One of New York's great holiday traditions is in full swing. Or should that be high kick? Yes, the Rockettes once again are starring in the annual Christmas Spectacular, which is playing to sellout crowds at the 6,000-seat Radio City Music Hall in Rockefeller Center. The precision dance team must make eight costume changes over the course of the 90-minute show. These days, offshoots of the troupe also perform in Boston, Toronto, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and Nashville, Tenn. Some facts about the Rockettes, drawn from their website and other sources:
Precursor: Missouri Rockets, who were founded by Russell Markert and made their debut in St. Louis in 1925
Brought to New York by: Showman S.L. (Roxy) Rothafel as the "Roxyettes"
First New York performance: Dec. 27, 1932
Height range: 5 ft. 6 in. to 5 ft. 10-1/2 in.
Size of the troupe: 36 women (originally 16)
First year of racial integration: 1987
Proficiencies: tap, jazz, ballet, and modern dance
Size of annual audience: 2.1 million (more than any other live show in the US)
Alumnae: More than 3,000