Despite difficulties in finding entertainers to perform at the upcoming inauguration of President-Elect Donald Trump on Jan. 20, 2017, the incoming administration has so far managed to secure one household name: the Radio City Rockettes.
But not everyone’s happy about the iconic Radio City Music Hall performers participating in the Trump inaugural festivities — including many of the Rockettes themselves.
In a since-removed Instagram post, Rockette Phoebe Pearl wrote, “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”.
The union that represents The Rockettes, the American Guild of Variety Artists, ruled that any boycott or refusal to perform by members of the Rockettes at the inauguration would be “invalid,” saying in a statement that all full-time members of the Rockettes are “obligated” to perform.
Attorney and NBC News legal analyst Lisa Bloom, who represented several of the women who came forward during the general election with allegations of having been sexually assaulted and groped by President-elect Trump, has since tweeted that she is happy to offer her services to any Rockettes considering a protest:
I am happy to do a free consultation with any Rockette resistors. Trump does not make women want to kick up our heels. https://t.co/rlo4wHSh5k
— Lisa Bloom (@LisaBloom) December 23, 2016
No artist should be forced upon threat of firing to perform for the most racist, misogynist prez in our lifetime. https://t.co/wlhsHIvWoC
— Lisa Bloom (@LisaBloom) December 23, 2016
Many others are also using social media to assert their support for any Rockette whose job is on the line should they not wish to perform at the inauguration:
— Magan Carrigan (@MaganCarrigan) December 23, 2016
Um, hello. ALL OF WASHINGTON, DC is going to be forced to work for Trump, against their will. #Rockettes
— Girls Really Rule. (@girlsreallyrule) December 23, 2016
It's kinda funny how Trump is anti-union but is depending on union rules to fill up his inauguration hour with unwilling workers #Rockettes
— Lolatakesontheworld (@lolatakesontheW) December 23, 2016
As a proud New Yorker, I stand with our cherished and beloved #Rockettes and condemn the Union for forcing them to perform for a misogynist.
— JAZZnBLUES (@jjazzaro) December 23, 2016
— Lisa Pepin (@lisapepin) December 23, 2016
— steven pasquale (@StevePasquale) December 23, 2016
I'm assuming that the Rockettes will be dressing in an undisclosed location.
— Charles P. Pierce (@CharlesPPierce) December 22, 2016
Those calling for boycotts of the Rockettes because of any potential resistance of their to being forced to perform under threat of losing their employment is misplaced, writes Chris Peterson in OnStage, an online publication he founded.
As Peterson explains, the Rockettes have performed at many presidential inaugurations, including those of President George W. Bush, and the exposure garnered by the event makes it a “no-brainer” that MSG Sports & Entertainment Group, the entity that owns and operates the Rockettes brand, would want the group to perform.
Likewise, Peterson notes, most dancers under contract with the Rockettes have contracts that expire at the conclusion of the annual Christmas Spectacular show, while some dancers are employed full-time (that is, year-round). “[An] email forwarded to me states that non-full-time Rockettes DO NOT have to sign up for this event, but that ‘If you are full-time, you are obligated,’” he writes.
The Madison Square Garden company released a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “The Radio City Rockettes are proud to participate in the 58th Presidential Inaugural,” read the statement. “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.”
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has also agreed to perform at the inauguration, a decision the group said in a statement has been met with “backlash.”