Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, chances are you've heard of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the legendary Radio City Rockettes. Known for their long legs and impossibly perfect synchronization, these ladies are the crème de la crème when it comes to dancers. Just as their season started (the show debuted on November 11 this year) we caught up with them to learn a routine and get a taste of what it's really like to be a Rockette for an hour.
They took the time to teach us non-dancers (all members of the #ShapeSquad staff) the routine they'll do at the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in NYC tonight. The video is taken straight from our Facebook Live broadcast of the lesson—meaning it hasn't been edited one bit, and you get to see us fumble through the moves and eventually perfect the full combination (well, not exactly perfect). Watch our experience and learn it yourself, then do it along with the Rockettes tonight during the lighting ceremony at 7 p.m. ET on NBC. (Better yet, learn it in some of Beyoncé's Holiday Lemonade apparel line.)
We know you're wondering what it takes to be one of those girls on stage. That's why we tapped Rockette dance captain Traci Reszetylo, who taught us the routine, to answer all the questions you asked during our Facebook live.
SHAPE: What are the audition requirements and what is the process like?
Traci Reszetylo: The audition process is very intense. The very first thing they do is measure your height, because you need to be between 5 feet 6 inches and 5 feet 10 and 1/2 inches. The audition begins with a jazz combination, followed by a tap combination, and lastly, a kick/turn combination. At the end of each of those steps, they make cuts. On the second day, you learn additional choreography. It is a very intense process. It's all about the details! (P.S. The Rockettes also gave us their leg workout, and, yeah, it's tough.)
SHAPE: What's the practice and performance schedule like?
TR: Very rigorous. We rehearse for six hours a day, six days a week, for six weeks before the show opens. It takes approximately two full days to learn each number and we only have a few weeks to get through the show and perfect it, so it is a very quick process. It's physically and mentally challenging during rehearsal, but totally worth it. Our performance schedule is very full: There are up to six shows a day, and we split the schedule between casts. On average, each cast will do 15 to 17 shows in a week.
SHAPE: How do you maintain such perfect posture and form?
TR: Perfect posture and form come from conditioning, even during the off season. I personally take hot yoga for strength. Yoga makes you very aware of your body and correct positioning. It also strengthens your core and helps with balance and elongating your muscles. I also spin—it's my favorite way to do fun cardio! (Or try this Pilates/barre workout for a dancer's body.)
SHAPE: What's your favorite costume and number to perform?
TR: It's hard to choose a favorite number in the Christmas Spectacular, but I love our finale number, "Snow." Each of the costumes are a little bit different, as we are each representing snowflakes and no two snowflakes are alike. The number is more lyrical in the beginning and it builds and builds until the final kick line.
SHAPE: Can the public ever dance or take a class with the Rockettes?
TR: Yes! The public can definitely take classes that are taught by Radio City Rockettes! Fifteen years ago I actually took a Rockette Experience class the day before my audition just to gain some more insight into what the Rockettes are all about. We also have the Rockette Summer Intensive where you have to audition to get into the program, but once you're accepted, you spend a week with the Rockettes learning full numbers from the show. Both of these opportunities are great ways to get a glimpse of what we do for our rehearsal process and what it takes to be a Rockette! You can also come see the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes now through January 2 at Radio City Music Hall.