Rockettes’ inauguration gig is reportedly causing turmoil within troupe

The famous dance troupe are scheduled to perform on 20 January in Washington but an email and social media posts point to dissent and talk of boycotting event

The famous dance troupe the Rockettes will perform at Donald Trumps presidential inauguration celebrations on 20 January, as the highlight of a ticket so far devoid of showbiz A-listers. Some dancers, however, may be reluctant to take part.

Barack Obamas two inaugurations featured performances from Beyonc, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Jay Z, U2 and others.

The line-up for Trumps inauguration in Washington includes the likes of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, a finalist on Americas Got Talent called Jackie Evancho and, possibly, the Beach Boys.

Famous names such as Elton John, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Garth Brooks and Celine Dion were reportedly asked to perform but declined.

On Thursday, it was announced that the Rockettes had been signed up for the big day, when they will be fresh from their annual Radio City Christmas Spectacular.

However it quickly emerged that some of the performers, while kicking and smiling on the outside, might be kicking and screaming on the inside.

James Dolan, executive chairman of the Madison Square Garden company, which produces the Rockettes and their shows at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, announced that he was honored that the troupe, which has performed since 1925, will participate in inauguration festivities in Washington.

The Rockettes performed for George W Bush at his inauguration celebrations in 2001 and 2005.

As speculation began flying on social media that their participation in 2017 was proving distinctly unpopular within the troupe, however, an email surfaced from the union representing them, the American Guild of Variety Artists.

Theater news website Broadwayworld.com reported that it had verified the authenticity of an email from the guild to what appears to be Rockettes in its membership as a response to the announcement that some Rockettes do not want to participate in the auguration of President-elect Donald Trump.

According to the report, the email from an unnamed guild leader read: We have received an email from a Rockette expressing concern about getting involved in a dangerous political climate.

I must remind you that you are all employees, and as a company, Mr Dolan obviously wants the Rockettes to be represented at our countrys presidential inauguration, as they were in 2001 and 2005.

Any talk of boycotting this event is invalid, Im afraid.

Phoebe Pearl, reportedly a current Rockette, posted a picture on Instagram of the dancers with a drawn-on bubble coming from one performer saying: Not my president.

She wrote that it was appalling that they would have to dance for a man that stands for everything we are against and that the Rockettes had been performing with tears in our eyes and heavy hearts since hearing the news.

Finding out that it has been decided for us that Rockettes will be performing at the Presidential inauguration makes me feel embarrassed and disappointed, she wrote.

The Instagram post was taken down, but not before social media platforms lit up.

What could be more fitting for this inauguration than forcing a group of women to do something with their bodies against their will? one commentator wrote on Facebook an oblique reference to Trumps track record of boasting about being able to grab womens genitals without consent, and many women who have accused him of sexual assault.

MSG and AGVA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Ivy Elrod, who performed as a Rockette in New York 20 years ago, told the Guardian she had heard from contacts within Radio City that many of the Rockettes who will be required to perform for Trump are angry and upset.

Some are absolutely outraged, others are not pleased but think its more important to get in line and do their jobs, she said.

She added that the union and the company would be unlikely to brook dissent from full-time employees.

I believe that if you refused to do this you would find you were no longer a Rockette, she said.

According to a report at the theater news website onstageblog.com, Rockettes not on full-time contracts with MSG would be able to choose whether or not to sign up for the inauguration.

The Madison Square Garden company issued a statement on Friday, which said to be considered for an event all Rockettes 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.

Elrod said that the New York-based Radio City Rockettes troupe is considered to be prestigious. Its very competitive, she said, and there is someone waiting to take your job in a moment.

If she was still a Rockette, she said, she would refuse to dance for Trump and would be prepared to lose her contract over it. If the dancers were given free choice, she said, there might be left with almost no-one performing at the inauguration.

I think this is specifically about him, about his misogyny, she said. The anti-LGBT track record of his running mate [Mike Pence], his controversial cabinet picks. This is the most divisive outcome of an election in my lifetime.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/dec/23/rockettes-inauguration-performance-donald-trump

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