Rockettes celebrate 85th season at 'Radio City Christmas Spectacular'
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When Elaine Winslow-Redmond moved to the Village of Buchanan from Manhattan's Upper East Side 11 years ago, her job as a professional Rockette helped her break the ice with neighbors. "It's a quaint town where everyone knows everyone," she said, "except for me when I moved in."
Today, although she's no longer performing the high kicks herself, Winslow-Redmond's helping those who do as the head athletic trainer and athletic training program director for the Rockettes, who celebrate their 85th year of performing when the "Radio City Christmas Spectacular" season kicks off Nov. 9.
The Rockettes' rigorous schedule, which can include up to six shows a day in December, requires plenty of athletic preparation. Winslow-Redmond, whose job is to "oversee most of the aspects of health and wellness for the Rockettes," and her team of trainers -- four at Radio City and two who travel with the touring group -- advise dancers on how to prevent injuries, help them work on their strength and conditioning, and prepare them for hundreds of shows in such a short period of time.
"We treat them as athletes, the same way you would treat anyone playing on a Division I team," she said.
Before becoming head athletic trainer, Winslow-Redmond was a Rockette for 11 years, 10 of which were spent at Radio City. And this year, she's getting the chance to reminisce a bit, thanks to a new feature of the show -- a retrospective of costumes used in the past. "It really brings back some memories for me," she said. "It's fun to see the costumes I've worn."
Though she grew up in the small town of Walpole, Mass., Winslow-Redmond's connection to the "Christmas Spectacular" started early. Two of her dance teachers were former Rockettes, and although she began her career as a ballerina, "When I moved to New York, I gave myself a five-year goal to become a Rockette," she said.
Now that she has checked that goal off her list, she has replaced it with others.
"My job now is to better educate the dancers on what to expect and what physical systems they need to prepare," said Winslow-Redmond, who earned a master's degree in exercise physiology and nutrition from Columbia University and is a licensed athletic trainer and an emergency medical technician.
Though the holidays are the busiest season for the dancers and Winslow-Redmond, the job of a Rockette is becoming a year-round commitment. The women have performed at NBA halftime shows and appeared in film cameos. Recently, they even performed at an annual Zumba convention. The Latin dance/exercise program "embraces that same motto of moving with passion," Winslow-Redmond said. And starting next year, the Rockettes will also appear on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship based out of New York.
But do the dancers deserve to be called the hardest-working women in show business?
"I absolutely know they deserve that title," Winslow-Redmond said. "There's really nothing comparable to what they do. ... Even professional athletes don't play four games a day."
And like professional athletes, it's all about working together to put on a great show.
"We're the epitome of teamwork," Winslow-Redmond said. "Together we're better, and we know it."
IF YOU GO
When: Performances take place from Nov. 9 through Dec. 30, with up to six shows per day during peak weekends
Info: Radio City Music Hall, 1260 Sixth Ave., Manhattan; 866-858-0007; www.radiocitychristmas.com; $39-$299 per ticket, $49 orchestra seats valid on all shows through Nov. 18 (enter code 49RCCS)