The Radio City Rockettes with Donald Trump in 2004

The dance world has been up in arms this past week as the Rockettes announced that they will be performing at President-Elect Donald Trump's inauguration next month. Reports began to circulate that the dancers are contractually obligated to dance at the ceremony, and if they refused, they would lose their job. Many took to social media to express their anger, saying that, given the tumultuous election and its result, this was extremely unfair to the performers. The conflict escalated when several news outlets began to publish a post from Rockette Phoebe Pearl's private Instagram account stating that she was "embarrassed and disappointed" that the company had decided to have them perform without including the dancers in the decision.

The Rockettes (AP Photo/Chris Gardner, File)
The Rockettes (AP Photo/Chris Gardner, File)

The Madison Square Garden Company, which manages the Rockettes, released a statement to deal with the backlash. “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." The statement also said that the inauguration has been a very popular opportunity, with more dancers requesting to sign up than they have room for.

An agreement was reached on Friday that allows the dancers, even if they are full time, to opt-out of performing in the ceremony. However, former Rockette Heather Lang spoke to the New York Times, saying that even though they may not be obligated, the dancers are still under a great deal of pressure to perform in instances like this, afraid that refusing would threaten future employment opportunities. Stay tuned...

Main photo: The Radio City Rockettes with Donald Trump in 2004 (Scott Gries/Getty Images)

About the author

Anne Luben has performed works by notable choreographers such as Donald McKayle, Bill T. Jones, Jiri Kylian, Idan Cohen, Alex Ketley, and Summer Lee Rhatigan, among others.