Rockette Science

Two of the leggy lasses tell how they attain their precision work
Rockette Science
Photograph by Marvin Shaouni

The lunchtime patrons of Detroit’s Slows Bar BQ may like to think of themselves as hard-to-impress, urban cosmopolitans, but face it: It’s hard not to take a second look when a couple of pretty girls pass your table, especially when they’re wearing red velvet costumes with stand-up white fur collars that make them look like Santa’s sexy nieces.

Especially, in other words, when they’re Rockettes.

Alexis Thebolt and Emily Blanchard, two young women from metro Detroit with stellar gams and fluttery false eyelashes, came to town to promote the new version of the Rockettes’ famous Christmas Spectacular, coming to Joe Louis Arena Nov. 21-23. Thebolt and Blanchard hail from West Bloomfield and White Lake townships, respectively, and followed their dreams of dancing professionally all the way to Radio City in New York, only to find themselves back on the road home.

The arena show is a juiced-up, widescreen version of the Christmas show that’s been a holiday tradition here for years. The good news: It retains the spirit of the original while sending it all the way up to the cheap seats with such newfangled dazzle as elevators, turntables, and a 65-foot LED screen. The better news: The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, a number that retains Vincente Minnelli’s original choreography, remains in the show.

We asked Thebolt and Blanchard a few questions we’ve always wondered about being a Rockette:

Is there an inseam requirement?

No, but there is a height requirement — all dancers must be between 5 feet 6 and a half and 5 feet 10 and a half. They make everyone look the same by positioning the tallest women in the center of the kick-line, tapering down to the shortest at the ends.

How many costume changes are there in the Christmas Spectacular?

Eight, one of which must be accomplished in 78 seconds. And there are 300 kicks per show.

What about the shoes?

They’re standard T-straps with 3-inch heels, and yes, they rehearse in them, too. Six hours a day, six days a week, for two solid months. Those precision kicklines require nothing less.

And the kickline?

They’re eye-high kicks. Which isn’t so high as kicks go, but doing them in perfect synchronization with 23 other dancers in the line is the hard part.

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