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Interesting facts about the Rockettes

After seeing the Rockettes perform, I was interested in learning more about them. Here are some fun facts:

Rockettes must be at least 18 years old by August 31 to perform that holiday season

Santa's Reindeer - the Rockettes. Photo courtesy of the Rockettes.

Santa’s Reindeer – the Rockettes. Photo courtesy of the Rockettes.

They start working late September or early October and work through December. It’s a seasonal gig.

Their singing quality is less important than their ability to sing and dance at the same time (I initially thought they weren’t singing – that it was recorded. I guess I was wrong!). They must be able to do tap, jazz and ballet. They don’t have to be able to dance en pointe, but it helps.

The girls who play Clara are 10-14 years old and have to be 4’10” or smaller. They must have been dancing en pointe for at least a year.  There are 4 girls who play Clara.

Clara, a 10-14 year old girl. Photo courtesy of the Rockettes.

Clara, a 10-14 year old girl. Photo courtesy of the Rockettes.

The Christmas Spectacular also hires little people, who must also be 4’10” or shorter.

You can’t go to open audition for the principal roles – they use talent agents for those.

The first black Rockette was hired in 1988. The first East Asian Rockette was hired in 1985.

Their Santa suits weigh 40 pounds

Dancing Santas. Photo courtesy of the Rockettes.

Dancing Santas. Photo courtesy of the Rockettes.

Radio City Music Hall holds 6,000 people – and there are 5 Rockette shows a day from November to early January.

Rockettes have to be 5’6″ to 5’10 1/2″ tall. The tallest ones are in the middle of the dance lines. This gives the illusion they’re all the same height.

The Rockettes kick line. Photo courtesy of the Rockettes.

The Rockettes kick line. Photo courtesy of the Rockettes.

They do about 300 kicks per show each, from the toe to the eye level.

There are 80 Rockettes. Each show has 36, so there are two troupes.

Rockettes have 8 costume changes per show.

Parade of the Wooden Soldiers. Photo courtesy of the Rockettes.

Parade of the Wooden Soldiers. Photo courtesy of the Rockettes.

The Parade of the Wooden Soldier has been performed with the same choreography and costume design since 1933.

They do their own hair and make-up. Make-up consists of red lip stick and fake eyelashes. Their hair is in a French twist.

Their rehearsal space is at a church!

Check out our review of the Rockettes Radio City Christmas Spectacular.

4 comments to Interesting facts about the Rockettes

  • Erika

    I am waiting for them to be sued for Discrimination for their height requirements & hopefully the person will win. To have to be 5’6″ tall is horrible. The kick line will still work & the image will remain the same if they go smaller than 5’6″ on the ends. With the average US woman being 5’4″ or smaller, more than less cannot meet this height requirement. An incredible dancer can be bypassed because of their height? That’s so not right. I have banned seeing The Rockettes from my family years ago because of this. I am 5’1″ & my daughter is 5’3″ so even if we were amazing dancers, we would never be considered. That’s not right at all. Even law enforcement has gotten rid of height requirements realizing how discriminatory they were & The Rockettes should follow. We will not see any shows with them in it until the height requirement is banned…. Sorry.

  • jerseykids

    Erika – I hadn’t thought about it that way! There are lots of talented dancers in the required height range who don’t make the cut either. And they don’t take taller women (5’11” plus) either. They’re not looking for average height women, just as they’re not looking for excellent dancers who weigh what an average American woman weighs. And they’re not looking for male Rockettes. But I respect you sticking to your principles. You’re missing a good show.

  • jak

    Did they change the ehight requirement? I swear 20 years ago it was 5’2-5’4″ and there was even a song called too tall to be a rockette which the lead actress sang at our performance..

  • Sicotte Roger

    Sorry, I disagree. Not everyone gets to be a Rocket just like not everyone gets to be an NBA or NFL player. Some jobs have size requirements. It is what it is. I’m 6’2″ 300 lbs. I’ll never be a jockey or swimsuit model. In a world of participation trophies, sometimes we just have to accept we can’t all be the best just the best we could be.

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