On Thursday night, Donald Trump seemed to get a break from his inauguration woes when the famed Radio City Rockettes were announced as performers at the event. Some Rockettes have voiced displeasure at the booking, but their union ruled out the possibility of a boycott. (And then they backtracked, as seen below.)
The initial winds of dissent came from Rockette Phoebe Pearl. In a since-deleted Instagram post, Pearl wrote about feeling “embarrassed and disappointed” about performing at the inauguration. She said she was only speaking for herself, but feels others hold the same sentiment:
“I usually don’t use social media to make a political stand but I feel overwhelmed with emotion. 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.”
But the group’s union, American Guild of Variety Artists, said a boycott is out of the question. In an email obtained by BroadwayWorld, the Guild said they are aware of the growing social media protests and said performing at the inauguration is not a matter of politics:
“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, [James Dolan, executive chairman of The Madison Square Garden Company] 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…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.”
Others are pushing for other people to reach out to the Guild to express their mutual dissappointment. New York producer and writer Amanda Duarte Facebooked about the irony of Rockettes being told they have to perform at the inauguration:
With only a few weeks away till Inauguration Day, Trump’s festivities are lacking some A-list glitz.
Update #1: Madison Square Garden released a statement that echoes the same sentiments as the Guild, saying the performances by the Rockettes are entirely voluntarily.
“The Radio City Rockettes are proud to participate in the 58th Presidential Inaugural. For a Rockette to be considered for an event, they must voluntarily sign up and are never told they have to perform at a particular event, including the inaugural. It is always their choice. In fact, for the coming inauguration, we had more Rockettes request to participate than we have slots available. We eagerly await the inaugural celebrations.”