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Local Rockettes Reflect on Life on Stage


by Stephen Becker 23 Dec 2009

The touring version of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular is in the middle of a monthlong run at the Nokia Theatre in Grand Prairie. KERA’s Stephen Becker talks with a pair of local dancers in the show about what it takes to be a Rockette:

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The touring version of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular is in the middle of a monthlong run at the Nokia Theatre in Grand Prairie. KERA’s Stephen Becker talks with a pair of local dancers in the show about what it takes to be a Rockette:

  • KERA radio story:
  • Online version

If there’s one thing the Rockettes are known for, it’s locking arms in a straight line, smiling wide and knocking out those perfectly precise, eye-high kicks.

Addie Hoobler, who’s performed thousands of those kicks as part of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, says the key is putting all the pieces together.

a_hoobler The Falling Soldiers is one of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular’s show stoppers.

Addie Hoobler

ADDIE: “The hardest part of them is that our jump kicks are really fast, and they do have to be eye-high, so we’re all on the same level and all on the same count. The main thing is you have to hold your core, and you use that the whole time. You kind of rebound through your feet and go through them. Jump kick your left, jump kick your right. You really have to use your hamstring to pull it down. … So for all of us to stand in line and do that at the same time is really challenging…”

Addie learned the technique behind those kicks taking dance classes while growing up in Richardson. She joins second year Rockette Emily Sears on stage. Emily grew up in Denton and attended SMU.

And like Addie, Emily’s foundation in dance began at an early age.

e_sears3

Emily Sears

EMILY: “My mom put me in ballet and tap and tumbling when I was 3. But as I grew up, once I was in middle school and high school, I focused primarily on ballet and did a lot of ballet all the way through college.”

The competition to become a Rockette is fierce, with more than a thousand dancers auditioning for the 200 or so spots among the touring versions of the show.

To make the cut, you’ve got to be well-versed in ballet, tap and jazz.

And you’ve got to have the stamina to fire off 300 of those signature high kicks per show.

When you consider that the Rockettes perform as many as four shows on some Saturdays, the kick count can reach into the thousands.

EMILY: “I always sleep really well on Saturday nights.”

ADDIE: “Don’t want to wake up on Sunday mornings, that’s for sure…”

But wake up on Sunday mornings they must – there are shows at 1, 4:30 and 7:30.

In all, the Rockettes will perform 30 times during their stop in North Texas. And when you consider the show has been in rehearsals since October, it’s easy for the dancers to feel like they’ve permanently moved to the North Pole.

ADDIE: “It’s not like the build up to that one Christmas Day, because every day’s Christmas here!”

That’s where Addie and Emily’s hometown advantage kicks in.

They live in a hotel near the theater, but they are able to hang out with loved ones on their precious few off days. And with the show dark on Christmas Day, they can have a real family Christmas at home.

Until then, they have several chances to perform for friends and family.

Addie says she enjoys picking out people she knows in the crowd; Emily prefers not to know where they are sitting. But they agree that just knowing that they are performing for familiar faces provides a boost.

EMILY: “You want to do well for the family members or the friends. And obviously you always want to do well, but it really does give an extra little…

ADDIE: “Kick?”

EMILY: “Yeah…extra kick [laughs]”

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