A secret recording that was made during a surprise Dec. 27 meeting between the Rockettes and Madison Square Garden executive chairman James Dolan reveals how divided the women’s dance troupe remains over their planned inauguration performance on Jan. 20.
According to a recording of the meeting that was obtained by Marie Claire, a dancer told Dolan “it just sounds like you’re asking us to be tolerant of intolerance.” It was apparently the first time the Rockettes met with Dolan since news of their performance for President-elect Donald Trump was announced.
“Yeah, in a way, I guess we are doing that,” Dolan is quoted as saying. “What other choices do we have? What else would you suggest?”
Another dancer expressed concern that performing at the inauguration could hurt the Rockettes brand. “We were No. 1 trending on Twitter and it’s just really hard to see, especially our faces being likened to Nazis,” said the dancer. “Is this not something we could have foreseen? I think it’s been really hard for all of us. Especially around Christmas, and the schedule’s so hard, and we’re all so tired.”
Responded Dolan, “How can they be your friends if they’re not tolerant of a different opinion?” He later told the women “we’re celebrating a new president, not necessarily this president.”
“Every four years we put in a new president. It’s a huge moment in the country’s history,” Dolan told the group. “It usually signifies a whole change in how the government is going to run. The fact that we get to participate in it…we are an American brand, and I think it’s very appropriate that the Rockettes dance in the inaugural and 4th of July and our country’s great historical moments.”
On Tuesday, Madison Square Garden Chief Communications Officer Barry Watkins released this statement addressing the secret recording of the meeting: “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. While Mr. Dolan stands behind everything he said during the meeting, no one in that room believed they were speaking publicly. Everyone in the meeting had the chance to speak their mind in a safe setting, and many did. Her secret recording was deceitful and cowardly and has betrayed all of her fellow Rockettes. Posting this story is beneath the ethical standards of Hearst [which owns Marie Claire]. We are deeply disappointed in their decision to post this story.”
In December, an anonymous dancer spoke to Marie Claire about the decision to have the Rockettes perform at this month’s inauguration. “This is not a Republican or Democrat issue—this is a women’s rights issue,” the dancer said. “This is an issue of racism and sexism, something that’s much bigger than politics. … 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.”