7 Interesting Facts about New York City's Radio City Music Hall and the Rockettes ...


Radio City Music Hall, nicknamed “The Showplace Of a Nation,” is a mesmerizing magical place, whether seen through the eyes of a child or an adult. Come along as we take a tour of the interior, learn a little about the history, and discover interesting facts about the fabulous Rockettes and New York’s famed Radio City Music Hall.

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The Location

The main entrance is on 6th Avenue, officially called Avenue of the Americas, (but I’ve never heard it called that by a New Yorker), between 50th and 51st streets. Radio City Music Hall is part of the Rockefeller Center complex. There were plans to demolish the building in 1978, when family type films and live stage shows were out of favor, but reprieve in the form of landmark status, saved the music hall.


Situated in the heart of Manhattan, Radio City Music Hall's iconic marquee shines brightly amongst the city bustle, beckoning tourists and locals alike. Its prime location is easily accessible by the subway, with the nearest stations being 47-50th Streets Rockefeller Center on the B, D, F, and M lines. This grand entertainment venue, known for its Art Deco design and elegant interior, is a stone's throw away from Times Square, adding to New York's vibrant cultural tapestry and serving as a cornerstone of the city's rich performance history.


The Interior

If you’re a lover of Art Deco, the interior of Radio City Music Hall will be quite a sight for you to behold. Original furnishings from 1932 have been restored to their former luster. There’s seating for 6,000 patrons, with each having an unobstructed view of the proceedings on stage. There’s an incredibly complex “elevator system,” that moves people, animals, props and orchestra. The famous Wurlitzer pipe organ is the largest built organ for a movie theater. The centerpiece of the stage is the rise of the majestic gold curtain before each show.


Intricately designed carpets, lighting fixtures, and murals add to the opulence, echoing an era when glamour was paramount. The Grand Foyer, inspired by a sunburst motif, with its grand staircase and expansive lounges, offers a sublime prelude to the main auditorium. Even the restrooms are noteworthy, famous for their stylish design and elegance, rivaling the splendor of the finest hotels. Artists, dignitaries, and patrons have lauded the hall's acoustics, allowing it to serve not just as a movie theater but as an iconic venue for music and theater performances throughout its storied history.


The Films and Performers

Did you know that over 700 movies had their premiere at Radio City Music Hall? A short list includes “King Kong;” “Breakfast At Tiffany’s;” “To Kill A Mockingbird;” “The Lion King” and “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” In 1979, the venue became home to concerts and special attractions. Entertainers that have performed include Frank Sinatra; Sammy Davis Jr.; Ray Charles; Aretha Franklin; Riverdance and of course, the Rockettes.


The Rockettes - Requirements

The Radio City Rockettes must be between 5’6” and 5’10 ½” in stocking feet. While it might look like they’re just having fun up on that awesome stage, the Rockettes are dancers first, and must be proficient in tap, jazz, ballet and modern dance. You can’t be younger than 18 to audition and each dancer must re-audition for the following year.


Embodying the spirit of glam and precision, each Rockette also needs to have a deep commitment to maintaining the troupe's iconic uniformity on stage. They need to exhibit extraordinary endurance for performing up to four shows daily during busy seasons. In addition to physical requirements, they're expected to have immaculate grooming and the ability to convey the essence of the show with just their radiant smiles and synchronized movements. With dozens of costume changes during each performance, agility and poise are just as crucial offstage as they are on.


The Rockettes – Costumes and Makeup

Each girl is required to do her own hair and makeup in accordance to whatever dance routine they are performing. Costume changes are wicked fast, with 78 seconds being the quickest change ever made in the Christmas show. There are eight costume changes. Thanks to a tiny transmitter worn under the arch of their dancing shoes, every tap is audible throughout the entire hall.


The precision and professionalism required of the Rockettes extend to their visual presentation as well. The iconic costumes that they don are as vital to the performance as their choreography. Over the years, the designs have become more elaborate, celebrating a blend of tradition and contemporary fashion. Everything from the shimmer on their radiant dresses to their sparkling eyes is meticulously planned, ensuring that each Rockette looks flawless under the bright stage lights. Despite the rapid changes and complex routines, their appearance remains impeccable - a testament to their dedication and the behind-the-scenes magic of Radio City Music Hall.


The Rockettes – Performances

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular features new numbers as well as traditional routines performed by the “precision dancers” that make up the Rockettes. The famous kick line performs “eye-high kicks,” and when the Rockettes are in the kick line, they’re not putting their weight on their fellow dancers, but just lightly touching the fabric of the other’s costume. The show runs every night, from early November through December 31st; with between five and six shows per day , and is 90 minutes long without intermission.


The choreography for the Rockettes is meticulously designed to ensure that every movement is in flawless synchronization—down to the very millisecond. Throughout the bustling holiday season, these talented dancers maintain a rigorous schedule. With grace and endurance, they continue to captivate audiences, keeping the spirit of tradition alive. Each Christmas Spectacular show is a testament to their dedication, showcasing not only their iconic kick line but also their ability to perform intricate numbers with precision and uniformity, dazzling onlookers with their holiday-themed performances.


The Rockettes - Additional Information

There are twice as many dancers as appears on stage at any one time, plus backups to cover sick days or emergencies. The cast splits the number of shows done per night which allows all dancers to get some rest and a day off. Since the '90s, the Rockettes have performed only the Christmas Spectacular, but slated for spring 2015, a new show called “Heart and Lights” will take the stage. If you’re interested in learning more about the audition process for future shows, please see radiocity.com.

If you get to New York when the Rockettes are performing, or someone you like is in concert, do you think you might go see a show ? Have you been to Radio City Music Hall as a youngster and care to share memories?

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