News & Politics

Union: Radio City Rockettes Can't Boycott Trump Inaugural

The famed Radio City Rockettes, who have been performing for more than 90 years, must perform at Donald Trump’s inauguration, says their union, the American Guild of Variety Artists.

The controversy began when one Rockette took to Instagram to express her displeasure and disappointment at being forced to perform at the inauguration.

Rockette Phoebe Pearl said in an Instagram post Thursday night that she was “embarrassed and disappointed” to appear at the event.

“I usually don’t use social media to make a political stand but I feel overwhelmed with emotion,” Pearl wrote.

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

Pearl said she felt uncomfortable about the performance, given Trump’s history with unsavory language and assault allegations.

“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,” she wrote.

“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 #notmypresident”

But the AGVA said boycotting the event was “invalid”:

The email reads: “We have received an email from a Rockette expressing concern about getting “involved in a dangerous political climate” but I must remind you that you are all employees, and as a company, Mr. Dolan obviously wants the Rockettes to be represented at our country’s Presidential inauguration, as they were in 2001 & 2005. Any talk of boycotting this event is invalid, I’m afraid.”

“We have been made aware of what is going on Facebook and other social media, however, this does not change anything unless Radio City has a change of heart. The ranting of the public is just that, ranting. Everyone has a right to an opinion, but this does not change your employment status for those who are full time.”

“This has nothing to do with anyone’s political leanings (including AGVA’s), it has to do with your best performance for your employer, period. I will reiterate that if Hillary Clinton was the President-elect, nothing would be different, and there would probably be those who would not want to be involved because of her. It is a job, and all of you should consider it an honor, no matter who is being sworn in. The election is over and this country will not survive if it remains divided.”

“Everyone is entitled to her own political beliefs, but there is no room for this in the workplace.”

The email continues in bolded, underlined font: “If you are not full time, you do not have to sign up to do this work. If you are full time, you are obligated. Doing the best performance to reflect an American Institution which has been here for over 90 years is your job. I hope this pulls into focus the bottom line on this work,”

The email was written and sent by a high-ranking member of the union’s administration. This appears to corroborate earlier reports that the union had expressed that members who are full-time employees of MSG are required to perform at the inauguration.

Well put by the email writer. There is no “I” in Rockettes. In fact, the group is noted for its military-like precision dancing. The individual dancer who objected is still free to exercise her free-speech rights — just as long as she is aware that such an exercise has consequences.

I’m sure there are celebrities who wouldn’t be caught dead at the inauguration. But as time passes, it is hoped that less attention will be placed on the man and more on the grandeur of the office. That is what the Rockettes are celebrating by performing, not the individual political views of its members.