Yesterday, the Radio City Rockettes became the third act confirmed for Donald Trump’s inauguration, joining America’s Got Talent runner-up Jackie Evancho and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on the star-studded lineup. According to reports, however, many of the dancers do not want to perform, but have been threatened with losing their jobs if they don’t.
The Rockettes are represented by the American Guild of Variety Artists (AGVA), which warned the dancers Thursday that full-time employees of the show are “obligated” to perform at the inauguration, and cautioned that “any talk of boycotting this event is invalid.” Of the 36-odd Rockettes performing at any given time, about 12 are full-time, TheWrap.com reports. The rest are reportedly signed to holiday contracts that typically expire at the close of the Christmas show.
The decision for them to perform was made by James Dolan—the executive chairman of the Madison Square Garden Company, who usually just uses his influence to force other people to listen to his band—in conjunction with the AGVA.
Broadwayworld.com obtained and republished a copy of the AVGA letter, which it says was written by a “high-ranking member of the union’s administration.”
We have received an email from a Rockette expressing concern about getting “involved in a dangerous political climate” but I must remind you that you are all employees, and as a company, Mr. Dolan obviously wants the Rockettes to be represented at our country’s Presidential inauguration, as they were in 2001 & 2005. Any talk of boycotting this event is invalid, I’m afraid.
We have been made aware of what is going on Facebook and other social media, however, this does not change anything unless Radio City has a change of heart. The ranting of the public is just that, ranting. Everyone has a right to an opinion, but this does not change your employment status for those who are full time.
This has nothing to do with anyone’s political leanings (including AGVA’s), it has to do with your best performance for your employer, period. I will reiterate that if Hillary Clinton was the President-elect, nothing would be different, and there would probably be those who would not want to be involved because of her. It is a job, and all of you should consider it an honor, no matter who is being sworn in. The election is over and this country will not survive if it remains divided.
Everyone is entitled to her own political beliefs, but there is no room for this in the workplace.
If you are not full time, you do not have to sign up to do this work. If you are full time, you are obligated. Doing the best performance to reflect an American Institution which has been here for over 90 years is your job. I hope this pulls into focus the bottom line on this work.
Perez Hilton also claims to have a source who told him “the union who represents the Rockettes told the group of girls who contracted to do ALL promo events, that if they don’t perform in the Trump inauguration, they will be sued/and or fired,” a threat not found in the letter obtained by Broadwayworld.com.
The dancers are reportedly complaining directly to the union and on social media, though at press time none had yet spoken on the record with reporters. In a private Instagram post, Rockette Phoebe Pearl called the booking embarrassing and disappointing.
“I usually don’t use social media to make a political stand but I feel overwhelmed with emotion,” she wrote. “Finding out that it has been decided for us that Rockettes will be performing at the Presidential inauguration makes me feel embarrassed and disappointed. The women I work with are intelligent and are full of love and the decision of performing for a man that stands for everything we’re against is appalling. I am speaking for just myself but please know that after we found out this news, we have been performing with tears in our eyes and heavy hearts. We will not be forced! #notmypresident.”
Another unnamed dancer tells Thewrap.com, “Forcing dozens of women to go and perform for this man is without a question going to be problematic.”
As of press time, neither MSG nor the AGVA responded to multiple requests for comment.