When I was young, my grandma and my mom took me to see the Rockettes when they were touring in Chicago. I loved the spectacle, and decided right then and there that I would be a Rockette. I started taking tap lessons in addition to my other dance classes, and even met some of the Rockettes when I visited New York City with my dance company in high school. I was ready. The only problem? I never grew tall enough! To be a Rockette, you have to be between 5’6″ and 5’10 ½”. My height? 5’5 ½”! So close! So instead I have loved the Rockettes from afar, eagerly watching whenever they performed on TV or at the Macy’s Parade.
I hadn’t actually seen the Christmas Spectacular again since that time when I was little, so I decided this holiday season that I would get tickets and watch it as an adult.
I walked into Radio City Music Hall the night of the performance and immediately was captivated by the massive, Christmas-tree-shaped chandelier in the lobby. It almost distracted from the large Chase advertisements covering the wreaths. Almost.
I navigated around the many concession stands in the lobby, received my 3D glasses and headed to my seat.
I was ready.
Before the curtain rose, the theater announced a series of ads that cheapened the experience and made me feel like I was at the movies. They were along the lines of: “Thirsty? Then purchase a delicious Coca-Cola for the show.”
Then two men played Christmas music on giant organs, which made me feel like I was at a hockey game. Sadly the feeling continued thanks to the audience. People came and went during the performance as if they were at a sporting event, standing up to remove coats and talking to each other at normal volumes. And this wasn’t just a select few. A vast majority of the audience behaved in this manner, treating the Rockettes as casually as they would street performers. And I’m talking about the adults! The children in the audience were extremely well behaved.
It was the absolute worst theater audience I have ever witnessed, and that includes the time I saw two men almost come to blows during the ballet!
But I was determined not to let other people ruin the show for me. So I tried to block out as much of the madness as I could and focus on the performance.
And it was wonderful. The show was fun and perfectly Christmassy, and put me right into the holiday spirit. Plus I noticed that all of the Rockettes dance in absolute perfect unison (even the ABT doesn’t dance in perfect unison!) so that brought joy to my dance OCD heart.
The Rockettes performed their famous toy soldier number. The choreography has largely remained the same since the group first danced it in 1932!
The living nativity scene was also incredible, and I appreciated how the show made sure to highlight what is at the core of the Christmas holiday.
And of course the performance ended as it always does, with a fabulous kick line.
The show was wonderful, and made me decide all over again that I would love to be a Rockette. Now I just need to figure out how to grow…
The Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes is only running until January 2nd, so be sure to get your tickets ASAP before they sell out! You can purchase tickets here. And for you ladies who are a half inch taller than me, you can find audition information here.
I walked out into a clear, not-too-cold night, so I decided it was the perfect time to wander around and see Midtown’s Christmas decorations.
I strolled by St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which looked imposing against the night sky.
And of course I headed to Rockefeller Center to see the famous tree.
I also watched Saks Fifth Avenue’s holiday light show, which is set to music and plays every 10 minutes.
And I made sure to check out Saks’ famous window displays as well. This year’s theme is Land of 1,000 Delights, which basically means a mix of The Nutcracker and dessert!
As I wandered, everyone around me was talking to each other and laughing, being friendly to strangers and enjoying the lights and music. It was weird. This just doesn’t happen in New York. But it was also wonderful. Because it felt like everyone had been touched by Christmas cheer, and that we were sharing in the holiday celebrations together. It allowed me to see the city with fresh eyes, and reminded me of all that unites us and that there is so much good in a city that can sometimes feel cold and ugly.
That night there were so many moments that felt magical, and as I shared smiles and well wishes with perfect strangers this quote kept running through my head:
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely of places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” – Roald Dahl
I went home with glittering eyes, having fallen in love with my city, and its people, all over again.