Rockettes Dancer Gives Inside Perspective at the Prospect of Performing for Trump: 'It's A Basic Human-Rights Issue'

By: Dec. 27, 2016
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The Rockettes found out they would be performing at President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration three days before Christmas.

Since then, the arts community has expressed outrage, rumors have flown fast and thick on whether the dancers could face legal consequences for refusing to perform (especially after a contentious email from their union), and Madison Square Garden has since dubbed the entire affair voluntary.

In the midst of this maelstrom are the dancers themselves. Finally, in an anonymous interview with Marie Claire, one has spoken out about her fears and frustrations.

"If I had to lose my job over this, I would," she told Marie Claire. "It's too important. And I think the rest of the performing arts community would happily stand behind me."

The Rockette clarified that there are different employment contracts for full-time dancers (of which there are 13) and seasonally contracted performers (80 dancers split between two casts of 40 women). The full-time dancers originally received an email with the details of the appearance and no option for sitting it out, while the seasonal workers were asked their availability.

After the backlash from both the dancers and the community at large, MSG released a statement making the inauguration performance voluntary, saying:

"The Radio City Rockettes are proud to participate in the 58th Presidential Inaugural. 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."

Despite this move, the dancers are reportedly still nervous about choosing not to perform. "It will be interesting to see who doesn't get their job back," the Rockette told Marie Claire. "But do you really want to work for a company that supports this? I just don't know. It's become a moral issue at this point."

She continued: "There is a divide in the company now, which saddens me most. 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."

She added that appearing at the inauguration could "cause trauma" for some of the dancers. And many simply cannot support Trump's flagrant disrespect for women and minorities. "This is making our show, our job, our name, branded as right-wing," the Rockette said. "There's a reason why everyone else is turning this down. Why are we not?"

The Rockette expanded on her statement, saying: "This is not a Republican or Democrat issue - this is a women's rights issue. This is an issue of racism and sexism, something that's much bigger than politics...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."

As a young girl, she used to look up to The Rockettes. But now, she says she is afraid of how the troupe performing at Trump's inauguration will affect the little girls watching the dancers in the kick-line next month.

The Rockettes will be joining the Mormon Tablernacle Choir and America's Got Talent runner-up Jackie Evancho at the inauguration on January 20th.