Rockette fuel

By Kristen Baker

For audiences across the country, the Radio City Rockettes Christmas Extravaganza performance is a traditional part of the holiday season. The Rockettes, tall beauties known for their in-sync high kicks, are holiday icons beloved by all ages.

The Rockettes will bring the Radio City Christmas Spectacular to Wichita's Intrust Bank Arena for five performances November 20-21. Behind the wide smiles and perfectly made-up faces of the Rockettes lie women who care deeply about spreading the Christmas spirit to each member of their audience.

Four Rockettes stopped by Wichita in August for their Kick Across America event. The Rockettes solicited kicks from the public, and with more than one million live or virtual kicks, the organization donated thousands of tickets to the Garden of Dreams Foundation. The Foundation will allow underprivileged children to attend Rockettes performances across the country.

We are truly giving things to the people around us (when we do charity events), said Kate Vallee, who has been a Rockette for four years. It's about the true meaning of the holiday.

All four of the visiting Rockettes said the fact that their show celebrates the Christmas holiday is meaningful to them. Growing up, my mom and dad dressed in red or green from Thanksgiving on, said Mary Capellas, who has a staggering 12 years of experience as a Rockette. It (Christmas) has always, to me, been the warmest and my favorite holiday. To be able to do something that centers around the holidays is an amazing experience.

To arrive at a place in their lives where they are able to share their gift of dance with thousands of people each holiday season, the women had to undertake long journeys of dedication to dance. Jessica Osborne remembers falling in love with dance while watching Dirty Dancing as a child. When Jennifer Gray jumped into Patrick Swayze's arms, I loved that. I was struck by any sort of movement, and it was internal.

Osborne said her parents placed her in dance classes at the age of three. My legs were always really long, all my limbs were, and they were always flailing around. I think my mom decided anything that would harness that energy in a positive way was a good thing.

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