The Rockettes were out practicing their kicks yesterday, and other such fancy footwork at at St. Paul The Apostle Church. The Christmas Spectacular opens at Radio City on November 13th; buy a ticket before Jim Dolan kills them all off (actually, he won't)!

In December of 1964, LIFE magazine put the Rockettes on their cover, with a photo essay by Arthur Rickerby inside spotlighting the famous dance line, who were marking their 32nd year on stage. The focus in the issue was on five young newcomers to the dance group. Did you know the troupe was originally called the Missouri Rockets when formed in St. Louis? They changed to the Roxyettes upon their New York debut at the Roxy Theater; then finally the Rockettes upon taking the stage at Radio City Music Hall on December 27, 1932.

Not to be a downer, but, the troupe has a history of being predominantly white; the founder, Russell Markert, acknowledged that suntans were against Rockette rules because ''it would make her look like a colored girl.'' The first black dancer wasn't accepted into the line until 1987, and prior to that the notion was it would only distract from their symmetrical and consistent look. The NY Times reported on the change at the time, but from yesterday's practice it looks like not too much has changed since that small step in the '80s.