Rock­ettes' in­au­gu­ra­tion per­for­mance is 'Vol­un­tary,' union con­firms

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Just when you thought the hul­la­baloo sur­round­ing who will per­form at Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump's in­au­gu­ra­tion was dy­ing down, it's now turned into a whole song and dance.

Fol­low­ing an an­nounce­ment on Thurs­day that the Ra­dio City Rock­ettes would be per­form­ing at the Jan. 20 event, one dancer took to In­sta­gram to ex­press her "em­bar­rass­ment" and "dis­ap­point­ment" at what she de­scribed as a forced com­mit­ment.

"I usu­ally don't use so­cial me­dia to make a po­lit­i­cal stand but I feel over­whelmed with emo­tion," Rock­ette Phoebe Pearl wrote in a now-deleted post on her per­sonal ac­count. "Find­ing out that it has been de­cided for us that Rock­ettes will be per­form­ing at the Pres­i­den­tial in­au­gu­ra­tion makes me feel em­bar­rassed and dis­ap­pointed. The women I work with are in­tel­li­gent and are full of love and the de­ci­sion of per­form­ing for a man that stands for ev­ery­thing we're against is ap­palling. I am speak­ing for just my­self but please know that af­ter we found out this news, we have been per­form­ing with tears in our eyes and heavy hearts. We will not be forced! #not­mypres­i­dent."

Talk of boy­cotting

Ac­cord­ing to Broad­wayWorld, the Amer­i­can Guild of Va­ri­ety Artists, which rep­re­sents the Rock­ettes, sent an email to its mem­bers that stressed "any talk of boy­cotting this event is in­valid." The email re­port­edly con­cluded with the bolded, un­der­lined state­ment: "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." The email, au­then­ti­cated by Broad­wayWorld, was re­port­edly sent by a high-rank­ing mem­ber of the union's ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The union has since clar­i­fied its po­si­tion, and con­firmed that all mem­bers who par­tic­i­pate in Trump's in­au­gu­ra­tion per­for­mance will do so vol­un­tar­ily. In a state­ment, the AGVA writes that when con­cern arose from their mem­bers and the gen­eral public they "im­me­di­ately con­tacted Ra­dio City for a meet­ing" to ad­dress the sit­u­a­tion.

"For­tu­nately, the Com­pany has agreed that all par­tic­i­pa­tion in this par­tic­u­lar event will be vol­un­tary," the state­ment says, go­ing on to dis­pute "mis­in­for­ma­tion" re­gard­ing the union's po­si­tion. "There is a small group of year round Rock­ettes who are con­trac­tu­ally ob­li­gated to per­form at sched­uled events through­out the year. We are pleased that Ra­dio City has agreed that for those Rock­ettes with year­round em­ploy­ment, par­tic­i­pa­tion in this event will be vol­un­tary as well," the union's state­ment reads.

Madi­son Square Gar­den Com­pany, which over­sees the Ra­dio City Rock­ettes, also in­sists that par­tic­i­pa­tion is up to the per­form­ers, the com­pany said in a state­ment on Fri­day.

"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, ob­tained by mul­ti­ple out­lets, reads. "It is al­ways their choice. In fact, for the com­ing in­au­gu­ra­tion, we had more Rock­ettes re­quest to par­tic­i­pate than we have slots avail­able. We ea­gerly await the in­au­gu­ral cel­e­bra­tions."

The drama un­folded hours af­ter Trump tweeted that "so­called A-list celebri­ties" want tick­ets to his in­au­gu­ra­tion. "The so-called 'A' list celebri­ties are all want­ing tixs to the in­au­gu­ra­tion, but look what they did for Hil­lary, NOTH­ING," he wrote. — Reuters

In this Wed­nes­day, Jan. 19, 2005, file photo, the Rock­ettes per­form dur­ing the Cel­e­bra­tion of Freedom Con­cert on the El­lipse, with the White House in the back­ground in Wash­ing­ton.

In this June 7, 2016, file photo, dancers from the Ra­dio City Rock­ettes pro­mote their "New York Spec­tac­u­lar" show by per­form­ing on the marquee of Ra­dio City Mu­sic Hall in New York. — AP pho­tos

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