When were the Rockettes formed?
I write this post with a heavy heart. A young girl named Skye was released from her battle with NUT carcinoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer. She was vibrant, loving, genuine and had a smile that could warm a room. I became aware of Skye's battle from a friend who taught her as an elementary student. Her family have been so strong and stayed positive through this unfathomably difficult time. They sing and pray and show love in their updates of Skye for those of us who were on the outside sending prayers and good vibes for Skye. Skye was granted her wish of watching the Rockettes in New York through the Make-a-Wish foundation, so I felt it was fitting to do my Daily Doodle today about Skye's Rockettes.
The origins of the Rockettes can be traced back to 1925 when impresario Russell Markert started the Missouri Rockets with a group of 16 women dancers. Markert wanted to achieve absolute precision and ultimate uniformity in the movements of the dancers. Originally, a Rockette had to be between 5’2″and 5’6 ½”, but today, she is between 5’6″and 5’10 ½” and has to be proficient in tap, modern, jazz and ballet. Over the years the troupe grew to a line of 36 dancers.
In their first year, the troupe traveled to New York City to perform in the Broadway show Rain or Shine, and were discovered by showman S.L. “Roxy” Rothafel. The “Missouri Rockets” were such an instant hit, that Rothafel asked Markert to form another line to replace the departing dancers.
While there were three separate dance troupes performing in New York City in the early 1930s, Rothafel moved two of the troupes to Radio City Music Hall for opening night on Dec. 27th, 1932. Described as “the hottest ticket in town,” more than 100,000 people requested admission, but only 6,200 could gain admission. Rothafel first dubbed the troupes as the “Roxyettes,” who performed a routine to the song “With a Feather in Your Cap” on opening night. In 1934, the “Roxyettes” officially became the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes.
The Rockettes were among the first entertainers to volunteer for the United Service Organizations (USO) after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the United States entered World War II. They made their first TV appearance on Wide, Wide World in 1957 and also performed for the first time in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade that year, which became a NYC tradition.
In 1977, the Rockettes appeared at Harrah’s in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. Their precision dancing took the west coast by storm as they went on to play to sold-out crowds in Las Vegas. in 1978, Radio City was slated to close due to financial problems. The Rockettes lead the crusade to save the theatre. In 1979, Radio City was designated as a New York City landmark, saving it from destruction.
More than 10,000 women shared in the legacy by performing as a Radio City Rockette when Radio City Music Hall marked it's 75th Anniversary of the Rockettes. In 2001, the Rockettes were invited to perform at George W. Bush’s inauguration in Washington D.C., where they danced their way down the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. In 2005, the Rockettes performed their second presidential inauguration.
In 2006, Linda Haberman became the first woman named solo director and choreographer for the Rockettes. Trained at the School of American Ballet, Haberman was in the original cast of Bob Fosse’s Dancin’, then went on to become his assistant choreographer. Haberman's vision for the Rockettes was to transform them into a contemporary dance company. Her amazing choreography brought the troupe to new heights, and demanded superb dance technique as well as true athleticism. Haberman created the first touring productions of the Christmas Spectacular, which visited over 80 cities in the United States during their time on the road until their tour ended after the 2014 season.
From the moment they first appeared in 1925, the Rockettes have been American icons. They are symbols of what you can achieve if you move with passion, dream big, work hard and most importantly, believe in yourself... it's no wonder Skye held them fondly in her heart. #skyestrong