The notion of performing at an American presidential inauguration seems a simple one: No matter the audience, the president or the politics, it’s a great honor to perform at this historic event.
The announced performers at Donald Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration are, so far, the “America’s Got Talent” runner-up Jackie Evancho, who will sing the national anthem; The Mormon Tabernacle Choir; and the world-famous dance company, The Rockettes.
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Evancho has revealed she and her family have been harassed because of the decision. A petition is also garnering signatures in the hope of cancelling the Tabernacle performance; and now the Rockettes are dealing with the disappointment of some in their ranks who don’t want to perform for the next president of the United States — because they’re “embarrassed.”
After the Rockettes’ planned performance was announced Thursday, a current dancer, Phoebe Pearl, wrote in an Instagram post —which has since been deleted — that she felt “embarrassed and disappointed” to learn that the dance troupe would be performing for Trump, a man she claims “stands for everything we’re against.”
This dancer further said the Rockettes would complete the performance “with tears in our eyes and heavy hearts.”
The words whipped the mainstream media into a frenzy — reporters immediately assumed the Rockettes were being forced to perform despite their objections. “The Rockettes to Perform at Donald Trump’s Inauguration, Whether They Like It or Not,” wrote NPR in a headline — before updating its story.
Other protesters banded together to lodge complaints against The Madison Square Garden Company, which runs the Rockettes. To clear up the controversy, the company told The Associated Press, “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.”
The company added that despite negative media attention, many of the dancers were excited at the opportunity to attend the inauguration — and noted that “we had more Rockettes request to participate than we have slots available.”
The American Guild of Variety Artists, which represents the Rockettes dancers, said in a Friday statement to ABC News that the impending performance “has brought up a legitimate concern among our members, the theatrical community and the public at large.” However, it made clear that participation is completely voluntary, even for year-round employees typically obliged to perform at scheduled events.
The Rockettes previously performed for former president George W. Bush in 2001 and 2005. The new controversy surrounding the Rockettes’ performance comes on the heels of rumors about Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli being pushed out of the inauguration due to fan backlash and the potential of a boycott.
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It’s hard to believe such controversy surrounding an inauguration. No matter one’s opinion or politics, the event on Jan. 20 is a celebration of the democratic process and our country’s future. There is no changing the fact that Donald Trump will be president — so to see artists feeling harassed about the honor of performing at the event is just downright unpatriotic and strange.
As far as The Rockettes go, if some dancers are too precious and distressed to perform at this extraordinary event for our next president — then there are plenty of others who seem ready and willing to jump at the chance. Artists and performers shouldn’t avoid or balk at the individual who will occupy the highest office in the land. They should embrace the new president and his team.
Art is about bringing people together despite differences — not about driving people apart. Yet this inauguration has proven that many on the Left and some artists have that exact goal.