Get your holiday kicks with Rockettes' Christmas Spectacular

This year, get a taste of the holidays New York-style.

You don't have to hop on a flight to catch a performance of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, long a nostalgic favorite in the Big Apple. The spectacular comes to the Fox Theatre on Thursday and brings with it 35 shows starring the world-famous Rockettes and their equally famous eye-high kicks. The show runs through Dec. 4.

The 36-member kick line is the centerpiece of a show for all ages that features rollicking dance numbers, a living nativity, elves and Mr. and Mrs. Claus. The show will include the notable standards "The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" and "The Living Nativity," which have been performed since 1933. New events will include "The 12 Days of Christmas" tap performance and "Christmas in New York," a high-kicking number.

"I think this is such a wonderful opportunity for people who can't come up to New York to see the show," said Rockette Autumn Smith during a September phone interview. Now 25, Smith is enjoying her seventh year with the Rockettes and said she hopes to be a part of the precision dance troupe "as long as I can kick."

"It's such an honor to be a part of this," she said.

To be a Rockette, you must be between 5 feet 6 inches and 5 feet 101⁄2 inches tall, but that's only the tip of the iceberg. Rockette hopefuls also have to demonstrate proficiency in tap, ballet, jazz and modern dance.

"It's a very intense audition process," Smith said.

The Radio City Rockettes' first incarnation was as the "Missouri Rockets" in 1925. The group performed during Radio City Music Hall's opening night and have performed there for more than 70 years.

The Christmas Spectacular has been performed outside New York in major cities since 1994. The show premiered at the Fox in 2001 and is presented by Bank of America and in association with Theater of the Stars and Broadway in Atlanta.

It's tough for the Rockettes to be on the road so much, Smith said, but the performers form a close bond.

"We wind up hanging out together. We're very close, especially in the outer markets," she said. "We spend every holiday together."

n What: Radio City Christmas Spectacular

•When: Thursday through Dec. 4. Showtimes vary; visit www.foxtheatre.org for schedule.

•Where: Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St.

•Cost: Tickets range from $26.50 to $59.50 and can be purchased at the Fox Theatre box office, through Ticketmaster at 404-817-8700 or online at www.ticketmaster.com.

•Info: Visit www.radiocity.com