MSG Says Rockettes Make Choice to Perform at Trump Inauguration
The union representing the famed Radio City troupe ruled any boycott of the Jan. 20 event as "invalid" and that all full-time dancers were "obligated" to work.
Team Trump's preparations for the presidential inauguration descended into further drama on Thursday when a dancer from the Radio City Rockettes took to social media to express her disappointment in having to perform at the Jan. 20 event and further aired her fear of losing her job if she refused to do so.
Already struggling to attract top talent, the president-elect's inauguration team added two more acts to the roster on Thursday, announcing the Rockettes and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, who will join America's Got Talent star Jackie Evancho on the D.C. stage.
Not long after MSG Entertainment, owners of the Rockettes, confirmed their participation, dancer Phoebe Pearl posted a now-deleted message on her personal Instagram account to express her embarrassment and disappointment.
Pearl said: "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 representing the Rockettes, the American Guild of Variety Artists, also ruled any planned boycott of the inauguration by the dancers was "invalid" according to an email seen by BroadwayWorld. The AGVA email, reportedly written by a high ranking union administrator, went on to say that dancers that "are not full time, [do not] not have to sign up to do this work. If you are full time, you are obligated."
James Dolan, executive chairman of The Madison Square Garden Company of which the Rockettes are part, said in announcing the performance: "The Radio City Rockettes, an original American brand, have performed at Radio City Music Hall since 1932 and, as treasured American icons, have taken part in some of the nation’s most illustrious events such as Super Bowl halftime shows, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parades and presidential inaugurations, including in 2001 and 2005. We are honored that the Rockettes have again been asked to perform in the upcoming inauguration festivities.”
THR reached out to Madison Square Garden Company for further comment and on Friday, the company released a follow-up statement, saying "it is always their choice" to perform.
"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."
According to a Dec. 8 report in the New York Times, the inauguration festivities are being overseen by Apprentice producer Mark Burnett. Colony Capital CEO Thomas Barrack, Laurie Perlmutter (wife of Marvel chairman Ike Perlmutter) and casino mogul Steve Wynn are all serving on Trump's presidential inaugural committee.
The latest drama over the inauguration line-up came hours after Trump took to Twitter to claim that A-list celebrities were falling over themselves to get tickets to the event. “The so-called 'A' list celebrities are all wanting tixs to the inauguration, but look what they did for Hillary, NOTHING,” Trump tweeted.
He added: “I want the PEOPLE!”
Several celebrities threw their support behind the Rockettes by Friday morning. Judd Apatow shared posts from Patton Oswalt and Ghostbusters director Paul Feig, who both shared contact information to reach out to the AGVA and urged others to do the same.
No one should be forced to do anything against their will, not women nor men, whether performers or not. AGVA must protect their artists. https://t.co/E9pdPAAwp6— Paul Feig (@paulfeig) December 23, 2016
Dec. 23, 8:30 a.m. ET: Updated with Friday tweets.
11:28 a.m.: Updated with MSG statement.