Any and all participation by individual Rockettes members in Donald Trump’s inauguration celebration will be on a completely voluntary basis, the union that represents the dancers confirmed on Friday. So that should clear up today’s maelstrom.
“We took this very seriously and immediately contacted Radio City for a meeting to address this volatile situation,” the American Guild of Variety Artists told TheWrap in a Friday afternoon statement. “This is always the first course of action in a labor-management issue or dispute. Fortunately, the company has agreed that ALL participation in this particular event will be voluntary. We are greatly relieved and hope to work with our members to inform them and alleviate the anxiety and fears that this has caused.”
The union went on to clarify that it “never ‘demanded’ that the Rockettes perform at the inauguration.”
“A message was sent to the Rockettes last evening that stated the terms of their contract. There is a small group of year round Rockettes who are contractually obligated to perform at scheduled events throughout the year,” the AGVA explained. “We are pleased that Radio City has agreed that for those Rockettes with year-round employment, participation in this event will be voluntary as well.”
The Madison Square Garden Company, which owns Radio City Music Hall, told TheWrap earlier that the Rockettes can individually choose to either perform or pass on the inauguration. Earlier this week, it had announced the group’s traditional participation in the event.
“The Radio City Rockettes are proud to participate in the 58th Presidential Inaugural,” MSG explained earlier this afternoon. “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,” the company added.
Until the clarifying statements, the Internet was torn as to whether or not the Rockettes should be required to perform as contractually obligated. Many, including Patton Oswalt and Paul Feig vehemently defended a high-kicker’s right to boycott over political differences. Other Twitter users were not as compassionate.
At the time, MSG’s progressive stance seemed to directly contradict an earlier email written and sent by a high-ranking member of the AGVA, which the union referenced and addressed above. BroadwayWorld.com had posted the following note from the organization:
“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. [James] 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.”
“We have been made aware of what is going on Facebook and other social media, however, this does not change anything unless Radio City has a change of heart. The ranting of the public is just that, ranting. Everyone has a right to an opinion, but this does not change your employment status for those who are full time.”
“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.”
“Everyone is entitled to her own political beliefs, but there is no room for this in the workplace.”
“If you are not full time, you do not have to sign up to do this work. If you are full time, you are obligated. Doing the best performance to reflect an American Institution which has been here for over 90 years is your job. I hope this pulls into focus the bottom line on this work.”