Women’s History Month: Celebrating the Rockettes Sisterhood and Legacy

It all started in 1925 when Russell Markert, the Rockettes’ chief choreographer, image-preserver and resident “father figure” of the famous troupe until he retired in 1971, founded the exemplary American chorus line.

Inspired by the British dance troupe “The Tiller Girls” formed by John Tiller, Russell wanted to achieve absolute precision and ultimate uniformity in the movements of the dancers. Initially known as the “Missouri Rockets,” the dance company made their show debut in St. Louis.

That same year, the troupe traveled to New York City to perform in the Broadway show Rain or Shine, and were discovered by showman S.L. “Roxy” Rothafel. The “Missouri Rockets” were such an instant hit that Rothafel didn’t want them to leave after their performances at the Roxy Theatre.

Rothafel moved the “Missouri Rockets” to Radio City Music Hall for its opening night on Dec. 27th, 1932 where they performed a routine to the song “With a Feather in Your Cap.” He dubbed the chorus line the “Roxyettes,” and two years later, ththe dancers officially became the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes.

Since their inception more than 90 years ago, the Rockettes legacy has been unwavering—countless young dancers have dreamed of becoming Rockettes, with more than 3,000 making it to the Great Stage.

“When we [former Rockettes] put our tap shoes on, we share that camaraderie,” says Cheryl C. who was a Rockette from 1993 to 2008. “This really is a sisterhood.”