Sophie Maslow in Folksay, American Dance Festival Pictured above: The Rockettes performing "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" in the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular. Created by the Rockettes' founder Russell Markert in 1933, this precision-dance number remains a highlight of the troupe's annual holiday performances, preserving the impeccable technique, tight-knit group dynamic and dazzling choreography that were Markert's original vision for the group. (Photograph by Matt Boulton, 2009.)


A performance by the Rockettes is an impressive blend of high-kicks, tap dancing, and precision; they are a New York institution as well known as the Empire State Building. Founded by Russell Markert, the Rockettes began performing as the "Missouri Rocket Dancers" in 1925. The act was brought to New York's Radio City Music Hall in 1932 for a variety performance that included Martha Graham, the Berry Brothers, Ray Bolger, and Patricia Bowman. The troupe's name changed to the Rockettes two years later. For decades, the Rockettes performed at every movie premiere at Radio City. Now, the Rockettes are most famous for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. In it, the evolving cast of long-legged dancers performs the Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, featuring militaristic movements and a cannon blast that causes the dancers to collapse like human dominos.

Learn more in The Rockettes, an essay by Darryl Kent Clark.