Photo: Meredith Galante/Business Insider
The Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular has been completely revamped this year by long-time choreographer Linda Haberman, this time with an electronic twist.
In the opening number, the 36 Rockettes onstage emulate a video game, and the theme is carried throughout the show as the Rockettes battle the Humbugs, monsters who try to steal kids’ toys.
Spectators can expect some new technology on the stage as well. The updated show incorporates 3D and the largest LED screen in the country.
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Rockettes Mary Cavett, 28, and Gabrielle Del Re Ashley, 35, are welcoming the changes to the traditional performance, which kicks off its annual run tomorrow. Everyone’s favourite numbers such as the wooden soldiers and the nativity are still in the show, but there are some new moves that show off the Rockettes “true athleticism,” Cavett said.
“The new moves were very physically taxing at first,” said Cavett, who has been a Rockette for five years. “But now that we know them it’s a great addition to the show.”
The dancers are split into two teams: the Gold Team, which performs at night, and the Blue Team, which handles daytime performances. Cavett and Del Re Ashley are both on the Gold Team, and during the show’s run can perform three to five shows a day.
“You need to fuel your body during the season,” Cavett said. “Steak, carbs and protein are very important.”
Being a Rockette seems pretty glamorous, but it means long hours and taxing moves on one’s body. Cavett visits the athletic trainer every day to have her feet taped so she doesn’t blister or twist an ankle.
In order to get ready for the show, which runs Nov. 11 through Jan. 2, the Rockettes rehearse six days a week for several months from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
But no matter how much they practice, some still get butterflies before every show, said Del Re Ashley, who has been a Rockette for 13 years.
“It keeps you on your toes,” she said. “It’s exciting to be performing in front of all those people. It’s really thrilling.”
We got a backstage pass to check out the dressing room where the Rockettes get into costume, and learned about their pre-show routines.
On the left is Mary Cavett, 28, and on the right is Gabrielle Del Re Ashley, 35. They've agreed to give us the inside scoop on their pre-show routine.
Each Rockette has her own vanity on one of two floors. This is where Mary sits to do her own makeup.
Before the season started, the Rockettes sat through a video-training session teaching them how to do their own makeup.
The Rockettes are also required to do their own hair. They quickly become experts in the French twist.
Cavett said when she's not performing she never does her hair, to give it a break from all the hairspray.
During the show, the off-stage choreography is as intricate as it is on-stage, Cavett said. In one case, they have just 60 seconds to change. Each dancer's costumes are labelled with her name, and shoes are stored in a basket below.
After all the makeup is on and rehearsals are over, it's time to perform. This is the classic wooden soldier number.
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