Speaking anonymously under the pseudonym Mary, the dancer said, “We do a lot of events, but there have been no events that could cause trauma. And doing this would cause trauma for some people.”
According to Mary, she and many other dancers are concerned about performing for Trump, who infamously bragged about groping women without their permission. She also said that the few African-American women in the troupe were opposed to the performance, and generally fearful for their rights and safety under Trump’s administration, due to some of the president-elect’s cabinet and staff picks.
Mary said that, as far as she knew, none of the women of color in the Rockettes had signed up to perform at Trump’s inauguration. “It’s almost worse to have 18 pretty white girls behind this man who supports so many hate groups,” she added, noting the group’s already “embarrassing” lack of diversity.
Members of the Rockettes are also wary of performing at Trump’s inauguration out of respect for, and in solidarity with, members of the Rockette and Radio City staff. “It’s the ensemble,” Mary said. “It’s the people in our wardrobe and hair department, some of whom are transgender. These are our friends and our family, who we’ve worked with for years. It’s a basic human-rights issue. We have immigrants in the show. I feel like dancing for Trump would be disrespecting the men and women who work with us, the people we care about.”
Mary also addressed the confusion over whether the Rockettes had to perform at the inauguration. Following the announcement, one dancer wrote in a since-deleted Instagram post that she was “embarrassed” to perform at the inauguration. That prompted a letter from the Rockettes’ union, the American Guild of Variety Artists, saying that all full-time employees were “obligated” to perform.
As Mary explained, the troupe employs 13 full-time, year-round dancers that have to perform any and all work, and 80 seasonally contracted employees. At first only the latter were given the option to perform at the inauguration, but following the backlash, producers extended the option to the full-time dancers. While Mary said that she knew of three full-time dancers who’d decided to sit out the inauguration, she noted that many were fearful of losing their jobs or standing in the company as a result.
“There is a divide in the company now, which saddens me most,” Mary said. “The majority of us said no immediately. Then there’s the percentage that said yes, for whatever reason – whether it’s because they’re young and uninformed, or because they want the money, or because they think it’s an opportunity to move up in the company when other people turn it down.”
Mary also said that since the Trump inauguration news broke, she’s noticed more empty seats at Radio City Music Hall during the Rockettes’ annual Christmas shows. “There aren’t usually empty seats the day before Christmas,” she said. “Why would they want to pay $100+ for a ticket to support someone who doesn’t support all human rights? Women’s rights?”