We hear a lot about celebrities in the Hamptons. But a real, live (and kicking) Radio City Rockette? Yes, we have one in our midst (well, when she’s not rehearsing and performing in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which opened on November 5).
Heather Langham is literally living her dream. Currently in her 12th season as a world-famous Radio City Rockette, she says the path to landing the job “took a little longer than some.” Six auditions over 10 years, to be exact. Her persistence paid off. She started auditioning when she was 19 years old and at age 29, she got the call — she would indeed be a member of the longest running precision dance company in America. “It’s a surreal moment,” says Langham. “I remember shaking and just being in shock and obviously crying … I was overwhelmed with emotion.”
Growing up in Arizona, the seed to become a professional dancer was planted early. Langham’s mom owned a dance studio and she recalls the family tradition that prompted her dream: “We watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade every Thanksgiving and I would see the Rockettes dancing and at the time I was 13 and I was already 5’ 8” — and you have to be 5’ 6” to 5’ 10 ½” to be a Rockette — so I knew at a young age that it was a dream that I could work towards and make happen.”
Langham says, “It’s been a fun journey,” adding, “I wouldn’t trade anything for the path that I took to get here, because that actually in turn allowed me to meet my husband (Nick) seven years ago.” (They met at Barry’s Boot Camp in Tribeca.)
She first came out east with Nick in 2016. The couple would stay at Hamptons Green (now The Roundtree) in Amagansett and after that first summer together here, they began renting a house. In 2019, they bought a place in Southampton. When the Christmas Spectacular was cancelled last season due to COVID, it meant living out east for most of the year. She and Nick set up a gym in their garage and a dance studio in the basement which she says was “a great escape.” Langham also got to “experience the change of seasons,” something she missed growing up in the desert.
“I’m so happy that I’m doing the Christmas show and I love being a part of the Christmas Spectacular but what I do miss is being out there in the fall for all the apple picking and whatnot,” she says, wistfully.
After considering retirement last year, she is back and excited to be dancing on stage again at the iconic Radio City Musical Hall. With the season kick-off, she is working six days a week and performing up to 12 shows a week. When she can catch her breath, she says she can’t wait to get back out east.
We caught up with Heather Langham to talk about this year’s Christmas Spectacular, what it’s like to be a Radio City Rockette and what she loves about the East End.
What’s new this year at the Christmas Spectacular?
We have snow coming back to the show! It left our show in 2017 … and now it’s back; we are really excited about that. … It’s actually an added number so the Rockettes are now in 9 numbers as opposed to 8 numbers in the past — so a lot more dancing for us on the stage. And we have a new storyline which I think is really cute and warms the heart and is meaningful to us as Rockettes onstage. I just think that the audience is really going to love it this year.
Do you have a favorite costume?
I would have to say my favorite costume is “Snow” so I’m so happy that it’s back — there are six different designs and six different colors in the snow costume which kind of represents the idea that every Rockette is an individual and then we come on stage to create this picture of cohesiveness that is exactly what the Rockettes are about.
What are the Rockettes about?
I believe the Rockettes are about strength and glamour and just the idea that women support women, and we have to get through it together — it’s not about one single person, it’s about collaborating and coming together to create something special. … We are all still working towards one similar — the same goal — and I think that’s just really powerful and special to see.
Being in a room and learning the show with 84 women (two casts of 42; 36 onstage and six swings) is pretty amazing if you ask me. It kind of gives me the chills.
What’s the audition process like?
It’s a two-day process — they go through multiple cuts. The first time I actually auditioned I made it through all of the rounds and made it to the final rounds, which is where they’ll video tape you and then they’ll consider you for the next season.
Every Rockette has to audition to get their job back every year and depending on how many Rockettes come back, (that) allows for an open spot.
What do you do when you are not dancing as a Rockette?
The rest of the year I teach dance for local high schools or local colleges. I have worked with some kids’ clinics on Long Island, in Smithtown, and I also work with the Rockettes in the off-season (Tony Awards, television specials and other events).
Any favorite Out East End spots?
Summers are obviously great! We have a lot of our friends come out and visit … being able to relax by the pool or go to the beach or go to fun restaurants — Calissa was one of our favorites … Pellegrino’s a great family place … and in Bridgehampton we usually go to Bobby Van’s. … Oh, and I’m obsessed with goat yoga! I do that over at Corwith Farms right over in Water Mill. Our favorite beach is Flying Point.
How do you keep your energy up for this gig?
Definitely vitamins and since we’re inside, a lot of Vitamin D; that’s very important. … For the recovery process I do salt baths at home, Epsom salts, we ice our bodies, so I do an ice bath at home … and massage therapy on a day off just to release the tension of the muscles. I think keeping your body healthy and eating the right foods and just eating food — because our metabolism is going crazy … I (also) eat a lot of pizza. [laughs]
What’s the most exciting thing about being a Radio City Rockette?
Being on the stage and looking out at the audience and seeing everyone that came to see this show and just the smiles on their faces and knowing that we’re giving something so special to them. We’re giving a memory that they’ll share with their family and they can go back and see the show every single year — and bring their grandma and bring their daughters and bring their children — that legacy can continue as you grow older. … That’s something so special to be able to give to people, as well as for myself — it’s become a tradition every year to be a part of it.
I get to dance with and next to 35 amazing women every single day during this season and there’s something really special about 36 women coming together to create a show that’s so powerful and amazing. I feel like we need that now.
The 2021 Christmas Spectacular featuring the Radio City Rockettes runs from November 5 through January 2. Tickets start at $49 and can be purchased online at rockettes.com/christmas. Note: All guests will need to follow venue protocols in place at the time of their performance., so be sure to continue to check rockettes.com/FAQ.