The Rockettes are an American precision dance company. Founded 1925 in St. Louis, they have, since 1932, performed at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Until 2015, they also had a touring company. They are best known for starring in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, an annual Christmas show, and for performing annually since 1957 at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. 
There have been over 3,000 women who have performed as Rockettes since the New York Christmas Spectacular opening night in 1933.  [ better source needed ] The Rockettes also conduct the Rockette Summer Intensive for dancers aspiring to be Rockettes.
The Rockettes were originally inspired by the Tiller Girls, a precision dance company of the United Kingdom established by John Tiller in the 1890s. Tiller sent the first troupe of Tiller Girls to perform in the United States in 1900, and eventually there were three lines of them working on Broadway.  In 1922, choreographer Russell Markert saw one of these troupes, known as the Tiller Rockets, perform in the Ziegfeld Follies and was inspired to create his own version with American dancers. 
As Markert would later recall, "If I ever got a chance to get a group of American girls who would be taller and have longer legs and could do really complicated tap routines and eye-high kicks, they'd really knock your socks off."  They were originally called the Missouri Rockets. After the impresario Roxy brought them to New York for his Roxy Theatre, they were called the Roxyettes. Only later would they become the Rockettes, after Roxy and Radio City Music Hall parted ways.
The Rockettes have long been represented by the American Guild of Variety Artists (AVGA). In 1967, they won a month-long strike for better working conditions,  which was led by AGVA salaried officer Penny Singleton.  In August 2002, contract negotiations for the troupe's veteran members resulted in a buyout by the owners of Radio City Music Hall. Roughly a fourth of the veteran Rockettes were offered retirement options, while the remaining dancers were offered the opportunity to re-audition. 
The first non-white Rockette, a Japanese-born woman named Setsuko Maruhashi, was not hired until 1985.  The Rockettes did not allow dark-skinned dancers into the dance line until 1987.  The justification for this policy was that such women would supposedly distract from the consistent look of the dance group.  The first African American Rockette was Jennifer Jones; selected in 1987, she made her debut in 1988 at the Super Bowl XXIII halftime show.  The first person with a visible disability hired by the Rockettes (Sydney Mesher, missing a left hand due to symbrachydactyly) was hired in 2019. 
On August 1, 2007, the Rockettes were inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame. 
From 2002-2019 the Rockettes presented a dance training program called the Rockettes Summer Intensive. This weeklong dance education program offered aspiring dancers the opportunity to train with current Radio City Rockettes and choreographers and learn choreography from the Rockettes repertoire. Since its inception nearly 100 dancers from this program have become Rockettes.
In late 2016, the Madison Square Garden Company, which manages the troupe, agreed to have the Rockettes perform at the inauguration of Donald Trump.  According to a report in the New York Daily News , there was an initial "edict" to perform at the inaugural.  Immediately several Rockettes dissented,  including Rockette Phoebe Pearl who complained that she was being forced to perform at the inaugural against her wishes.  One Rockette felt reluctant to "perform for this monster", referring to president-elect Donald Trump, and another said she "wouldn't feel comfortable standing near a man like that in our costumes." 
Madison Square Garden issued a statement saying that "For a Rockette to be considered for an event, they must voluntarily sign up and are never told they have to perform at a particular event, including the inaugural. It is always their choice. In fact, for the coming inauguration, we had more Rockettes request to participate than we have slots available." Another report suggested that dancers were allowed to "opt-out" if they thought that they would feel uncomfortable performing. 
Many on social media believed attendance was mandatory, including Julissa Sabino, a performer who is part of the union, who tweeted that the issue "breaks my heart" and urged supporters to "help these ladies." Autumn Withers, a former Rockette, supported a boycott, saying "take a knee, ladies!"   In December 2016, according to The Atlantic , three of the thirteen full-time dancers had chosen to sit out the event.   The company danced to a medley of Irving Berlin songs at the Inaugural Ball on the evening of January 20. 
Radio City Music Hall is an entertainment venue and theater at 1260 Avenue of the Americas, within Rockefeller Center, in the Midtown Manhattan neighborhood of New York City. Nicknamed "The Showplace of the Nation", it is the headquarters for the Rockettes. Radio City Music Hall was designed by Edward Durell Stone and Donald Deskey in the Art Deco style.
Samuel Lionel "Roxy" Rothafel was an American theatrical impresario and entrepreneur. He is noted for developing the lavish presentation of silent films in the deluxe movie palace theaters of the 1910s and 1920s.
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The Tiller Girls were among the most popular dance troupes of the 1890s, first formed by John Tiller in Manchester, England, in 1889. In theatre Tiller had noticed the overall effect of a chorus of dancers was often spoiled by lack of discipline. Tiller found that by linking arms the dancers could dance as one; he is credited with inventing precision dance. Possibly most famous for their high-kicking routines, the Tiller Girls were highly trained and precise.
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The Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes is an annual musical holiday stage show presented at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The 90-minute show features more than 140 performers and an original musical score, and combines singing, dancing, and humor with traditional scenes. The star performers are the women's precision dance troupe the Rockettes. Since the first version was presented in 1933, the show has become a New York Christmas tradition.
John Thomas Ibbotson Tiller was a musical theatre director who was credited with inventing precision dance and was the originator of the 'Tiller Girls'.
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Several high-profile musicians including Elton John and Celine Dion have refused to perform at the event....
...Dolan announced that The Rockettes...would perform for Trump. Immediately, individual dancers began to dissent....
...Out of the 13 full-time, year-round Rockettes, three have already decided to sit out the event....
Media related to The Rockettes at Wikimedia Commons