The Radio City Rockettes have been dealing with a rough holiday season over the past week. Which is usually not the case, seeing as the Christmas season is where they shine and take the stage for their most famous performances. But ever since the news broke that they were contracted to perform at the Presidential Inauguration in January, opinions have been flying about whether they should consent or risk losing their jobs in opposition. Originally, all Rockettes were required to perform but after backlash from those within the company and from the public in general the gig is now an optional paycheck.
However, details that may not be widely known by many fans offer additional insight into the situation. As “Mary” (who remains anonymous for obvious reasons) told Marie Claire, only 13 dancers are actually full-time employees — the rest are contracted workers who aren’t required to be at every event throughout the year. Still, she says on the supposed “volunteer” nature of this particular event, that three dancers (all full time) have declined to perform but it remains to be seen whether that actually means they get to keep their jobs.
“It will be interesting to see who doesn’t get their job back. But do you really want to work for a company that supports this? I just don’t know. It’s become a moral issue at this point.”
Even worse, this controversy appears to be affecting the company internally as well as in the public eye.
“There is a divide in the company now, which saddens me most. 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.”
Ticket sales aren’t exactly stellar either…
“There have been a lot of empty seats this week, the day before Christmas. There aren’t usually empty seats the day before Christmas,” she says. At the same time, she’s not really surprised. “Why would they want to pay $100+ for a ticket to support someone who doesn’t support all human rights? Women’s rights?”
“Mary” discusses the broader implications of women’s rights, sexism, racism, LGBT representation and rights, and the problem with having no diverse Rockettes on stage in January (if any of them perform at all) further in the full article. But one particular detail stands out as particularly harsh. Not only did the girls get told about the situation via texts from their friends before management told them, the announcement was made in the middle of their busiest month. Mary admits,
“This was such a horrible bomb to drop on us at Christmas. We work so hard, we’re so tired. We’re sleep-deprived, our bodies are exhausted. We don’t really have lives, even in our off-season…we really respect each other, and care about each other, and that’s why this is so difficult.”
Hopefully the company makes it through this rough patch and relationships are mended regardless of whether people perform or not. It will be a few more weeks before the fallout is fully revealed as far as whether any contracts are actually discontinued but for now there is more than just a will they or won’t they perform story here and at least one Rockette isn’t afraid to talk about it.
(via Marie Claire)