Being a dancer is extremely hard work, but when it comes to being a Rockette, arguably the most famous dancers in the world, there’s a lot that goes into being able to strap on one of those sparkly costumes and tap shoes! HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY caught up with Brooke Averi, 25, who has been with the group for 5 years, to find out all the behind-the-scenes juice on what it takes to make the infamous kick line look so good!
1. You must be tall, but not too tall, and there are several rules just to audition. Height is everything when it comes to nailing those kicks in perfect formation, but that’s not the only rule in order to even step foot in the door to audition. “You must be at least 18 years old, proficient in tap, jazz, ballet, and between the heights of 5’6” and 5’10.5,” Brooke says. “If you make it through the first round of auditions, Rockette hopefuls are asked to return the next day where they learn a new dance combination. I actually auditioned three times before securing the job!”
2. You must be able to change your clothes fast! Costumes are an extremely important part of the Christmas Spectacular performances and the dancers cannot miss a beat. “We each wear eight different costumes in the show and have as little as 78 seconds to change costumes in some cases,” Brooke shares with us. “The costumes are made specifically for each of us and every detail is considered. Every costume is made so that it fits each Rockette like a glove.”
3. If you can’t count, you can’t kick it with them.The kicks are really what make this show so special and the timing is absolutely everything. “We do about 300 kicks in each performance of the Christmas Spectacular, which means it takes a lot of practice to perfect our kicks,” Brooke explains. “We rehearse for six hours a day, six days a week, for six weeks before the show opens. It is important that we condition and strength train before the rehearsal process begins so that when it comes time to start kicking as a line, we are prepared for the strength and stamina it requires, including so much core work!”
4. A lot of work goes into those shoes. If you are sitting in the 6,000 person audience at the famous Radio City Music Hall and think the ladies are just wearing any old pair of tap shoes, you are wrong. “Our shoes are all hand painted to match each of our skin tones,” Brooke shares. “The mesh in our ’12 Days of Christmas’ costume is also dyed to match our skin tones perfectly. “We have a few tap numbers in the show for which we wear different tap shoes and what’s so interesting and unique about our tap shoes is that they each have a small microphone built into the space between the sole and the heel. This means that every tap sound you hear in the theater is live.”
5. When Christmas time is over, it’s back to work.The real world can be such a drag sometimes! Though the Rockettes do performances here and there in the off season, many of them return to their every day life until the fall when rehearsals begin again. “During the Christmas Spectacular season, we’re performing in up to four shows per day, six days per week, so we don’t have much time to pursue anything else, (but) in the off season, we do so many different things!” Brooke reveals of the rigorous schedule. “A lot of us teach dance and fitness, some perform in other shows. We have a few Rockettes who work in real estate or as accountants, and a lot of us are in school!”