7 Surprising Facts About the Radio City Rockettes' Dazzling Costumes
There Are Over 4,000 Crystals on This Look
This "Christmas Lights" outfit is the newest costume in the Rockettes collection, a design by Project Runway alum Emilio Sosa that debuted this year. Inspired by vintage costume lights, it shimmers on stage thanks to its 3,069 Swarovski crystals, all applied by hand, as well as an additional 1,296 rhinestones on each headpiece.
Don't Forget the Shoes
To add even more razzle dazzle to the "Christmas Lights" look, costume designer Emilio Sosa added 572 Swarovski crystals to the shoes, all of which were hand-glued. Plus, he made sure each shoe was painted to match the skin tone of the Rockette wearing it.
They Control the Antler Lights Themselves
For the "Sleigh Ride" costumes, which were designed in 1999, the Rockettes wear light-up antlers. To turn the lights on and off, each Rockette must activate an electric switch in her jacket, which means the Rockettes must precisely time their movements throughout the number.
One of their most famous numbers, "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers," first appeared on stage in 1933 — and it has remained pretty much the same since. The pants are constructed so they don't bend, the hat is about two-and-a-half feet tall and they stick red cloths onto their cheeks using Vaseline or double-stick tape for the number; they go through 30,000 cloths over the course of one season.
A 78-Second Change
After they finish their wooden soldier dance, the Rockettes have 78 seconds to change into this look for "New York at Christmas," which debuted in 2008. They change from pants, jacket, gloves, hat, cheeks, socks and shoes into a dress, jacket, gloves, earrings, fur hat and shoes — fast!
Red or Green
There are 80 Rockettes total — 40 in each of two casts, 36 of which go on stage at a time. In "New York at Christmas," which is the costume shown here, half wear green and half wear red. Each Rockette must be between 5-ft.6-in. and 5-ft-10.5-in. and be a truly outstanding dancer, as they perform four times daily and do 160 kicks per show... that's 640 kicks a day.
There Are Microphones in Their Shoes
Many of the Rockettes' shoes, including these in the "12 Days of Christmas" costume, have custom microphone boxes drilled into the base of the heel to amplify the tap sounds you hear in the audience — all of which are real, and performed in real time.