Co-Ordination That Would Blow Your Mind: Viral Video of the Rockettes Performing the Toy Soldier Dance
One of the best performances in the history of contemporary dance is the “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers,” first performed in 1933 by 36 women who shook the world with a perfectly coordinated domino-like descent that remains iconic in the world of performing arts.
Dancers fall occasionally while performing. Sometimes, it’s part of the choreography while other times, it’s unintentional. This particular fall, in my opinion, is yet to be rivaled by any other choreographed descent in recent times.
The choreography is part of the “Christmas Spectacular” performed by The Rockettes, an American precision dance company. The company started in 1925 in Missouri and they’ve performed at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan, New York City, since 1932. Thirty-six women wearing Vincente Minnelli’s soldier costumes move with machine-like precision and in impossible unison around the stage.  At the end of the six-minute performance, they would close the show with an incredible “fall like dominoes” that never fails to get the world cheering.
Months of endless practice
To fall into such a highly coordinated routine, the 36 dancers would have to spend several months practicing tirelessly to perfect their moves and get their mind-blowing act together. They are required to have perfectly toned bodies and flexible joints to make their sharp turns and quick rotations. During the performance, the dancers move their necks in funny stiff movements to make the cute feather plumes on their hats dance along with them.
For the choreographers, the dance is not merely one more routine to get over with. A lot of the Rockettes develop sentimental attachments to the dance and get emotional when their performance is over.
She explains that the fall is the most important part of the routine and one tiny slip-up could ruin everything. “We’re thinking of staying completely flat all the way down,” she said. “If you’re even just a centimeter off, then the fall can go wonky.”
The iconic fall usually starts at a very slow speed from the first dancer. As she leans onto the next few ladies, the speed accelerates ever so slightly. With the small amount of space between them, a slight increase in weight would send only a few dancers down. The fall speed increases significantly when it gets to the 13th dancer. She now has a lot more weight on her to allow a quicker descent.
When it gets to the 26th woman, the crash becomes rapid and everyone goes down in one perfectly-aligned swoop! This is usually the part where the audience would go up in a thundering ovation.
In 2016, Duncan was placed in front of the line and her role was very critical to the fall. She was to maintain a perfect plank position or risk halting the fall too early.
Watch the full video of the Toy Soldier Routine performed by the Rockettes in 2014: