The Radio City Rockettes rev up holiday fashion

What to expect this season! (Hint: It’s not just a NYC phenomenon anymore.)

“Can we get a break from smiling?” asks Jacquelyn Dowsett at the DS fashion shoot, before bursting into a fit of laughter with her castmates. Decked out in silver high-heeled shoes, with legs that almost touch the ceiling, the Radio City Rockette needed a minute to let her face and kicking legs rest after three hours of posing for photos. And she should take a break while she can get one. Dowsett is one of 32 Rockettes who will fuse jazz, tap and ballet in this year’s Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. Starting November 7, she’ll be spreading cheer round-the-clock (as in 30 shows a week!).


This isn’t the same Christmas Spectacular your grandmother saw. “The show is totally re-imagined each year,” says Katie Martin, a returning Rockette. Along with the legendary “Living Nativity” and “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” (routines that have dazzled audiences since 1933), this year’s crowd will get something fresh: the ladies will board a real Gray Line double-decker bus before going with the audience on a dancing, musical “tour” to famous NYC landmarks, all in the comfort of the 6,000-seat Radio City Music Hall. The number ends with live explosive fireworks!


The Rockettes aren’t just going to be driving in a bus onstage, but they’ll also actually be touring the country! The brand-new arena tour will be hitting 23 cities before the new year begins. The updated elements—different lighting and costumes, a flying Santa and a 360-degree viewing—all encompass that traditional Rockette spirit.

“It’s the most wonderful experience, whether you’re seeing the show around the U.S. or in NYC,” notes Martin. “A Rockette is a Rockette no matter where she is.”


It’s this eternal optimism and buoyant energy that’s made the troupe more than just a precision kick-line for the past 76 years. Even Dowsett, after asking for a smile break, couldn’t seem to wipe one off her face. The joy this job creates in the dancers is palpable, and it translates to the stage.


Come this fall and winter these NYC-based Rockettes, as well as their arena-tour sisters, will have a lot of kicking to do. But it’s a safe bet that, no matter how tired the dancers are, their smiles will be genuine and of course, perfectly in sync.

Latest Posts

Viktorina Kapitonova in "Swan Lake Bath Ballet" (photo by Ryan Capstick, courtesy Corey Baker Dance)

Please Enjoy the Quarantine Genius of “Swan Lake Bath Ballet”

That old saying about limitations breeding creativity—hat tip to Orson Welles—has never felt more relevant than in these lockdown days. Here's the latest brilliant dance project born (hatched?) of quarantine restrictions: "Swan Lake Bath Ballet," a contemporary take on the classic featuring 27 A-list ballet dancers performing from their own bathtubs.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Project 21 dancers (from left) Selena Hamilton, Gracyn French, and Dyllan Blackburn (Photo by Quinn Wharton; hair and makeup throughout by Angela Huff for Mark Edward Inc.)

How Project 21 Is Shaping the Next Generation of Competition-Dance Standouts

"I wish I had a better story about the name," says Molly Long, founder of the Orange County, CA–based dance studio Project 21. In truth, it's a play on the fact that she was born on the twenty-first of August, and 21 is her favorite number. "I was away on a teaching tour, the audition announcement was going live on Instagram the next day, and I desperately needed a name. Project 21 was just the least cheesy of the options I thought of!"

The fact that fans might expect the name to have some profound meaning speaks to the near-mythic status Project 21 has achieved on the competition and convention scene since its founding in 2014. Long's dancers are all wholly individual, yet jell seamlessly as a group, and are consistently snagging top prizes everywhere on the circuit. Each season brings a slew of new accolades, high-caliber faculty, and legions of devoted followers.

The industry has taken notice of the studio's unique ethos. "Molly gets through to her dancers in a special way, and they have this incomparable level of commitment to their craft as a result," says dancer and choreographer Billy Bell, who's worked closely with Long and her dancers. "That's what sets them apart—it's like a little dose of magic."

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search