Trump inauguration manages to divide even the Rockettes because there is nothing he doesn’t divide
Almost no one wants to perform at the orange man’s inauguration. And who can blame any artist for opting out of the shitshow that is the reality star turned Twitter troll forthcoming presidency. Unfortunately, The Rockettes were blind-sided by the announcement that they would indeed have to dance on January 20th whether they agreed with his hatred or not.
As a group of women, albeit not particularly a diverse one, it’s understandable why most of the dancers would have concerns about performing for a man who bragged about sexually assaulting women. His rampant sexism goes way back, and isn’t limited to “grabbing her by the pussy” or declaring that Hillary Clinton was a “nasty woman.” He has a history of misogyny that should’ve kept him from the Oval Office. But, alas, here we are.
Marie Claire published an interview with an anonymous Rockette who was brought to tears upon finding out she was “being forced to perform for this monster.” “I wouldn’t feel comfortable standing near a man like that in our costumes,” said another dancer in an email to her colleagues. While Mary (a pseudonym for the Rockette who spoke to Marie Claire) is willing to lose her job for refusing to perform, other dancers agreed. And then there are those who feel forced because of the American Guild of Variety Artists, the dancers’ union, who reportedly reminded the women via email that they were contractually obligated to perform.
Following backlash about the decision, the producers changed the mandatory performance to one of choice for full-time dancers. From the Marie Claire interview:
Mary says that to her knowledge, no women of color have signed up to perform that day. “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?”Members of the Rockettes performing at the Guinness World of Records Museum in 1999GettyShe and other dancers are concerned about tarnishing the Rockettes’ brand forever. “This is making our show, our job, our name, branded as right-wing. An extreme right-wing,” Mary says. “There’s a reason why everyone else is turning this down. Why are we not?”
Following the interview the Madison Square Garden Company who manages the Rockettes held a meeting with the dancers and executive chairman James Dolan. Parts of that meeting were leaked to Marie Claire. In that meeting Dolan asked the women to be tolerant of intolerance.
“This is a great national event,” he said. “Every four years we put in a new president. It’s a huge moment in the country’s history. It usually signifies a whole change in how the government is going to run. The fact that we get to participate in it…we are an American brand, and I think it’s very appropriate that the Rockettes dance in the inaugural and 4th of July and our country’s great historical moments.”
Meanwhile Rockettes claim they’ve been harassed on social media since becoming a trending topic on Twitter. And many worry about more harassment, the brand of the Rockettes now being politicized and the statement it makes to perform for a bigoted, racist, xenophobic misogynist.
The Madison Square Garden Company is unhappy with the leak of what they presumed a private meeting. The company’s spokesperson, Barry Watkins, issued a statement calling Marie Claire’s source “deceitful and cowardly.” Watkins also slammed the magazine for what they believe is unethical journalism practices.
“This is one person who continues to attempt to represent the entire team of Rockettes,” his statement read. “This time it’s in a story that is the result of an unauthorized recording that violated the confidentiality of all of her sister Rockettes.”
Trump divides everyone. Because of him the Rockettes can’t even avoid controversy.
That divisiveness amongst the company won’t go away anytime soon. While Dolan thinks the inauguration performance is a good business move, Mary says less people have filled the seats since the announcement. If the decision to perform is elective for full-time dancers, hopefully the next headline about this ordeal will be massive numbers of Rockettes refusing to perform. At the very least it’d be great if they released a joint statement condemning Trump and letting the world know that as a collective they oppose everything this man stands for.