The Radio City Rockettes rev up holiday fashion

February 2, 2009

What to expect this season! (Hint: It’s not just a NYC phenomenon anymore.)

“Can we get a break from smiling?” asks Jacquelyn Dowsett at the DS fashion shoot, before bursting into a fit of laughter with her castmates. Decked out in silver high-heeled shoes, with legs that almost touch the ceiling, the Radio City Rockette needed a minute to let her face and kicking legs rest after three hours of posing for photos. And she should take a break while she can get one. Dowsett is one of 32 Rockettes who will fuse jazz, tap and ballet in this year’s Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. Starting November 7, she’ll be spreading cheer round-the-clock (as in 30 shows a week!).


This isn’t the same Christmas Spectacular your grandmother saw. “The show is totally re-imagined each year,” says Katie Martin, a returning Rockette. Along with the legendary “Living Nativity” and “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” (routines that have dazzled audiences since 1933), this year’s crowd will get something fresh: the ladies will board a real Gray Line double-decker bus before going with the audience on a dancing, musical “tour” to famous NYC landmarks, all in the comfort of the 6,000-seat Radio City Music Hall. The number ends with live explosive fireworks!


The Rockettes aren’t just going to be driving in a bus onstage, but they’ll also actually be touring the country! The brand-new arena tour will be hitting 23 cities before the new year begins. The updated elements—different lighting and costumes, a flying Santa and a 360-degree viewing—all encompass that traditional Rockette spirit.

“It’s the most wonderful experience, whether you’re seeing the show around the U.S. or in NYC,” notes Martin. “A Rockette is a Rockette no matter where she is.”


It’s this eternal optimism and buoyant energy that’s made the troupe more than just a precision kick-line for the past 76 years. Even Dowsett, after asking for a smile break, couldn’t seem to wipe one off her face. The joy this job creates in the dancers is palpable, and it translates to the stage.


Come this fall and winter these NYC-based Rockettes, as well as their arena-tour sisters, will have a lot of kicking to do. But it’s a safe bet that, no matter how tired the dancers are, their smiles will be genuine and of course, perfectly in sync.