A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from October 11, 2004
The Rockettes are New York City's high-kicking dance company. The "Missouri Rockets" began in St, Louis in 1925, and were created by Russell Markert (1899-1990). In 1928, the company performed in New York's Roxy Theater as the "Roxyettes." When Radio City Music Hall opened in 1932, they became the "Rockettes."

Wikipedia: The Rockettes
The Rockettes are a precision dance company founded in 1925 in St. Louis, Missouri and since 1932 have performed out of Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan, New York City. During the Christmas season, the Rockettes present five shows a day, seven days a week. Perhaps their best-known routine is an eye-high leg kick in perfect unison in a chorus line, which they include at the end of every performance. Their style of dance is a mixture of modern dance and classic ballet. Auditions to become a Rockette are always in April in New York City. Women who audition must show proficiency in several genres of dancing, mainly ballet, tap, modern, and jazz. Normally, four hundred to five hundred women will audition yearly.

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular is performed annually at Radio City Music Hall. There are other numerous shows performed in American and Canadian cities by a touring company of Rockettes. It is one of the most-watched live shows in the United States, with over 2 million viewers per year. The Rockettes have performed annually at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade since 1957. The NBC Rockefeller Center Tree-Lighting Ceremony also traditionally includes a performance by the dance troupe.

Radio City Music Hall -- Rockettes
The History of the Rockettes
The Radio City Rockettes first kicked to life in 1925 as the "Missouri Rockets" and made their show business debut in St. Louis, the realization of a long-time dream of their creator, Russell Markert.

"I had seen the John Tiller girls in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1922," Markert once reminisced. "If I ever got a chance to get a group of American girls who would be taller and have longer legs and could do really complicated tap routines and eye-high kicks... they'd knock your socks off!"

At Radio City's opening night, on December 27, 1932, they did just that. The Rockettes, discovered and brought to New York by consummate showman S.L. (Roxy) Rothafel who first dubbed them the "Roxyettes," shared the stage with 17 diverse acts, among them the Flying Wallendas, Ray Bolger and Martha Graham.

28 January 1928, New York (NY) Times, pg. 14:
7 Ave. 50th St.
Jubliee Singers - Roxyettes

29 January 1928, New York (NY) Times, pg. 110:
The only incomprehensible blot on them both is the introduction of the Roxyettes, who, though quite all right in their own line, have no place at all in a classical ballet.

25 December 1932, New York (NY) Times, pg. 6:
The permanent features of Roxy's newest theatre - the Roxyettes, the ballet, the orchestra, the chorus - form an important part of all his bills. He has seen to it that their accommodations are comfortable and cheerful. In the course of the succeeding shows, which will be changed every month, the forty-eight Russell Markert Roxyettes, the large chorus directed by Leon Rosebrook, the orchestra of ninety, under the direction of Erno Rapee, the ballet trained by Florence Rogge - a total of several hundred persons - will all but make the music hall their home, with constant rehearsals and two performances a day.

13 April 1934, New York (NY) Times, pg. 25:
The stage show items include "Tropical Flowers," with the ballet corps, and "A Day in the Country," with Edwina Eustic, Evelyn Duerler, the Rockettes, ballet and choral ensemble.

31 July 1934, Wall Street Journal, pg. 3:
The stage show at the Music Hall features, among other divertissements, the Rockettes demonstrating their usual precision tricks with their hands and arms, and a riotously colorful Leon Leonidoff ballet that is bacchanalian and Hadean at once.

1 February 1935, Washington (DC) Post, "Broadway" by Ed Sullivan, pg. 12:
The Rockettes, precision dancers at Radio City MusicHall, are the best bet in the city for entertainment.

12 March 1937, Los Angeles (CA) Times, pg. A19:
The Radio City Rockettes, who appear in Jesse Lasky's "Radio City Revels," are unable to obtain leave of absence for the Hollywood jaunt and will perform their film chore in New York.

The WPA Guide to New York City
New York: Random House
New York: Pantheon Books
Pg. 338:
Another Music Hall superlative concerns the troupe of "Rockettes," whose claim to the title of "world's finest precision dancers" has never been challenged.

New York (NY) Times
3 December 1990, New York (NY) Times, pg. D11:
Russell Markert, 91, the Founder
And the Director of the Rockettes
Russell Market, the founder and longtime director of the Rockettes, died on Saturday at Waterbury Hospital in Connecticut. He was 91 years old and lived in Heritage Village in Southbury, Conn.

From the opening of Radio City Music Hall in Rockefeller Center in 1932 until Mr. Markert's retirement in 1971, he was the chief choreographer, image-preserver and rsident father-figure of the famous troupe of tall, svelte women.
Mr. Markert began his professional career on Broadway, graduated from the chorus to dance director of the annual revue "Earl Carroll's Vanities" and, in St. Louis in 1925, founded a women's precision troupe called the Missouri Rockets.

While playing in Manhattan, the group was spotted by the impresario S. L. (Roxy) Rothafel, who headlined them at the Roxy Theater as "The Roxyettes." They moved to the Music Hall for its 1932 opening and soon became the Rockettes.
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWorkers/People • Monday, October 11, 2004 • Permalink

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