For the Radio City Rockettes, the days leading up to opening night of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular are a flurry of nine-hour rehearsals, costume fittings, and yes, lots of holiday music. But this year, just 48 hours before their big curtain call, the world famous dancers took a break from their high kicks to do a little “One, Two Step.”
None other than Ciara, the R&B icon and creator of what might be the catchiest dance craze of our generation, was visiting New York City’s historic Radio City Music Hall the next day, and the ladies had to be prepared.
The visit was a celebration of sorts for the Rockettes, who were not only gearing up for their 2018 debut, but also taking a moment to fete the launch of two limited edition Rockettes-inspired charms and gift sets with Pandora Jewelry, a brand that Ciara often partners with. And how do the Rockettes celebrate, you ask? With a holiday-themed dance class of course.
Though they’re used to bold-faced names like Oprah, Beyoncé, and Katie Holmes coming backstage after the show for a friendly meet-and-greet (Holmes even brought them Magnolia Bakery cupcakes), the Rockettes haven’t had a star stop by to actually try to dance with them — until now. And if anyone stands a chance of keeping up, it would be Ciara, one of the best dancers in the game, albeit one known for an entirely different type of choreography.
“Oh, I’m totally fangirling right now,” Rockette Samantha Berger told InStyle minutes before their class began. Adds Rockette Sophie Holloway, “She’s such a gifted dancer, it’s amazing. Today we’re going to teach her some of our moves, and she’s going to teach us some of hers. We’re so excited!”
Turns out, the feeling was mutual. “The Rockettes are iconic,” said Ciara. “But I’ve never been able to go to one of their shows, so this is the closest I can get to it!” For the star, the chance to take a class with the famed high kickers was fulfilling a dance fantasy that she’s had since she was a little girl. “It’s pretty cool for me because growing up, I didn’t have the luxury of being able to take dance classes,” she said. “I always say my mom, my dad, and my grandmother were my dance teachers, and the living room was my dance hall. That was the closest I got to training. So now, I have an even greater appreciation when I work with dancers who are professionally trained — I get to learn about technique, and all of the different details that I wouldn’t think about otherwise. It’s awesome.”
After excited intros were made (“Ciara said she was a little nervous to dance with us and I think we’re a little nervous too,” said Rockette Lindsay Howe), the women spread out in a rehearsal room tucked away in Radio City and turned up the music.
First up, were the Rockettes, who taught Ciara and a group of journalists including editors from InStyle, part of a routine from this year’s Christmas Spectacular and spilled all of the secrets behind their precision-level kicks. “We kick eye-high and do up to 300 kicks per show,” noted Berger. “Obviously not all of the Rockettes are the same height, so we always put the tallest women in the center and the shortest at the ends to create an optical illusion that we’re kicking at the same height.”
When Ciara joined in on the ladies’ kickline, they offered another insider tip. “When we actually do the kickline, we link up together, but we don’t actually touch,” said Rockette Mindy Moeller. “We are all holding our own, so that we’re not pulling on each other in any way.” Ciara aced the choreography (in sky-high stiletto booties, no less), and then she took a turn teaching the group some moves from her new single, Dose, which included a step-by-step tutorial of exactly how she struts around in the video.
So how does learning the kickline choreography compare to doing her own routines like the “One, Two Step”? “Well, they’re very different things,” Ciara said with a laugh. “I have to say that the Rockettes’ routine might require a bit more effort, though, especially when you have to do the actual kicking.”
The 33-year-old star is used to putting in the work. Over the last few months, she’s been logging long hours in both the recording studio and the dance studio putting the finishing touches on her upcoming seventh album, expected to drop next year. And as a busy mom of two, sometimes that means bringing her kids along with her to rehearsals. A few weeks back, she showed off some impressive mommy multitasking when she Instagrammed a video of a recent rehearsal where she was holding Sienna, her one-year-old daughter with husband Russell Wilson, while she practiced with her backup dancers. “This is what a rehearsal looks like for me now,” she captioned the video (below). “She cried when I put her down, so this was the result.”
Ciara says that her mini-me loves coming to work with her whenever dancing is involved. “She loves to dance,” she said. “That day she was having so much fun and she just wanted to be a part of it, so I was just like ‘Okay mama, come on, let’s do this.’ When the music stops she would say, ‘More, more.’ She’s my little dancing partner. I’m just curious to see what she’s going to be like when she gets older.” Maybe she’ll be joining the kickline — if her mom is her dance teacher, she’s learning from the best.
Pandora Jewelry’s limited edition holiday charms and ornaments, inspired by the Rockettes, are available now. The Christmas Spectacular starring the Radio City Rockettes runs now through January 1, 2019.