Courtesy Madison Square Garden

The Rockettes are officially looking for some fresh faces. For the first time in almost a decade, the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall is expanding its yearly open call in New York City to add audition locations in Chicago and Atlanta. The creative team wants to widen the pool and reach even more dancers.

So how can you get chosen out of hundreds of hopefuls?

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Dance News
(Front) Kali Grinder (photo by Daniel Robinson, courtesy Grinder)

Former comp star Kali Grinder's stellar stage presence and graceful lines have served her well in her new life as a Broadway baby. She performed in Wicked on Broadway for one year, appeared on the show's national tour, and was a Rockette during The Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Currently, she's an ensemble dancer in the new musical Frozen. A Las Vegas, NV, native, Grinder started training at The Dance Zone at age 6. She briefly studied dance at Point Park University before heading to NYC to pursue her dreams. Catch her dancing with Anna and Elsa this month during the show's previews—and read on for the dirt!

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Dancer to Dancer
Courtesy MSG Entertainment

For some it's a holiday tradition, for others its an iconic spectacle, but no matter the reason, more than 1 million people will watch the Rockettes perform in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular each year. And though the production has been around since 1933, much of what goes on behind those velvety curtains and intricate sets remains a mystery. To curb our curiosity and find out what ensues when these leggy ladies aren't doling out their sky-high kicks, we got a backstage tour from the legends themselves.

From hair and makeup, to warm-up exercises, and costume quick changes (the fastest quick change in the show is a #mindblowing 75 seconds, by the way) we got a glimpse into the glamorous (and sometimes not so glamorous) world of the Rockettes.

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Dancer to Dancer

It's kind of hard to fathom the fact that the Radio City Rockettes have been around since 1925. I mean, just think about the periods of American history these leggy ladies have kicked their way through! Pretty surreal.

92-year-old Eleanor Leight can tell you what it was like to be a Rockette during the 1940s, when the dancers were paid just $45 a week despite packed performance schedules. During WWII, Leight traveled to Europe with the Rockettes to perform for the American troops.

Leight (eighth from the right) traveling to France with the Rockettes as part of the USO

Now, the retired Rockette spends her free time teaching a group of seniors who call themselves the Silver Steppers. And while she may not expect eye-high kicks from her dancers (most of them are in their 80s), she does uphold the same values of precision and hard work so central to the Rockette philosophy.

If Eleanor Leight is any indication of a dancer's longevity, we're in good shape. I mean, check out those still-fabulous legs! Get it, girl.

Dance News

All right people, it's really happening! The Rockettes are slated to premiere their new show, New York Spring Spectacular, in 2015.

We reported back in March that Hearts and Lights—which was scheduled to open in Spring of 2014—was unceremoniously shuttered until 2015—and then we didn't hear very much more about it. It looks like Spring Spectacular has risen, phoenix-like, from the ashes of the old show and will provide the Rockettes with their first non-Christmas Spectacular production since 1997!

Spring Spectacular will take audiences on a dance-tastic tour of NYC, and will include classic Rockette kick lines and tap routines along with more contemporary numbers.

The show itself isn't the only thing that's spectacular. Check out the production dream team: co-creative director Diane Paulus (Tony-award winning director of Pippin), director and choreographer Warren Carlyle (Tony-award winning choreographer of After Midnight) and co-creative director Randy Weiner (of Sleep No More).

We can't wait to see what all these amazing artists make together! Take a sneak peak here:

 

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