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The Rockettes have made headlines since the announcement that the famed dancers would perform at Donald Trump’s upcoming inauguration, and Tuesday, a leaked behind-the-scenes saga detailed more backlash between the dancers and the troupe’s owners, MSG Entertainment.
Amid reports that the Rockettes were being forced, some against their will, to perform for Trump, Madison Square Garden executive chairman James Dolan called an impromptu meeting Dec. 27 to discuss the upcoming inauguration performance. Marie Claire published details from the meeting Tuesday, according to one of the Radio City Music Hall dancers who chose to remain anonymous in the story.
“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,” said Dolan, according to the Marie Claire account. “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.”
When a dancer in the room asked Dolan if he felt that linking the Rockettes to Trump tarnishes the brand, the executive said no, adding, “I gotta sell tickets.”
The article included a statement from MSG chief communications officer Barry Watkins, but Tuesday morning, MSG released its own statement, saying the magazine didn’t run the company’s full response.
“Marie Claire posted a story on its website this morning regarding a private meeting that was held last week,” read the MSG statement. “The story included comments made by various Rockettes that were included without their permission. When Marie Claire requested comment from MSG last night, we provided a full statement on the matter. Marie Claire chose to just use a small portion of what was provided. Following is the full statement in its entirety.”
The statement confirms Dolan’s quoted statements from the meeting while alleging a “violation of confidentiality” from the Rockette quoted in the story. MSG called the story a betrayal that was “deceitful and cowardly.” The statement reads in full as follows:
“This is one person who continues to attempt to represent the entire team of Rockettes. 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. While Mr. Dolan stands behind everything he said during the meeting, no one in that room believed they were speaking publicly. Everyone in the meeting had the chance to speak their mind in a safe setting, and many did. Her secret recording was deceitful and cowardly and has betrayed all of her fellow Rockettes. Posting this story is beneath the ethical standards of Hearst. We are deeply disappointed in their decision to post this story.”
The dancer who was quoted in the story spoke of her reaction to Dolan’s meeting, as well as to the social media backlash the Rockettes have been facing.
“I’ve had people messaging me: Just shut up and dance,” she told the magazine. She said that when they voiced their concerns over the backlash, even from friends, Dolan asked, “How can they be your friends if they’re not tolerant of a different opinion?”
When a dancer asked if he was suggesting they are to be “tolerant of intolerance,” Dolan said, “Yeah, in a way, I guess we are doing that. What other chocies do we have? What else would you suggest?”
Dolan ended the meeting on the following note: “We’re celebrating a new president, not necessarily this president.”
In the Marie Claire story, Watkins was quoted as saying that “while Mr. Dolan stands behind everything he said during the meeting, no one in that room believed they were speaking publicly. Everyone in the meeting had the chance to speak their mind in a safe setting, and many did.”
Read the full story here.
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