A Christmas Tradition: The Rockettes

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The Rockettes are a staple of the American Christmas experience with their impeccable synchronization, vibrant costumes, and signature can-can dance. As a child at heart, I went to see their Christmas Spectacular for the first time, armed against the bitter cold with two sweatshirts and a steaming cup of Godiva hot chocolate. My family and I waited on the line, which snaked around the block, for around twenty minutes while other attendees jumped in the air to keep themselves warm. The line sped up as showtime neared, and my family managed to arrive at our seats just when the show started.

Towards the beginning of the show, we donned our 3D glasses to watch a short video, which showed an animated Santa barreling through Manhattan on his sleigh. The visual effects were enhanced by the fact that the audience had the perspective of a passenger on the sleigh, making the twists and turns through the streets of New York more authentic. After the digital effects show, a man dressed as Santa Claus appeared on stage and introduced the Rockettes.

The Rockettes showed off their moves in short intervals, often dancing in pairs and creating patterns on the stage as a unit. One memorable dance featured the Rockettes on a large double-decker bus on stage with Central Park as a backdrop, while another showed the Rockettes as reindeer leading Santa’s sleigh. The best part of the entire show was the Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, in which the Rockettes showed off their ability to march in perfectly straight lines while wearing red-and-white uniforms with feathered hats. One particularly impressive scene displayed them toppling over in a single line like dominoes in slow motion.

Despite the charm of these dances, the show was lacking in other areas. One storyline that persisted throughout the Christmas Spectacular showcased a young boy and his teenage brother on their search for the perfect Christmas gift for their sister. At least thirty minutes were dedicated to convincing the disillusioned elder brother that Santa is real, thanks to a hasty trip to the North Pole and a dance with dozens of individuals dressed as Santa, who were supposed to prove that Santa Claus is “omnipresent.” Intended to be heartwarming, this storyline fell flat and wasted stage time that could have allowed the Rockettes to show off some more moves. Additionally, a biblical scene depicted the Three Wise Men trekking across the desert to give gifts to baby Jesus. While the scene was probably meant to show the roots of Christmas, it offered neither insight nor value, and it seemed out of place in contrast to the commercial appeal of the Rockettes.

While the show was interesting at some parts, I left feeling underwhelmed by this famous Christmas tradition. Since entertainment is now at society’s fingertips in the form of YouTube and Netflix, traveling to New York City to see the lavish but ultimately lackluster show was not necessarily worth the effort. Yet, the experience did encourage me to reflect on the meaning of Christmas itself. Instead of focusing on the pageantry and extravagance surrounding the holiday, I am going to concentrate on what matters most this year: spending time with family and friends.