Radio City Music hall - The Age of Glamour

Tuesday, February 22, 2011
A Rockette in training - Life Image Archive


Radio City Music Hall  - The Rockettes and Corps De Ballet

Radio City Music Hall


In the middle of the Depression - a theatre unlike any other in the world opened its doors  -the brainchild of the billionaire John D. Rockefeller, Jr  and built by RCA [ with the help of impressario Roxy Rothafel and the RKO group. Dubbed ' Radio City ' by RCA head David Sarnoff - it was to be a palace for the people - a place where an ordinary citizen could soak up and live - temporarilly - the glamour of the movies. It was to be a place where one could dream of better days.
The Art Deco interior design by Donald Deskey still stands as a monument to the age of glamour. It remains the largest indoor theatre in the world. Since 1933 - over 700 major movies have premiered there. The annual Radio City Christmas Spectacular with the spectacularly lit Rockefeller Center is still the nations favourite holiday destination.

The Rockettes

Herbert Gehr - Life -Rockettes Dressing Room -1944 - Life Magazine


The Rockettes played an integral role in many Radio City theatrical productions.Formed in 1929 as an answer to the Zeigfeld Follies Tiller Girls, they became an instant sensation when they danced at the opening of Radio City on December 27th 1932.

The Rockettes Rehearse - Bernard Hoffmann -Life -1941


The Radio City Christmas Spectacular - 2010


They were the quintessential American chorus line, drilled with military precision and style. They came to epitomise the age of glamour right  through the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's. Choreographer Russell Markert, staged many stunning performances, with Radio City featuring a lavish live show every week, along with a  new movie ! Hollywood Movie Stars graced the doors of Radio City Music Hall at premiere after premiere. Below is an image of Cary Grant with the Rockettes.

Cary and the Rockettes !

Radio City Corps De Ballet

Radio City Corps De Ballet - Bernard Hoffmann - Life - 1941

Along with the kick line of the Rockettes, a nights entertainment usually included the Radio City Corps De Ballet, which provided a more asthetic glamour to the occasion.The RadioCity ballet Dancers had no ballet season.For them it was 365 days a year. Eventually these gruelling conditions were regulated by unions. Unlike the machine like Rockettes, the Radio City Corps de Ballet were a gentler alternative. They be have been ethereal on stage, but their punishing training schedule, proved that glamour meant pain !

All images courtesy of Life Magazine Image Archive

Radio City Corps de Ballet Reunion




The Rockettes Image Archive - 1930s to present

1938 Rockettes
1933 - The Radio City Rockettes
The Rockettes - 1944

The Rockettes Dressing Room -1956
Rockettes Rehearse - source Life 1964
The Rockettes -1965 - Life
The Rockettes - Time Warner

The rockettes in Dressing Room 2011 - source Lacey Lynch
The Rockettes 2010 Christmas Show