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By Ashley Rivers
*Update: MSG Entertainment has postponed the premiere of Heart and Lights until 2015.
The Rockettes’ new show, Heart and Lights, veers from the troupe’s classic routines.
Jazz hands and bowler hats: Heart and Lights has Fosse stylings. Photo courtesy MSG Entertainment.
This month, the Radio City Rockettes will debut a new show—though the holidays are long past. Heart and Lights, the troupe’s first spring engagement since 1997, brings new choreography to the Rockettes’ precision kickline, including Fosse-style jazz, contemporary, tap and hip hop. “We’re moving in a way that you’re not used to seeing,” says nine-year Rockette veteran Stacy Paydo, who will perform in the show’s run at Radio City Music Hall, March 27–May 4. “Audiences used to seeing us in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular are going to see something a little more athletic and definitely more contemporary.”
The story of Heart and Lights follows two young cousins discovering their grandmother’s past in New York City. During their journey, the Rockettes bring landmarks to life through eight numbers set to popular music from the past 50 years. As in the Christmas Spectacular, Heart and Lights will feature extensive technological effects. In its “Electricity” number, the dancers wear LED jackets programmed to correspond to the music and choreography. A scene set in Central Park features GPS-guided kites that fly through the theater. And the show will use puppetry, including a 26-foot tall Statue of Liberty and lions from the front of the New York Public Library.
Director and choreographer Linda Haberman tapped a cast of 36 women and four swings for the 59 shows. (In contrast, Christmas Spectacular employs double the number of dancers, divided into two casts that split over 200 performances.) The new production will offer some Rockettes nearly year-round dance work. And there’s more to come: Though there are currently no plans for a tour, the Rockettes’ parent company, MSG Entertainment, plans on making Heart and Lights an annual tradition. As dancer Paydo says, “The Rockettes are dancing more, and harder, than we ever have before.”