For 90 years, the Radio City Rockettes have thrilled audiences with their precision dance routines.
About fifteen years ago, during a touring show at the Fox Theatre, the Rockettes left a big impression on a little girl. Joanna Richardson was in high school, visiting the show with her dance studio. “Before the first number was over, I had tears running down my face. I said, ‘That is what I want to do mom,'” said Richardson by phone from New York where the Rockettes are prepping for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
It would take four tries before Richardson, who was raised in Stone Mountain, became a Rockette. She remembers calling her mom to celebrate. “I was so excited to share that moment with her,” she said.
This year, Richardson is celebrating 10 years with the group. She has toured through Atlanta twice with the Rockettes and enjoyed performing in her hometown.
Joanna Richardson of Stone Mountain is celebrating 10 years with the Radio City Rockettes. MSG Entertainment.
“It is a tradition for my family to see me wherever I am performing. [My mom] has seen the production so many times there are probably numbers she could perform herself,” Richardson said. Her family is already planning their trip to New York City for this year’s production which begins Nov. 13 and runs through Jan. 3 at Radio City Music Hall.
“It is such an exciting production,” said Richardson. “Each year we re-imagine it and try to create a new experience for our audience.”
The show still features traditional routines that have been part of the Christmas Spectacular show since 1933 such as the Parade of the Wooden Soldiers and the Living Nativity. There are also new aspects including the Snow, which features GPS enabled snowflakes and Rag Doll, a revamping of the routine first performed in the 1940s.
After 10 years with the team, Richardson says what she values most is the sisterhood. “We do four shows a day and more than 300 kicks per show. You have a connection with these other women on stage,” she said. And while each of them had a different path to the Rockettes, dancing with the troupe is a dream come true. “It is one of those jobs where there aren’t many positions and it is such a coveted job. We all love doing it,” she said.