This is the time of year when a Rockette really has to be on her toes.
On Friday, the high-stepping, perfectly coiffed dancers will bring their "Radio City Christmas Spectacular" to West Palm Beach for a 25-show run. The 20 Rockettes (18 on stage, plus two backups) playing West Palm Beach are members of the traveling group. Their four-city "Christmas Spectacular" tour began Nov. 7 in Atlanta, then hit Nashville, and will go to Tampa after West Palm Beach.
Meanwhile, two casts of dancers stay in New York, performing at Radio City Music Hall from Nov. 21 through Dec. 30.
Because an average show consists of about 300 kicks, and because the Rockettes sometimes perform four shows a day, the dancers often have fitness backgrounds. A trainer and a dietitian join them on tour.
One Rockette, Laura Iberg, takes yoga, Pilates and hits the gym, she says during a media visit to Fort Lauderdale. "It's very challenging physically, so you have to go into rehearsals already at your peak," she says.
Iberg grew up in Highland, Ill., but now lives in Orlando, where she is an entertainer at Treasure Tavern dinner show and Universal Studios' Wizarding World of Harry Potter when the Rockettes are out of season. She started dancing at her local studio when she was 3. She remembers seeing the Rockettes when she was a girl at the Fox Theater in St. Louis.
"From then on, I always wanted to be a Rockette," says Iberg, who auditioned three times — competing against about 200 dancers each time — before making it.
Jeanne Logan Cargill, from Bradenton, dances with the New York-based production, and teaches Pilates and fitness classes in the Hoboken/Jersey City area during the off-season.
"The show is just a special, special thing to be a part of," she says. (Rockettes officials prefer the women don't reveal their ages.)
The Rockettes trace their roots to St. Louis in 1925, when they were known as the Missouri Rockets and consisted of 16 girls of uniform height and weight dancing in precision, forming straight lines and geometric shapes. They moved to Radio City Music Hall in 1932 as the Roxyettes before being renamed the Rockettes the next year and performing a Christmas show that included "The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" and "The Living Nativity," numbers that still appear in "Radio City Christmas Spectacular."
This year's show features a 50-foot LED screen that transports the audience to Times Square and Santa's Workshop, and includes new sets and special effects from previous years. That includes "New York at Christmas," with the Rockettes boarding a double-decker tour bus and taking the audience on a guided tour of New York.
The Rockettes' previous South Florida appearance was in 2007, at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.
Radio City Christmas Spectacular, starring the Rockettes
When: 5 and 8 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. and 2, 5 and 8 p.m. Saturday; 2, 5 and 8 p.m. Sunday; 5 and 8 p.m. Tuesday; 2 and 8 p.m. Wednesday; 1, 5 and 8 p.m. Thursday; 2, 5 and 8 p.m. Dec. 6; 11 a.m., and 2, 5 and 8 p.m. Dec. 7; noon and 3 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach
Contact: 800-572-8471 or Kravis.org/rockettes