After a beleaguered struggle to nab performers for Donald Trump’s inauguration, it was announced on Thursday that the Radio City Rockettes will high-kick for the occasion. But, as with all things Trump, controversy was not so easily dampened, as it became clear that many Rockettes dancers, who share in a Broadway community that vehemently opposes Trump, do not feel comfortable performing at the event. Now, BroadwayWorld has obtained an email reportedly from the American Guild of Variety Artists, the union that represents the Rockettes, suggesting that full-time employees will be coerced into performing, even if they object. Per the site, the aggressively worded email from “a high-ranking member of the union’s administration” says: “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.”
The email continues to explain that while non-full-time employees can simply abstain from signing up for the event, full-time Rockettes are “obligated” to perform. Elsewhere, the message insists, “Everyone is entitled to her own political beliefs, but there is no room for this in the workplace.”
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.
Though a widely circulated social media post suggests that Rockettes are being threatened with termination if they refuse to perform, the AVGA email does not specify consequences, only strongly alluding to employment requirements. Given Trump’s extraordinarily disturbing record of making sexual remarks and condoning sexual assault, the situation is garnering particular attention as objecting women could face the prospect of literally being forced to dance for the president-elect.