By Bryan Altman
Shortly after it was announced that the world famous Radio City Rockettes would be dancing at President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, reports of discontent among performers in the famed dancing group began to circulate.READ MORE: Suffolk County Officials Urge Residents To Check Out 'Smart 911' App To Help Emergency Responders Save Lives
One performer took to Instagram and stated she was “embarrassed and disappointed” at the prospect of the performance, which triggered more social media backlash from current and former Rockettes.
According to an article published by Marie Claire, one dancer couldn’t contain her sadness after being informed that the group would be performing at the inauguration and “tears streamed down her face through all 90 minutes of their world-famous Christmas Spectacular” the day she heard about the performance.
As a result, according to another article from Marie Claire, James Dolan, who is the executive chairman of the Madison Square Garden Company, which employs the dancers, sat down with the Rockettes on Dec. 27 to allow the dancers to air their grievances over performing at the inauguration.
One particular back-and-forth exchange between Dolan and the dancers details how the owner of the Knicks and Rangers tried to persuade the group that performing isn’t an “endorsement” of Trump or his policies.
From Marie Claire:
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When asked by a woman in the room if that means the Rockettes support President-elect Trump outright, Dolan clarified “no,” but when pressed about the idea that aligning the Rockettes with such a controversial figure could tarnish the brand, Dolan didn’t budge: “I don’t believe it’s going to hurt the brand. And nobody is more concerned about that than the guy sitting in this chair…I gotta sell tickets.”
As the debate continued, Dolan shifted his focus onto the idea of being “tolerant” of others’ beliefs as well, stating the following:
From Marie Claire:
“I find it a little ironic—I get all of these emails, too, from people saying, ‘Don’t perform for this hateful person.’ And then they proceed to spew out this diatribe of hate. When another staffer spoke up about the backlash from the theater community in particular—the dancers’ friends and colleagues who “really suffered this past election cycle from this hate”—Dolan inquired, “How can they be your friends if they’re not tolerant of a different opinion?
One dancer eventually piped up: “I mean, it just sounds like you’re asking us to be tolerant of intolerance.” Her comment was followed by uncomfortable laughter around the room and a pause.
“Yeah, in a way, I guess we are doing that,” Dolan said. “What other choices do we have? What else would you suggest?”
Per a New York Times report, The Madison Square Garden Group issued a stern response through spokesman Barry Watkins, which painted the source of the Marie Claire article, identified only as “Mary,” as being “deceitful and cowardly” in secretly recording the group’s meeting with Dolan.
Watkins further stated that “This is one person who continues to attempt to represent the entire team of Rockettes. This time it’s in a story that is the result of an unauthorized recording that violated the confidentiality of all of her sister Rockettes.”
He also added that the decision to publish the piece was “beneath the ethical standards of Hearst.”
The Rockettes have a long history of performing at marquee events, including both the 2001 and 2005 inauguration ceremonies for President George W. Bush.MORE NEWS: Ribbon Cutting Marks Official Opening Of NYC's Newest Pride Health Center In The Bronx
The Madison Square Garden Group has stated that performing at the inauguration is “optional” but many of the performers are concerned about repercussions should they choose to skip the event on Jan. 20.