They’re known for their eye-high kicks, precision moves and glamorous looks.

When the Radio City Rockettes come to Ottawa to perform at Scotiabank Place for the first time this Sunday, audiences will see the arena production of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular — a show well-known at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.

But behind the smiles and moves that show hundreds of rehearsal hours are American and Canadian girls who consider each other best friends and are still thrilled, after many years on the job, to be performing in a longstanding classic.

Vancouver resident Julie Tomaino still remembers the day, more than five years ago, that she got the job.

“I jumped up and down, cried and called my mom, in that order, in about three minutes,” she said.

Windsor’s Jocelyn Levesque had a similar reaction. “I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d get it,” she said. Eight years later, she still calls the feeling of being on stage “amazing.”

Being a Rockette means rehearsals six hours a day, six days a week during the season, as well as performing up to five or six shows a day. In the off-season, it’s dance classes, pilates and yoga, said Laura Danelski.

Despite being almost 90 years old, the show remains popular.

“I think it appeals to the child inside everyone,” Danelski said. “It’s a big family show.”

The Rockettes themselves feel like family, she added. “We spend all our holidays together, we travel together and we’ve gone to each other’s weddings. We’re best friends. That’s the most special part of the show for me.”

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