The History of the Rockettes
The group first kicked to life in 1925 as the "Missouri Rockets"
and made their show business debut in St. Louis, the realization of
a long-time dream of their creator, Russell Markert.
"I had seen the John Tiller girls in the Ziegfeld Follies
of 1922," Markert once reminisced. "If I ever got a chance
to get a group of American girls who would be taller and have longer
legs and could do really complicated tap routines and eye-high kicks...
they'd knock your socks off!"
At Radio City's opening night, on December 27, 1932, they did just
that. The Rockettes, discovered and brought to New York by consummate
showman S.L. (Roxy) Rothafel who first dubbed them the "Roxyettes,"
shared the stage with 17 diverse acts, among them the Flying Wallendas,
Ray Bolger and Martha Graham.
They were an instant sensation! Markert had created the quintessential
American chorus line - an exciting precision drill team with great
style. Starting with just 16 women, the numbers grew over the years
to what is now a 36-member Rockette kick line.
In 1933, Radio City featured a new movie and a lavish stage production
every week starring the Rockettes. Russell Markert's stringent requirements
never varied, and he continued to stage and choreograph productions
at the Music Hall until his retirement in 1971. This concept of
the dance line was to achieve absolute precision. The audience saw
36 Rockettes perform intricate routines, but always moving as "one
dancer." Everything - the height, the costumes and steps -
was kept completely identical. The illusion of uniform height is
maintained to this day by putting the tallest dancers in the center,
and gradually decreasing the height with the shortest women at either
Radio City Ambassadors
In addition to starring in the many Radio City Spectaculars that
have made the Rockettes world famous, the dance group has also spread
the magic of Radio City Music Hall far beyond New York. They've
toured in Broadway productions such as "Can Can," and
with performers including Peter Allen, Liberace, Ann-Margret, Chita
Rivera and Paula Abdul, among many others. They danced at the premieres
of "Miracle on 34th Street," "102 Dalmatians"
and the premiere engagement of Disney's "The Lion King."
Today, the Rockettes play an integral role in many Radio City theatrical
productions, special events and television productions. They star
annually in The Radio City Christmas Spectacular in New York and
around the country. They've tapped their way through the dreams
of thousands of young girls, many of whom hope to add their own
legs to that world-famous kick line.
In addition to performing across North America, each year the Rockettes
appear in the nationally televised Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade,
inspiring scores of young dancers nationwide. For several years,
they've opened the "Daytime Emmy Awards," broadcast live
from Radio City Music Hall on ABC, and they have appeared on "Late
Night with Conan O'Brien" and the "The Tonight Show with
Jay Leno." They are even the inspiration for their own Rockette
Since 1932, more than 3,000 women have danced as Rockettes. Each
year, in cities across America, hundreds of young women audition
to be members of the internationally known troupe. Radio City Rockettes
must be between 5'5" and 5'10" and must demonstrate proficiency
in tap, jazz, ballet and modern dance. They must also display a
radiant energy that will shine across the footlights to their audience.
Rockettes Are A National Treasure
The Radio City Rockettes perform with a signature precision that
perpetually delights every new audience. Indeed, these "dancing
daughters" - as their founder, Russell Markert always referred
to them - have not only persevered for more than 75 years, but are
thriving now more than ever.