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Behind the Curtain: The Rockettes

Mary Gibble

Is the Christmas Spectacular your favorite performance of the year?

LI: It's absolutely amazing. Christmas is a wonderful time of year in itself, and to be able to perform with the Christmas Spectacular, it's truly an honor to be part of the legendary line of the Rockettes. When you're on the stage and you can see the audience members gleaming with joy, it really is like 'oh my gosh, I get to do this for a living!'

Do the numbers in the Christmas Spectacular change every year?

JC: We keep traditional favorites. We have some fan favorites like The Living Nativity, we have The Parade of the Wood Soldier, and those have both been a part of the show since its inception in 1933, so that's an amazing piece of history. We also have new sections in the show just to keep it fresh and fun. [This year we have a number that] features a 50-foot LED screen that helps Santa take you to Times Square and his workshops at the North Pole. There's also a life-size double-decker bus, and the Rockettes take the audience on a tour through Manhattan.

 

What are your favorite numbers to dance in the Christmas Spectacular?

LI: My favorite part of the Christmas Spectacular is Let Christmas Shine. It's our final number, and we enter on a staircase and we're bedazzled in these gorgeous costumes with over 3,000 crystals a piece.

JC: My favorite is New York at Christmas and it's about mid-way through the show. We're on that double-decker bus and it's a real Big Apple Tours; we're on the bus, we hop off the bus, we go through the city, and the LED screen literally takes you everywhere. It's a fun visual for the audience and it's very playful for the Rockettes.

 

What is your favorite costume?

LI: My favorite costume is actually our 12 Days of Christmas costume. It reminds me of a cute little candy cane. It's a red- and white-striped bodice with a gold tutu skirt. At the top, it's mesh and covered in crystals as well, so it stays up while we're tapping. It's super cute and it definitely says holiday.

JC: I love our reindeer costume. It's a brown, crushed velvet unitard — which means it's just all one piece head to toe — and it has a nice high collar, and we have these jingle bells on our jackets, and, of course, we have hats with antlers coming out. It might not be the most comfortable costume, but I just think it looks so sleek...I think it's a really sharp way to open the show.

 

What's the best part about being a Rockette? What memories will you keep with you in the years to come?

LI: When you're on the stage and you're looking out into the audience and it might be your fourth show of the day and you're exhausted, but you look out there and you see people smiling at you with such enjoyment and you're making someone's holiday season, because not everyone gets the chance to see a show in general and especially like the Christmas Spectacular. It's an honor to be a part of it, and I feel truly blessed each and every time I take the stage.

JC: The rich history of the Rockettes, you can never wrap your head around the fact that you get to be this little part of it. We can see that in people's faces when we get to meet them, and it's not about us but it's about the history of the Rockettes, and that's a privilege and the feeling never goes away. The other great thing, I specifically remember my first year on tour, being on stage and being in the middle of a kick line and it was the last number of the show, and you get these little girls and they're in their little holiday dresses, and this one little girl in particular — I will remember it forever — she had gotten out of her seat and she had her hands on her hips and she was kicking with us. Tears wanted to come down my face. It was the sweetest thing ever. It's little moments like that you get to experience, and it's an amazing, amazing gift.

 

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