Legacy 36 Celebrates the Stars
Miller Theater at Columbia University
June 3, 2017
The famed Radio City Music Hall Rockettes, that high-kicking, glam- or- bust line of tap dancing women, began in St. Louis as the Missouri Rockets. The troop was brought to New York City to perform at the Roxy Theater where they were known as the Roxyettes and then, as part of the Christmas spectacular, came to Radio City, where they were rechristened The Rockettes.
Older Rockettes don’t quit, as exemplified by the performers at Legacy 36 Celebrates the Stars. The program, founded by Mary Six Rupert who spent thirteen years as a Rockette, was dedicated to Violet Holmes who directed and choreographed for the troop from 1972 to 1993. Six introduced many of the numbers that interspersed dance with reminiscences from stars including Sandy Duncan, a pert 71, who appeared with her husband Don Corea, and Maurice Hines who talked about his work for the Rockettes and how “fierce” the dancers are. Rose Meams spoke about her work in the 1970s helping save the Music Hall from being demolished before it achieved landmark status in 1979. The evening included tributes to Chita Rivera and other stars who performed with the group.
But the heart of the entertainment is the dancers. The Legacy group, costumed by Alan Michael Smith, danced the the Can Can with much petticoat swirling and ended the performance with New York, New York, decked out in toppers, gold lapels and tails. Every routine incorporates the famous kick line and these women—aged roughly 23 to 60—with the requirement that each was a Rockette at some time be it one year or many—can still pull it off. So can Six who tapped with Tomlee Abraham to My One and Only as well as Everything Old is New Again with her brother, Griff Braun, and Griff’s son Henry who looks about three years old.
I’ve never seen pointe shoes with heels until Katherine and Kimberly Corp appeared in green spangles to bourrée and tap to Somewhere Over the Rainbow, illustrating the work of the Music Hall’s ballet company that appeared sometimes alone and at other times in numbers with the Rockettes.
Other dancers joined the Legacy group for “Hit the Deck,” a number with performers in sailor hats holding mops, tapping and tossing their props with style. Yes, the whole thing is a little kitschy but it’s also a lot of fun especially for anyone who loves the Rockettes, with regard both for their spirit and their talent. Kick on ladies!