Change your words. Change your world.

One Performance Through The Eyes Of Many – The Lessons Learned From The Rockettes

After a lengthy delayed travelling experience, the comfort of my hotel bed was calling to me , but after a good dose of Christmas spirit injected into me from my friends, we were on our way to spend our evening watching the legendary Rockettes!   With incredibly jet lagged eyes, I was a little worried that my tiredness would soon transport me to my own personal dreamland. My fears were quickly removed because as soon as you step inside the beautiful theatre at Radio City Music Hall, you are transported into a world of fantasy, imagination and creativity.  The show was nothing short of a world class spectacle!


I was curious to find out what my friends had learnt from this magical experience.  A conversation quickly ignited and an array of diverse insights were shared as the performance was evaluated through our different lenses.  The following paragraphs explore the lessons learnt and I challenge you to reflect upon the messaging as you prepare for your opportunities in the year ahead.

The importance of hard work and precision

Did you know that the Rockettes rehearse six hours a day, six days a week, for six weeks prior to the show period, but does the work before the work stop there?  If you rewind even further you could add the years of training, auditions and experiences gained along the way which have all contributed to the hard work ethic required to make the cut. The care and commitment for excellence was clear to be seen from all that were involved, each completing their roles at the highest level to create an amazing experience for the audience.

When was the last time you reflected on your own personal journey and celebrated the hard work that you have grafted to get you to where you are today?

By nature, being human can lead to some of us being judgemental.  Whilst some looked for imperfections, the attention to detail and the need for precision was exceptional, the dancing was absolutely flawless.  Whether your career leads you to the stage, a classroom or supporting others to achieve their goals, the accuracy and dedication required to execute professionalism is paramount.

What are the areas of your work that you are most proud of?

Where has your dedication to a high level of precision supported those that you serve?

Determination to succeed and overcome challenges

A wise person once said that you should never work with animals and children on stage.  The Rockettes cast put themselves in a vulnerable position working with a number of animals to increase the authenticity of the show.  Whilst trained animals for the most part perform brilliantly, there are some occasions when their unpredictability can lead to unplanned moments.  You only need to ask the camel handler who had to deal with it spooking twice during the performance we watched!  This highlighted the need for determination to succeed, even when things do not go as planned.   I know this to be true from sharing many classroom experiences and I am sure those of you who speak from the stage have had to adapt your intended keynote during the performance.

Can you think of a moment when you had to pivot and overcome the pressure to still perform?

Use your experience

There was also reflection from those that used to be part of kicklines and dance groups.  The performance evoked memories from a forgotten past and this set root to a new challenge and one that I urge you to explore.

What moments or experiences from your past could you lean into to enhance your performance? It could be storytelling in a keynote or even examples that you share in a workshop to reinforce learning. Be curious and explore your memory bank, who do you know that could benefit from your experience?

Joy and happiness

When was the last time you experienced something through childlike eyes? I bet that some of you are a bit like me and can get wrapped up in the fast pace that life can create and forget what it is like to live life in the moment? 

The Rockettes provided an opportunity for escapism and a moment to absorb the marvel that only the arts can create.  Looking at the sheer joy and happiness on the faces of the audience, it emphasized that life is for living, enjoying yourself and imagining the possibilities along the journey.

Contrastly, how would you feel if you had looked forward to something for a long time, for it to not live up to expectations?

The consistency shown by all involved is a stark reminder that each time we present to an audience, you have a responsibility to perform to the individual.

Could it be possible that if you brought more thought and intentionality to the people you serve, you could make even more impact?

The importance of teamwork

For the Rockettes to fulfil their ambition of transporting the audience to a land of festive make believe, not only do they rely on their dancing partners to execute the routines perfectly, there is a huge support team helping to bring it all together.  The stewards, orchestra, AV team, choreographers, cleaners, merchandise staff and many other important roles that I have not mentioned, all play a crucial role in aiding the performance. This highlights the importance of teamwork.

Just out of curiosity, when was the last time you reflected on the people that support you and celebrated their involvement in helping achieve your goals?  Could it be possible that this extra thought of recognition could help you to achieve more? 

We cannot fulfil our dreams without the help of others

Trusting the people that support you is mandatory, we cannot fulfil our dreams without the help from others.  Just imagine what would happen if the baby steps the Rockettes took in the middle of the soldier line were too big?  The perfect straight line, turning its circle, would look very different to the wonder that it created.

If you do not have the level of trust you require, how certain are you that you are working with the right people?  Do you have the necessary anchors in your world to help you bring everything together?

Embracing the need to evolve and change

There are two types of people when it comes to teaching others, those that rely on their tried and tested methods or those that embrace the need to evolve and change.  Through the advancement of technology the Rockettes’ show has transformed from technical dance routines, to becoming a multi-layered entertainment experience.  The 3D effects, moving orchestra, incredible lighting and sound have all been reinvented over the years to enhance the experience. Reinvention can not only ignite evolution, but can also create an element of surprise too!

If you embraced the ever changing technological improvements to support your expertise, could it be possible that the value you provide and the impact you make is amplified? 

Be supportive

Whilst watching a performance you may think that the show is completed by a team of professionals that have carried out their roles many times previously.  In reality somewhere along the chain, there is going to be someone for whom this is their first time.   We need to be supportive of those in this situation as they will most definitely need to slow things down to speed things up.  Before you make up your mind about somebody else, aim to be more open minded whenever you encounter a new person.

Could you try to be more curious about other people’s positioning before you jump to judgement?

Reflection for improvement

The team behind the Rockettes all belong to something bigger than themselves.  Each member has their responsibilities and with the power of collaboration, it creates the sensational experience that it is known around the world.  There are of course moments when mistakes are made, imposter syndrome sets in and fear or doubt occur.  Some of the team may also be highly self critical. With the mindset of aiming to be just that bit better each show, best performance will always be exceeded.  For most people this mindset will lead to the improvements that need to be made. 

As you reflect on your performance, could you take forward this approach and make the marginal gains to help you elevate?

Be clear on your intentions and messaging

There is a clear intention to cater for the whole audience throughout the show. For example, the technical dance routines and the use of humour,  the breathtaking lighting, to the note perfect music. The messaging throughout is also carefully planned, but at the same time, could it be possible that they are alienating some of the audience? The religious nativity moments could disaffect those from different religions and cultures.

Think carefully about the messaging that you portray, could you approach things differently to avoid conflict?

Salary expectations

With the years of training required and the prestige that comes from the fame of being in the Rockettes they should all be incredibly proud of their achievements.  For most this will be the pinnacle of their careers, the prized trophy in their cabinet.  For such an accolade you would expect to be compensated highly for their achievements.  In fact, their average salary as of December 2023 is only $21.79 an hour.  Being at the top of your field does not always correlate to the salary or fee that you would expect.  Looking at pay in this context, if you are fortunate to be earning significantly more than this amount, be grateful as many others do not get that luxury.

What can you consume from a performance to level up?

The conversations that my friends shared that day really did open my eyes to what can be learnt from a single performance.  If I were to recall the insights from a different group of people, their takeaways could be totally different, a complete range of different perspectives that we could learn even more from.

Next time you are in an audience, could you watch the performance through the lens of what you can consume? What notes could you take or what moments inspire you to level up your own performance?

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