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SPOTLIGHT ON FALL ARTS: The Rockettes to make stop in Atlanta

Joanna Richardson, left, and Alina Duncan, right, are two Rockettes who will be stopping by the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre for the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular” Nov. 7-23. (Staff Photo: Jason Braverman)

Joanna Richardson, left, and Alina Duncan, right, are two Rockettes who will be stopping by the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre for the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular” Nov. 7-23. (Staff Photo: Jason Braverman)

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The synchronized dancers act as wooden soldiers during “Radio City Christmas Spectacular.” (Special Photo)

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The Rockettes perform “New York at Chrismas” during “Radio City Christmas Spectacular,” which comes to Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre Nov. 7-23. (Special Photo)

ATLANTA — Christmas comes to metro Atlanta early this year when 18 women stop by the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in November.

That’s right — The Rockettes are bringing their high-kicking, precision dancing to town Nov. 7-23 with a new production of its iconic show “Radio City Christmas Spectacular.”

“We are thrilled to return to Atlanta at the Cobb Energy Centre with an all new production of the ‘Radio City Christmas Spectacular,’” said Don Simpson, executive vice president of productions at MSG Entertainment. “With new state-of-the-art technology coupled with dazzling new Rockettes choreography and performance elements, the 2013 production offers a truly immersive experience like nothing Atlanta audiences have ever seen. Returning audiences will be amazed by the transformation of the ‘Christmas Spectacular,’ and new fans will not want to miss this show.”

And by new, there are several additional dance numbers set in front of a 50-foot LED screen that takes the audience through New York City, hitting major landmarks during the holidays, and Santa’s workshop.

It may be 2013, but there are still many of the traditional numbers to be performed, like “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” and “The Living Nativity,” which have been a part of the show since The Rockettes’ inception in 1933.

“They are definitely traditional (numbers) that people look forward to,” said Joanna Richardson, who has been a Rockette for eight years. “Especially people that saw the show when they were younger and they’re bringing their children or grandchildren out to see the production to share that experience.”

Through the month of October, the women rehearse for hours, learning how to dance in their costumes, perfect backstage changes and memorize synchronized steps. During the “Wooden Soldiers” performance, the dancers can’t see forward due to the brim of their 24-inch tall hat. The Rockettes perform the entire number keeping their head erect but with their eyes focused on the floor to find their positions.

No one said being a Rockette was easy, but they do it to share the holiday spirit throughout the country.

“We are very lucky now that we can bring Christmas to other cities because obviously, not everyone can get to New York around the holidays,” Richardson said.

Beside performing, the dancers love seeing the young girls, who look up to the women.

“When you see a little girl in her Christmas dress, waving at you, you remember, ‘Oh yeah, I used to be that little girl,’” said Alina Duncan, a nine-year Rockette. “There is something for the whole family.”

The Rockettes have been around for more than eight decades. Duncan believes they’ve become an American icon because of the positive message they send out.

“I think one of the reasons it’s lasted so long is because we are the epitome of a classic women,” she said. “We’re strong, independent, glamorous, we’re in these luxurious costumes. We’re also a group of women together that are movements are very precise. We really believe that together we’re better. That’s how we’re able to put on the amazing show unlike anything else you’ll ever see.”

During “Christmas Spectacular,” the group appears in seven different costumes, so if they’re not on stage, they are backstage changing. Costumes swaps include new shoes, bracelets, gloves, head pieces and hats — as well as costumes.

“Heaven forbid you get a tear in your tights and have to change your tights,” Duncan said with a laugh. “We do this up to four times a day. Thank God for those dressers who help us backstage. We would be no where without them.”

Either way, both dancers agree that this is the show to kick off the holiday season.

“It’s a really fun, high energy performance,” Richardson said. “It’s really one that’s for the whole family. It’s a good wholesome, family show and it really helps to get people in the mood for the holidays.”