Since 1933, spectators in search of holiday cheer have descended on New York City's Radio City Music Hall to watch the Rockettes perform in their iconic Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Eighty-four years later, the training and precision required of the show's dancers are as rigorous as ever—that much is evident just by watching their famous kick line.
But what really goes on behind the scenes? According to Rockette Sagan Rose, a typical day of performances might involve dressing room dance parties, delicious (and filling) snacks, and lots of bonding with her fellow dancers—and that's all before noon.
Rose shares a day in the life below, from the breakfast she swears by to her preferred stage makeup.
"Today, I have two shows at Radio City Music Hall, one at 11 a.m. and another at 2 p.m. I love being able to take my time getting prepared and ready for the day, so I usually wake up around 8 a.m. We can perform in up to four shows a day, so it's important to get a good night's sleep so I can wake up feeling refreshed and ready for a long day on my feet. I shower, wash my face (Olay face scrub and Olay moisturizer), and put on comfortable clothes, and then I am out my door in 30 minutes flat. I never wear makeup to Radio City Music Hall, because as soon as I get there, I am applying stage makeup, so I like to have a fresh clean face anytime I can get away with it."
"I live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, so I hop on the B train that goes directly to Radio City. It's so convenient—I arrive at the hall by 9 a.m."
"I usually grab my go-to breakfast from the concourse of Radio City: egg and cheese on a toasted English muffin with hot sauce—ALWAYS HOT SAUCE—and an iced coffee. If I am trying to be more healthy, I get oatmeal or a smoothie. I take it to go and always eat breakfast in my
dressing room. It's so cozy in the dressing room, and I like to take my time and put on the news or some jams and chat with the girls while I eat and start getting ready for the show."
"Show prep starts! The Rockettes do our own hair and makeup for every single show. I start by doing our signature French twist. It only takes a few minutes but requires a lot of hair spray! For our classic Rockette beauty look, I use my Dior foundation ($50), Becca concealer ($30), E.l.f. or MAC blush ($23), Naked eye shadow set ($29), false lashes, and of course my Sephora red lip stain ($14). Each Rockette wears a different red lip based on a number of factors, skin tone, how we like the lipstick to feel, etc."
"We have a 30-minute call before every show. During this time, we are warming up, getting notes from our dance captain and getting ready to hit the stage for our performance. All of the women do something different during this time. I am currently dealing with a neck injury, so I heat my neck and do a lot of back and neck exercises so it doesn't get worse while dancing.
"The Rockettes are truly athletes—we endure a rigorous training process that requires dedication and hard work, similar to what other professional athletes endure. Our dressing room has an ab and glute workout we all like to do together to Bruno Mars's 'That's What I Like' to get our bodies ready for all those kicks! I am obsessed with that song! It's definitely a jam session before the show! Each dressing room has special traditions and routines that they do together."
"SHOWTIME! We get into our first costume, Sleigh Ride, and we hit the stage for our first show: 90 minutes of nonstop action and magic on stage and backstage (the show is just as choreographed off stage as it is on stage!)
"The Christmas Spectacular this year is extra magical. It has undergone a complete technological overhaul and has been enhanced with incredible digital projections that span the entire iconic ceiling and walls of Radio City Music Hall. In years past, the digital projections extended to only four of the venue's iconic arches, and now the projections are on all eight arches and the entire ceiling! Some other numbers that we perform throughout the 90-minute production are 'Rag Dolls,' which is a classic dance number that originally debuted in 1940. This is a high-energy tap number featuring the Rockettes as rag dolls. There is also 'Parade of the Wooden Soldiers,' which is a classic and audience favorite—it's been in the show since 1933!"
"First show complete. We get out of costume and head upstairs to eat and hang out."
"I grab some food including a salad with grilled chicken, some veggies, rice, and of course a brownie. I need a good amount of calories to replenish my body and to fuel up for another show in 45 minutes. I go back down to my dressing room to lie down for a few minutes. We all appreciate a good nap in between shows if we have the time!"
"Time to hit the stage for our second show. Our legs are tired, but we always fight through and support one another. Another crazy, fun-filled 90-minute show. The little kids in the audience smiling at us gets me through! It's by far the most rewarding when we see the audience excited about what's happening on stage. It gives me the jolt of energy I need!"
"Some of the girls and I decide to go next door to Del Frisco's for some food and to watch some football before heading home. You would think we get sick of each other, but it's actually the opposite! We are always hanging out and doing fun things in the city when we aren't performing. I've met some of my best friends doing this job, and we are more like sisters now. Weddings, babies, family, we've been through it all together! They are the most supportive and loyal friends a girl could ask for."
"I start my journey back home but realize I am going to need more food before I go to bed, so I grab a Harvest Bowl from Sweetgreen to go. It's delicious with warm chicken, kale, sweet potato, and vinaigrette dressing. I tend to eat way more during the Christmas Spectacular season than I do during the off-season. Our bodies just crave more nourishment because we are expending so much energy on a daily basis.
"I am finally home and watch some TV to decompress. I FaceTime with my mom and my new nephew back home in Kentucky. I always get a little sad during the holidays when I can't see them, so thank god for technology!"
"I am in bed with a great book. I am loving the author Taylor Jenkins Reid, whose books include Maybe in Another Life, One True Loves, and Forever, Interrupted. I am finishing the latter but slowly because I don't want it to end! I light a candle from my favorite boutique in L.A., where I live in the off-season. I must get up in eight hours for another day full of shows and spreading Christmas cheer to the best city in the world! It's insane that this is what I get to do for a living, and what makes it even better is that I get to do it with my best friends. Goodnight!"