Kicking Up a Storm in 3D: Rooted in Tradition, the Radio City "Christmas Spectacular" Has Impressed Audiences for Almost 80 Years, and This Year's Transformation Is Sure to Surpass All Expectations

By Sides, Hannah; Keeler, Karen | USA TODAY, November 2011 | Go to article overview

Kicking Up a Storm in 3D: Rooted in Tradition, the Radio City "Christmas Spectacular" Has Impressed Audiences for Almost 80 Years, and This Year's Transformation Is Sure to Surpass All Expectations


Sides, Hannah, Keeler, Karen, USA TODAY


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FOR THOSE who never have seen the Radio City "Christmas Spectacular," this just may be the year to start, as a treasured tradition has been enhanced with the addition of 3D. Of course, audiences still will enjoy seeing Santa Claus and his elves, giant teddy bears, and numbers such as "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers," "12 Days of Christmas," and "Let Christmas Shine, "as well as those incredible eye-high kicks from the world-famous Rockettes, but this holiday season patrons also will experience the world of 3D Live, groundbreaking technology that never has been used in a theatrical production before. Let two of the Rockettes explain about this year's show and what it means to be part of the world-famous dance ensemble.

Hannah Sides

"Mama, when I grow up, I'm going to be one of those!" While watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, these are the words I said to my mother after seeing the Radio City Rockettes perform for the first time. I was three years old and, though I always had dreamed of being a dancer, that one memory always has stood out. It was the first time my dream took on a tangible form and, I think in a lot of ways, acted as a catalyst to start formal training. Though my interests and dreams in the world of dance certainly varied here and there, as I grew older and was exposed to more, that little girl's dream of someday becoming a Rockette never left me. At the very end of the summer of 2005, I received the call that made that dream a reality.

As I look back on that day now, it definitely lacks any sense of reality. I believe I stayed in a state of euphoric disbelief until I was halfway through rehearsals on my first day at the famed Radio City Music Hail. I was 18 when I auditioned--doing so on a whim to get some experience with that process. I never actually expected to get the job; I was just thrilled to make it all the way through the two-day audition. After being offered the position a couple of months later, I was completely overwhelmed. I remember shaking with excitement.

Though I utterly was thrilled with the opportunity, it did not come without its fair share of challenges. Through the rigorous rehearsal period of dancing six days a week and choreography being taught at a lightning pace, it became imperative to pick up the material fast with every last bit of concentration focused on each minute detail. It is that extreme attention to detail and the synchronicity in its execution that sets the Rockettes apart. To then follow those high-energy rehearsals with an intense show schedule of up to five performances a day, I discovered a new definition of the words "hard work." What I thought were my physical boundaries were pushed much further than I thought possible. I learned to make each performance better than the last. The work it took to become a Rockette not only changed me as a dancer, but, through the discovery of these lifelong skills, as a human being. Always dream big, work harder than you think you can, and never give up--and aim to make today better than yesterday.

Throughout my first year I gained a newfound knowledge and respect for what the Radio City Rockettes are and what they represent--not only in the legacy of their past, but in the promise of their future. What is so unique about this dance company is that every single individual is equally important in creating the dynamic impact of the whole. The line is constant and strong, and has been since its creation in 1925. When one Rockette leaves, another always is there to take her place.

I remember one of the most moving experiences my first year was opening night when we got to the first kickline of the show: linking up that first lime, I felt as if I not only was linking up in a kickline with the other 35 women on stage, but that I was connected to all of those who had stood there before me. It was a humbling moment. Working with these amazingly strong and talented women every day is an honor beyond words. …

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