rockettes have, only the best of the best make the final cut.