Sunday, January 4, 2009


Going to the Radio City Christmas Show was a family tradition when I was growing up. Each year about this time, we would faithfully take 3 subways from the South Bronx where we lived to Radio City Music Hall in Rockefeller Center. We usually arrived early so we could find seats close to the stage. Mitten clad. Bundled from head to toe. Watching our breath crystallize in the frosty air. We waited eagerly on line with all the other families. Lines in NY are usually long but surprisingly orderly… for the most part. Invariably, someone at this much anticipated event would discover a long lost aunt at the head of the queue 15 minutes to show time. New Yorkers are anything but naïve. Everyone knew what was going on but overlooked the peccadillo because after all, it was Christmas. If we were lucky, the chestnut vendor would roll his cart up the street. We would pry off a mitten and warm our fingers against the steamy bag. Crack open the compliant casing rodent style to get to the coveted morsel.

The show was spectacular. Pure magic. Sitting in the front row, we were mesmerized by the synchronized high kicks, the dazzling costumes, the “mighty Wurlitzer” organ pipes chiming stereophonically. The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers was a grand precision number. Meticulously choreographed, human phalanxes kaleidoscopically morphed into starbursts, then converged into a razor sharp line. The performance climaxed as a cannon set off a human chain of dominoes, each dancer collapsing into the one before her.

The Rockettes are not usually associated with “serious” dance. To dispel any misperceptions, here are some remarkable facts about the dance company. During the Christmas season, the group has performed five shows a day, seven days a week, for 75 years. Mark Franko, chief dance critic for the New York Times, described their work as the most “complete abstraction as it is possible for the human body to attain.”

When I heard the Rockettes were coming to the Mall of America, I suggested to my husband that we go to see them. We are not mall goers. In fact, we go out of our way to avoid these curious homogenized meccas of commerce. Curiously, this time, Chris offered no resistance. It was easy to find the dance site, since there was a healthy crowd gathering. The Rockettes were as glamorous as I remembered them to be. Luckily I had my camera. This time I would not leave the experience to memory.

I love candid shots of people. I’m pretty brazen about it. I eased myself through the barricades behind the security line and started clicking the shutter. Here are the results. I hope you enjoy the photos.

More to come soon on rituals and traditions, old and new.

With best wishes to everyone for a new year filled with peace, joy and inspiration.


the walking man said...

I say a man should never anger a woman who could kick him in the chin and remain smiling while doing so...glad you had a good day though.

Catherine said...

Wow, ça c'est Paris!
Perfect for Ruby!
Happy Ruby Tuesday, Gabrielle,

Your EG Tour Guide said...

Peace to you, too!

Raven said...

Considering that I lived in NY for most of my life, I only made it to Radio City and the Rockettes once. Nice post and fun photos. Good candid shots.

The Arthur Clan said...

This is perfect for Ruby Tuesday ~ what fun! Thanks for sharing the story behind the photos.

Dianne said...

we used to go to the Christmas Show every year too and then I always took my son

you describe the experience so perfectly!!

the top photo is exquisite!

Robin said...

Beautiful shots, and beautiful memories.

Chestnuts don't taste as good anywhere else, do they?

Izzy 'N Emmy said...

Wow, great job! My favorites are the top two! Sneaky really paid off for you!

Lisa said...

I would like to see the Rockettes. Your photos are great.

I found myself at the Mall of America last July. I am not a shopper. I sat on a bench, people watched and called friends, while my younger daughter and husband did the amusement park. My 21 year old daughter was seriously jealous, as she lives in Florida, a bit to far to make the trip.

We had fun in MN. We went to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum.My daughter wanted to meet the twins who were on the TV show. It was worth driving over 1000 miles to see her excitement.

Dr.John said...

Looks like you had a great time and one that brought back lots of memories.

Julie said...

What perfect red shots, my husband wouldn't have objected to going to the mall either under those circumstances.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I saw your comment over at Dianne's, and just had to come visit the person who wrote so stirringly about Martin Luther King....I too, grew up in New York and spent a great deal of time at The Radio City Music was a magical place, in every way, for ALL the reasons you said, plus...It was SOOOOOO Very Beautiful! The Theatre itself, the lobby's, the Ladies Room....ALL, Beautiful!
The Rockettes: NO ONE LIKE THEM, EVER! They are the Hardest Working Dancers in Show Business!!!
I must believe they are still DAncing at The Music Hall....I LOVE that they came there to your town, so to speak, and that they STILL held the great Magic of their precise, beautiful routines!

It is great to meet you!

gabrielle said...

The walking man - this gives a whole new meaning to R-E-S-P-E-C-T!!! Thanks. I tread very softly on the past and am very selective about the memories I stir. These were good ones.

Catherine = Oui, bien sur. Le moulin rouge. the city of lights. Thank you for stopping by.

EG - Peace and infinite blessings.

Raven - Thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed and hope that it revived happy memories.

the arthur clan - Thanks for stopping by. My pleasure.

Dianne - Thank you Dianne. I'm happy that you also partook of this

Robin - Thanks so much. I haven't indulged recently. I prefer to remember them as they were.

Izzy -Thank you. It's a secret pleasure.

Lisa - The mall is wonderful for people watching. I'm glad you enjoyed your visit. 1000 miles!!!
Where do you call home?

Dr John - I had a wonderful time and am happy to be able to share it.

Julie - Thanks! I find it’s wonderful to be able to share an appreciation of women with my husband.

Old Lady of the Hills – Welcome. I can tell from your description that you too savored the experience of Radio City Music Hill. And yes, the Rockettes are still going strong after 75 years!!! Glad the story stirred happy memories for you.