Anonymous Rockette: Performing for Trump’s inauguration ruins our ‘brand’


Last week, media outlets were focused on the fact that President-elect Trump couldn’t find anyone to come to his inauguration. Like, no one wants to be a witness to the event and no entertainer wants to perform. Everyone from Elton John to Celine Dion to Garth Brooks has apparently said “no” to the Trump inaugural committee. So last week, the committee announced that they had booked the Radio City Rockettes, a group of dancers most famous for doing high-kicks whilst wearing sparkly leotards. While the hiring of the Rockettes is problematic for many different reasons, as it turns out, the booking was fraught with internal drama. Internal drama… within the Rockette organization. The Rockettes are in a union, and the union said the Rockettes are contractually obligated to dance for Donald Trump (shiver). But the Madison Square Garden Company (who “owns” the Rockettes) denied that any Rockette would be “forced” to perform, and that the performance at the inaugural would be volunteer-only.

Well, in an interesting turn of events, a Rockette going by the alias “Mary” has spoken out to Marie Claire. You can read the full piece here. Mary is SAVAGE. I love her. I love that there seems to be a deep vein of social consciousness and feminism within the Rockettes. Some highlights:

A Rockette wept openly when she was told she would have to perform for Trump: “She felt she was being forced to perform for this monster,” Mary said. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable standing near a man like that in our costumes,” said another dancer in an email to her colleagues.

Most Rockettes don’t want to speak out: “But they’re afraid of losing their jobs if they do… If I had to lose my job over this, I would. It’s too important. And I think the rest of the performing arts community would happily stand behind me.”

Dancers worry that saying no will get them fired: Mary knows of three full-time dancers who have chosen to decline to perform, and at least one of them is fearful of losing her standing as a result. “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.”

The divided Rockettes: “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.”

The trauma of Trump: “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,” she explains of the dancers who, like herself, can’t stomach celebrating a man who has bragged about sexually assaulting women. Or the few African-American women in the troupe who fear for their rights and their safety under an administration with reported white supremacists in its ranks. Mary says that to her knowledge, no women of color have signed up to perform that day. “It’s almost worse to have 18 pretty white girls behind this man who supports so many hate groups,” she says. The lack of diversity in the kick line is “embarrassing” on a normal day, she says, and will only be more pointed in January. “They’re going to be branded in history as one of those women. How’s it going to look?”

Associating with Trump tarnishes the Rockettes’ brand: “This is making our show, our job, our name, branded as right-wing. An extreme right-wing. There’s a reason why everyone else is turning this down. Why are we not? 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. We walk into work and everyone has different political views. The majority of the stage crew are Trump supporters; there’s a ‘Make America Great Again’ bumper sticker on the crew doors at the side of the stage.” But the majority of the staff skews liberal, she says, especially considering the many LGBT employees at Radio City. “It’s the ensemble. It’s the people in our wardrobe and hair department, some of whom are transgender,” she says. “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.”

[From Marie Claire]

Mary says at the end that Christmas is traditionally the busiest season for the Rockettes, but after the Trump announcement, there were “a lot of empty seats” for their shows. Mary says she’s not surprised because why would people want to pay $100 for a ticket “to support someone who doesn’t support all human rights? Women’s rights?” Basically… I can’t believe that the Rockettes’ union and the Madison Square Garden Company are insisting on keeping the Rockettes tethered to this gig. To be fair, apparently the Rockettes performed at both of George W. Bush’s inaugurations (in 2001 and 2005), but as Mary points out, no one felt that was highly politicized at all. I think the optics are all wrong on Trump’s side too – he treats women like disposable ornaments without agency… so he finds a way to “force” vulnerable young women to “dance” for him for his inauguration. *shiver*



Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet, WENN.

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101 Responses to “Anonymous Rockette: Performing for Trump’s inauguration ruins our ‘brand’”

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  1. Lingling says:

    A ton of people actually did vote for him or at least passively decided he was the better choice by not voting at all because they hated both candidates. You’d think they could find someone. Ted Nugent, where you at?

  2. grabbyhands says:

    I feel bad for these ladies because her fears are very real-they may be union protected, but I don’t doubt that the names of those who declined to perform are being noted, and that retaliation in some form is coming.

    Unions are strong in the business we call show, but as dismantling the unions is one of Trump’s key goals, that may not mean much after January 20th.

  3. robyn says:

    Yeah … the Rockettes are perfect considering p*ssygrabbing conman Trump’s history of degrading women. All those women in bathing suits showing a lot of leg makes sense if you’re a comedian. The jokes will be endless.

    The Mormon’s … I hope they don’t sully their sterling reputation by singing for a man who won the election in such a corrupt way with the help of the Russians. The ill-fated Russian choir might have been more suitable but sadly, inexplicably many were on that plane that crashed. Yet another tragedy in 2016.

  4. Megan says:

    W’s first inauguration was highly politicized. Slightly more than half the voters believed the election had been stolen from Al Gore. I am not the least bit surprised the Rockettes were booked for Trump’s inauguration. Their parent company is clearly pandering to a specific audience.

    • Esmom says:

      As much as I feared W’s adminstration, those fears seem quaint in comparison to this appalling horror of an election. I just think there’s no comparison. The divisiveness has been ratcheted up so far beyond anything prior to this, imo.

      But yeah I hear you on the Rockette’s company pandering to Trump and his base.

      • Megan says:

        At the time, W’s election was the most divisive and controversial in modern times.

      • Miranda says:

        My brother and I were just discussing this. Shortly after Obama’s first term began, we saw a billboard with a picture of W saying “Miss me yet?” Now we do! Trump makes W’s incompetence seem almost charming, and Dick Cheney at his most ghoulish couldn’t hold a candle to Mike Pence and his anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-decent-human-being agenda.

        As a side note, Maureen Dowd (columnist from NYT) says that Bush Sr. throws his slippers at the TV when he sees Trump. I love that mental image.

      • Tate says:

        @Esmom isn’t it amazing in a totally horrifying way?!? W seems like nothing compared to the monster we have coming in now.

      • Megan says:

        W did terrible things. From an illegal invasion of Iraq, that has resulted in countless (more specifically, uncounted) civilians deaths, to environmental devastation, to the wreckage of the US economy. Trump may well do worse things, but the damage of the W administration should never be minimized.

      • Esmom says:

        Megan, I hear you. W was a terrible president. But somehow I do still think Trump is worse, reckless and dangerous and thin-skinned and a loose cannon in a way that W never was. W didn’t seem to embolden the white supremacists and other hate mongering groups as much as Trump has. And W’s cabinet wasn’t as frightening and extremist and ignorant (although don’t get me started on John Ashcroft) so I’m sure that adds to my revulsion and fear.

  5. Rapunzel says:

    Donald Trump becoming president is like making a guy who has never seen a cockpit the pilot of a 747. It’s nothing to celebrate cause there’s gonna be a nasty crash. This inauguration will be a depressing mess. Poor Rockettes.

  6. Liz says:

    Knowing what I know about the Dolans (the family that owns MSG Corp – the holding company that owns Radio City & the Rockettes), not one thing about this is a surprise. This is a family that has worked alongside Trump for decades. Until earlier this year, they owned a medium sized cable company, which they sold to Altice as part of the company’s US expansion. The Dolans’ still own Madison Square Garden, the NY Knicks & the NY Rangers. Their slimy “it’s all about me and my money” politics fit right in with Trump’s.

    The dancers have to audition every year – maybe one of the women who turns down the Inauguration will be invited back, just so they can say “SEE – it was optional.” The rest will be replaced.

    • robyn says:

      Interesting. Disturbing connections everywhere when it comes to conman Trump. When you see the Enquirer on news stands it is obvious they are in the bag for Trump too. Occasional negative stories about him but mostly about his “prowess” and how “sick and rotten” all his opposition is.

      Incidentally, I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump was a source for some of those stories the Enquirer “broke” over the years. He probably made a few easy bucks that way and no one would suspect this of him while he hung out with and gained the trust of celebrities.

      • IlsaLund says:

        I totally agree. The Enquirer prints such hateful lies and smears about HRC and the Obamas and nothing but glowing coverage for King Donald. I saw a recent Enquirer in the store that a had very vicious article about Malia Obama’s out of control drug use….just incredible. And people buy this fake news garbage and actually believe it.

      • ol cranky says:

        The Enquirer is owned by one of Trump’s friends and biggest backers of his campaign. They actively used the Enquirer as part of the campaign and to impugn anyone who was running against or publicly disagrees with Trump. Remember the Ted Cruz adultery story? The Enquirer created and printed the story so Trump could bring it up

  7. lisa says:

    only white rockettes are doing it

    so basically this is going to look like springtime for hitler, which is kind of perfect really

    and maybe eric can sing tomorrow belongs to me

  8. Shambles says:

    Well if this isn’t the most fitting start to Trump’s presidency…
    Forcing women to use their bodies without their consent.

  9. D says:

    I’ve never heard of the Rocketts, are they like an American version of the can can dancers at the Moulin Rouge? Is it a similar type of show?

    • Lambda says:

      It’s more Broadway, 30s musical style. Bit less teasing, same amount of leg.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      They are famous for doing kick lines (can-can is a lot of fan kicks in skirts, these are lot of straight legged kicks in leotards). They are incredibly precise and move in complete unison . Their heights all have to be very similar, etc.

    • PimmsCupInAPimpCup says:

      I have seen them. My mother loves New York, and loves the Rockettes. They are straight from the stage sequences of a Busby Berkley musical.
      Their Christmas show is famous for their “March of the Wooden Soldiers”.
      Some would say it’s corny, it’s not my favorite thing to see, but my mother just shines as soon as soon as she gets to the hall, so we go see the Rockettes.

      (There is the “Center Coffee” shop at the same building, men wear fedoras unironically, and the wait staff are the sweetest people. Go.)

      I have had bear clients past, just awful people, and I’ll probably have bear clients in the future. I’ve done the jobs, and I’ll probably be stuck doing the jobs again when the time comes.
      But it’s never been political for me, a lot of my labeling a client a bear is due to unprofessionalism on their part, where my job was reduced to cleaning up their mistakes, instead of doing what I was originally hired to do. Thus, I’m ill-equipped to judge a dance line on whether or they should perform.
      Some of women are obviously traumatized, and perhaps it’s best they not further traumatized themselves.

  10. jwoolman says:

    Maybe they could get Dina Lohan to do a solo. She always says she used to be a Rockette. The Rockettes don’t have any record of her, which fits perfectly with Trump’s inauguration.

  11. Bex says:

    I read that only something like 7% of people who claim their profession is ‘dancer’ are in full time employment, so I can’t blame anybody who decides to perform out of fear of losing a job or not having a contract renewed. It’d be naive to assume that there will be no retribution for anybody who speaks out. I feel really sorry for them and it’s disgusting that the union is insisting on their involvement.

  12. Eric says:

    The Rockettes are a 90-year-old dance troop from NYC that have appeared in many shows–most notably lately at Thanksgiving parades. They typically perform in a singular line and “dance” by kicking their knees and legs high in absurdly short skirts with undergarments visible (thereby showing off their legs (and miscellany) to crowds)). Their collective impact on American culture has diminished the past 30 years as they are representative of an earlier, more misogynistic time in America (from the late 20s to the 50s).

  13. CItyHeat says:

    Your brand is not ruined. Don’t engage in hyperbole.

    Also per snopes ….management says it’s voluntary anyway.

    But despite this overlooked or unacknowledged update…..I’ll play.
    The Rockettes have performed at previous presidential inaugurations. It’s highly unlikely that they all vote identically and all vote for winning presidential candidates. At this point Its your job, and you do it……and if you don’t want to do it, you quit your job. You dance as obligated or you go elsewhere. It’s that cut and dried. There are hundreds who will gladly take that job as a rockette.

    As upset as many may be at the outcome, it is what it is. Perhaps those who are disappointed could focus on the fact that it’s a presidential inauguration …..a celebration of the republic of THe USA process….and take the high road and be uber professional.

    I’m sympathetic to being disappointed in the presidential outcome and wishing it were different….but it’s your job at this point. You knew that rockettes have performed at inaugural events when you took it. There are other jobs, there are others who want your job. So do it or quit.

    I’m a former HR exec….pretty strong feelings on this one based on my profession,

    • robyn says:

      Never mind that this guy is verbally abusive to women. This is not about the presidency in my view … it is about a corrupt man winning the title with the help of a foreign power. This is not Republican, Democrat or Independent … this is the one time when all people should take a stand. Otherwise, Russia won the US election.

      • CItyHeat says:

        He was elected president … warts and all. My distaste doesn’t make him any less PE. All this #NotMyPresident is futile……yes he is. #NotMyChoice is more accurate. You don’t have to like it (I don’t). It is what it is…..

        Now to the rockettes….in my opinion, if management obligates you, then you dance or quit. That easy.

        You do realize this is moot, right? They don’t have to perform if they don’t want to. This thread is days behind the issue and staler than our Christmas pudding,

        We should move on to something more relevant this week. (Shrugs)

      • robyn says:

        Democracy is never stale. You might as well have Putin not Trump put his hand on the bible and that is nothing anyone should accept in America.

    • Lynnie says:

      There’s voluntary and then there’s “voluntary.” This is looking like more of the latter. Even so, the word voluntary is out there, so the dancers who don’t want to participate shouldn’t feel manipulated into doing it just because showbiz is a ruthless place, and they might get cut in retaliation for their choice. There are very real reasons to decline being entertainment for that man from his crass and vile treatment towards women in general, (if the white Rockettes only rumor is true) to the fact the KKK endorsed him, and he WAFFLED over disavowing it. Even the fact that some of them might hate his guts is a valid choice for not wanting to perform. Slightly unprofessional yes, but it’s not like he’s any better.

      There is no high road to take when the man the inauguration is for has demolished it. You can’t just disparage half of America and collude with Russia in a national election (which isn’t very “republic”) for a year and a half and then expect everyone to put that aside within the span of two months. Sorry, will never happen, respect is earned, and Donny will never get it.

      I don’t know what being a HR exec was supposed to signify. That you have empathy? Because if so lol…

      • CItyHeat says:

        @Lynnie…..HR execs straddle people and business issues. At the end of the day — no business, no jobs. MY role was to,protect the long term health and viability of the company , sometimes against itself. And a company’s greatest asset is almost always its people. You want them engaged deeply in your business. If they aren’t……maybe they aren’t a good fit. Or maybe you need to look at your business environment and see what is stopping that.

        My way of saying…….I was sympathetic but I don’t think they had a case if mgmt did say it’s mandatory.

        But it’s not.

        ETA: I’m not engaging in Trump,
        discussions that aren’t relevant to the thread topic…..the ROckettes.

        It’s a choice. I’m not ignoring your specific comments……just not a conversation I’m choosing to follow, as I prefer to stay on topic with the thread. Otherwise it takes on a life of its own.

      • lightpurple says:

        It is not mandatory NOW.

      • robyn says:

        Is this a third world country run by a dictator where Rockettes have to dance for the prez. It might not be mandatory but there is this underlying intimidation about everything Trump.

      • PimmsCupInAPimpCup says:


        I appreciate you pointing out the contract/business end of the case.
        I like to see all sorts of views.
        I was for someone else, too, but I found myself saying exactly what I said when Obama won “Let’s not speculate of might happen, our imaginations will cart us away. Let’s see what he does, first.”

        I like seeing your take, as, well, I have an agent, not a union contract. So I am lost on this whole Rockettes thing.

    • Anonymous says:

      I disagree. I’ll grant you that stating the “brand would be ruined” is hyperbolic. Although I do think it could hurt business (considering where they are based).

      AS for the “voluntariness” — yes, it’s voluntary *now.* Initially there was discussion that it would not be voluntary (this is from the union). After the publicized push back, it became voluntary.

      I don’t think it matters that the Rockettes have previously played at inaugurations. Generally people don’t mind performing for the other side. Destiny’s Child, including Beyonce, performed for George W. Bush’s inauguration. Would you expect Beyonce to perform for this inauguration if she were asked? It’s not a matter of difference of party positions, this is about much more. There are many who are genuinely afraid of Trump’s presidency — not just afraid of the country’s direction economically or whether they will have a job, but afraid for their lives and basic human rights. The inauguration is essentially a celebration. We cannot expect people who have such concerns to help celebrate the beginning of this presidency. Would people have expected super religious Christian rock groups (who have strong anti-choice views) to play for Obama’s inaugurations? Or if HIllary had won?

      Also, as an employment attorney, I disagree with your take that this should have been a typical job expectation. The Rockettes perform in NYC, and sometimes in traveling shows. They do not perform at *every* inauguration, or even most of them. I don’t think it’s a reasonable expectation that if someone were to apply to be a rockette tomorrow, that in addition to performing in NYC regularly, that they should expect to perform at inaugurations in 2020, 2024, 2028, etc.

      • CItyHeat says:

        Thank you for your thoughts, I don’t agree with your legal take and I doubt the general counsel of the rockettes does either. but again….it is voluntary and it is all moot.

        Kinda like Obamas winning a 3rd term.😎

      • lightpurple says:

        I agree with Anonymous’s legal take. As an attorney defending corporations in labor cases, I very frequently disagree with HR executives. And the General Counsel of the Rockettes might also but, as most General Counsels must, probably is keeping his/her opinion out of the public and is focused on cleaning up whatever mess, his/her client has concocted now. Attorney/Client communications are not made public unless there is a dispute about the bill.

        BTW, the management of the Rockettes, Madison Square Garden Co, has lost several very high profile sexual harassment cases in several of its other businesses.

        The Rockettes did not begin to integrate until the mid-1980s.

    • Shambles says:

      Yeah, the Rockettes have performed at other inaugurations. But this isn’t a normal inauguration and Trump is not a normal president. No matter how many times you tell people to shut up, stop whining, and get over it, over half the country did not want him in office and we won’t be quiet about it.

    • Scout says:

      How tragic that you view people’s reaction to Trump being elected President, despite losing by nearly 3 million votes, is based in “disappointment” and not fear, grief, etc. You’re equating the practices of a company’s HR department to the rights of American citizens. Wild. I’m going to guess you didn’t have your job for very long. LoL, what a trip.

    • minx says:

      No, I won’t be “uber professional” and “celebrate the republic,” thanks.
      I plan on treating Trump how the Republicans treated Obama–a president who actually won. They never accepted that he was the legitimate president; they did everything to undermine and disrespect him. Karma is coming.

    • Lambda says:

      City, why did you change your name? Here’s the disconnect between what you’re saying and what other people are saying: you treat the prospect of Trump’s presidency as normal and business as usual, the others are saying that close to anything about president Trump is normal. I believe the burden of proof is on you.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      “I’m sympathetic to being disappointed in the presidential outcome and wishing it were different….but it’s your job at this point.”

      But for this election, it isn’t just simple disappointment. People feel that they and their families and loved ones are IN DANGER. It isn’t just that their team didn’t win, it is that so many people (women, Muslims, latinos, the black community, people of Jewish faith) have been threatened by Trump’s policies and his supporters.

      It’s easy to paint people’s reactions as overblown or hyperbole when you don’t feel endangered. People are in fight or flight right now.

    • kyra says:

      I think this goes beyond “upset” or “disappointed” — this man came to power using out-and-out anti-immigrant, anti-black, anti-anything-that-isn’t-white-and-christian platform. He has employed dog-whistle racist terms in his speeches, crystal clear messaging but sneakily employed — and sometimes not so sneakily. This has never happened so blatantly in the united states’ presidency in living memory. Many rockettes are immigrants or otherwise of color. I think this goes way beyond political upset and into fear and trauma. I’m sorry that you think having worked in HR makes it ok for you to be so cold to workers’ concerns. But I see no hyperbole here in protesting this gig.

      As for the snopes link, I cry BS. Jim Dolan the CEO of MSG is a Trump supporter. AGVA, the union who is supposed to negotiate on behalf of the dancers, only created new messaging after public outcry. As the dancer said, we’ll see who gets her job back when this is through. But I also wonder why anyone would want to work for this company now. Not all paychecks are created equal.

      And while I’m at it, I’m shocked to discover that IATSE crew members are pro-trump, since he is emphatically anti-union.

    • Tanya says:

      My mom loves the Rockettes. This was going to be the year she took my kids to see the Christmas spectacular. She was so excited, and now she’s refusing to go.

      So yeah, the brand IS ruined for her. And I bet we’re not the only family unwilling to bring our girls to see them.

  14. lightpurple says:

    He is tweeting again this morning that Obama is making inflammatory statements and making the transition go badly and about how he is going to defend Israel. The man is truly unhinged.

  15. A says:

    I doubt it will hurt their brand. The republic party got tens of millions and more votes.

  16. minx says:

    btw he looks terrible.
    My brother in law is exactly Drumpf’s age and looks far younger. Drumpf’s skin, eyes, weight, posture..,,he looks like he’s going to drop dead any second.

  17. IlsaLund says:

    Mark Hamill tweeted “Good Luck to #TheRockettes at the Inauguration. Have fun, but remain vigilant Ladies! There’s just so much to grab there. #TheyLetCelebsDoIt.”

  18. lightpurple says:

    Why does this whole thing just remind me of the Jabba the Hutt/Princess Leia scene?

  19. Jewbitch says:

    I *just* saw the Rockettes Monday night.

    1) the tickets are way more than $100/each
    2) there were many, many empty seats
    3) the show was awesome

  20. khaveman says:

    I think it’s hysterical they can’t find anyone to perform. They are probably sweating.

  21. Erica_V says:

    She makes so many good points I hope that any dance company would open their arms welcomingly to any lady that lost her job due to sticking to her beliefs over this.

    Side note – if these are recent pics I love that they still wear their Project Runway designed costumes.

  22. AMAZON says:

    Kanye…Please perform already!!! *rme*

  23. Chanteloup says:

    If I get two wishes:
    My first wish is that *none* of the Rockettes show up!
    If I don’t get my first wish, my second wish is that they suck, all over the place. All it would take is one dissident to mess up the whole carefully choreographed symmetry. Turn at the wrong time, kick the wrong way, fall down, moon the orange anal wart.
    You can force people to show up, but you can’t force them to put their hearts into it!

  24. Stephanie says:

    I emailed MSG stating pretty much the exact same thing.