Alina Williams and Laura Danelski give us the scoop on life as a Radio City Rockettes.
Written and Photographed by Angela Karen
How many Rockettes does it take to perform in cities simultaneously?
“We have an absolute amazing job and we do love what we do. Although there are sacrifices to be made…blisters, heavy schedules and lots of travel away from home. There are 120 Dancers total spread out in NYC, Nashville, Durham, and Boston.”
The dancers re-audition each year and put in a request for which city they’d like to be in for the season.
How did you become a Rockette?
We began dancing as soon as we could walk, some as early as 3 years old. Many decided at a very young age to pursue and study dance.
Most Rockettes became proficient in Jazz, Tap and Ballet as a child.
For those young aspiring dancers what are the requirements to become a Rockette?
You must be 18 years old to audition. Tryouts are at Radio City Music Hall in NYC, and there is always a line wrapped around the building of about 500 girls
The tryouts consist of 2 days of cuts.”
Alina: “I just sat by the phone waiting to hear”… didn’t make it the first year, but the 2nd year made it with my best friend.
It appears that most Rockettes are the same height. Is height a requirement?
The Rockettes range from 5’6 – 5’10 1/2. They all must kick to one height so that the line looks uniform. They do not change hemlines or wear different heel heights
Being a Rockette must be a busy life, always on the road. What is your typical schedule?
Dance season is October through December for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. We travel a lot, with three months of dancing. We consider these three months a ‘vacation’ and not necessarily work. We consider it an amazing job and we love what we do.
There is a huge sense of ‘camaraderie’ between all the dancers. We keep in touch with each other during and off season.
What a busy season for you all, it must take a toll on your body especially in the winter. Do you all have back-ups when on tour? How does this work?
Laura is a swing – which means she and the dance captains must learn all the parts on all the tracks in order to fill in for a dancer that is sick/ out, etc.
There is lots of practice to prepare for shows, what kind of training is involved?
300 kicks a day on average, a trainer on site providing physical care: ice baths, taping knees, feet, tending to blisters, etc.
Back stage would be “mind-blowing” for most people compared to how glamorous the Rockette’s stage performances are.
How long have you both been a Rockette and what do you plan to do after you retire?
Laura: There is a 10th anniversary show coming up in Nashville which is appropriate for me, since this is my 10th season to dance. I really want to tour with the Rockettes as long as possible. When I decide to retire, I’d like to spend more time (doing what I do in the summers at a camp) teaching tap.
Alina: (This is Alina’s 7th season.) Being a Rockette is sometimes like “being a rock star” I plan to also stay as long as I can.
•Glam up any outfit (especially a little black dress) with fancy accessories/ statement pieces
•Hat/Headpiece: (a Rockette staple) put hair in twist and add dangle earrings to spruce up every outfit
•Rockettes love big, bold statements
•Rockettes “are all about legs”: add fishnet stockings to any dress for a modern fashion statement
•Rockettes “ALWAYS” wear red lipstick. Mac Ruby Red/Russian Red lipstick is a great choice.
• Rockettes also always wear false eyelashes-Mac #6 lashes or Modlash from your local drugstore. Trim lashes with scissors to fit your eyelid so they don’t look to crazy. False lashes are easy to take off (no scrubbing mascara). Apply glue to base of lashes and let it sit for a minute to become tacky before applying to lids. Use mascara on false lashes to add more drama. •
The Radio City Christmas Spectacular is returning to Nashville, Tenn., as part of Gaylord Opryland Resort’s A Country Christmas. For packages and ticket information, please visit www.ChristmasAtGaylordOpryland.com or call 1-888-999-OPRY.