Following public backlash to the news that the Radio City Rockettes would be forced to perform at the inauguration of a melted creamsicle to the highest office in America, the Madison Square Garden Company announced the performance would instead be optional. However, many of the dancers now doubt they truly have a choice in the matter.
One Rockette, “Mary,” spoke anonymously to MarieClaire.com about the fear of retribution facing many of the women. Though the performance is technically optional, the women are reportedly worried about losing their jobs or finding themselves in unfavorable standing for refusing to perform. Of the of 13 full-time dancers, Mary says three decided not to perform. Still, tensions have grown between those who will perform and those who have opted out.
“The majority of us said no immediately. Then there’s the percentage that said yes, for whatever reason—whether it’s because they’re young and uninformed, or because they want the money, or because they think it’s an opportunity to move up in the company when other people turn it down.”
Just like in the election, the few women of color in the troupe have rejected the opportunity, with Mary noting that she doesn’t know of any who have signed up to perform.
“It’s almost worse to have 18 pretty white girls behind this man who supports so many hate groups,” she says. The lack of diversity in the kick line is “embarrassing” on a normal day, she says, and will only be more pointed in January. “They’re going to be branded in history as one of those women,” Mary says. “How’s it going to look?”
Some of the Rockettes join the long list of performers who have refused to perform for Trump including Celine Dione, David Foster, Elton John and every single high school marching band in the Washington DC area.
In addition to concern over Trump’s racist, sexist, xenophobic, Islamophobic and just plain hateful campaign, Mary says one dancer explained she “wouldn’t feel comfortable standing near a man like that in our costumes.” A man, if you’ll recall, who is on tape brazenly bragging about sexually assaulting women.
Many are also reportedly rightly concerned about how performing at the inauguration might hurt the Rockettes brand. Mary is worried history will paint them as an organization that supported Donald Trump, which might not look to great during the inevitable American version of the Nuremberg trials.
The Rockettes who have opted into the inauguration will join an America’s Got Talent runner-up and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Sounds like a riot.