A Radio City Rockette opened up about the pressure to perform at President-elect Donald Trump‘s inauguration in a new interview Tuesday, December 27. The dancer, who used the pseudonym Mary to speak anonymously, told Marie Claire many Rockettes are outraged and refuse to take the stage at the January 20 event.
“There is a divide in the company now, which saddens me most,” Mary told the site. “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 said one of her fellow Rockettes was crying during the entirety of their 90-minute performance at Radio City Music Hall Thursday, December 22, the day the dance troupe found out they’d been booked to perform at the inauguration. “She felt she was being forced to perform for this monster,” Mary explained, while a second anonymous dancer added: “I wouldn’t feel comfortable standing near a man like that in our costumes.”
The Rockettes made headlines last week after dancer Phoebe Pearl wrote on Instagram that she was “embarrassed and disappointed” to perform for Trump, who has made numerous misogynistic and inappropriate comments about women over the years. MSG Entertainment, the company that owns the group, later issued a statement saying the Rockettes “must voluntarily sign up and are never told they have to perform at a particular event.”
Mary addressed MSG Entertainment’s statement in her interview with Marie Claire, telling the site that the Rockettes have different employment contracts. The 80 seasonal dancers were asked their availability, she claimed, while the 13 full-time members were not initially given “the choice of whether to participate.”
“So it wasn’t optional at first. The email [the full-timers received] from their union said they had to do this job,” Mary said, adding that at least three full-time dancers have refused to participate. “It will be interesting to see who doesn’t get their job back. 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.”
Mary hinted that she’s one of the Rockettes who’s standing her ground. “If I had to lose my job over this, I would,” she said. “It’s too important. And I think the rest of the performing arts community would happily stand behind me.”
The Rockettes previously performed at former President George W. Bush‘s 2001 and 2005 inaugurations, but according to Mary, many do not want to participate in Trump’s ceremony because of his actions and comments. “This is not a Republican or Democratic issue — this is a women’s rights issue,” Mary said. “This is an issue of racism and sexism, something that’s much bigger than politics. … We’re representing every little girls’ dream.”