Entertainment

Former Rockette Says Inauguration Can Unite USA

What a breath of fresh air — a positive note about the performances on Jan. 20

There has been a surprising amount of controversy surrounding the upcoming Jan. 20 presidential inauguration, specifically in regard to the performance of the dancing Rockettes. One retired member of the group has now urged performers to put politics aside in an attempt to bring the country together.

“The only thing the Rockettes should be focused on is performing for our nation and helping unite us all with the joy, love, beauty and strength for which they are famous,” Patty DeCarlo Grantham, a retired member of the troupe and president of the Rockette Alumnae Association, told the New York Post.

Grantham’s words come after much speculation surrounding the impending performance of the Rockettes at President-Elect Donald Trump’s inauguration.

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One current dancer, Phoebe Pearl, wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post that she was “embarrassed” to be performing for Trump and that dancers would be on stage with “tears in our eyes and heavy hearts.”

The post had many people concerned that dancers were being forced to perform under duress. The Madison Square Garden Company, however, later released a statement last week ensuring people that all the dancers who would be onstage at the inauguration would be there voluntarily.

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To make matters worse, former Rockette Autumn Withers wrote in an open letter to The Wrap that it was “atrocious” for the dancing troupe to be performing on Jan. 20th.

“On a national level, the optics of this alone normalize the atrocious remarks Mr. Trump has openly made towards women,” wrote Withers. “The idea that if you simply ask their bosses or perhaps pay their bosses enough money, a line of beautiful women will oblige anyone in any way is exploitation …”

She continued, “Is it not then covert sexual harassment to ask America’s most iconic troupe of female dancers to ‘volunteer’ to wear costumes and dance for a man who has a known public history of degrading women?”

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Despite confirmation that performers would be volunteers, Withers still believed the dancers were being forced to take the stage. “By definition, voluntary means ‘of one’s accord or by free choice.’ Is it ‘free choice’ if you know that your boss wants you onstage in Washington regardless of your objections? The future of your Rockette career may then hinge on the choice you make,” wrote Withers, who was a Rockette from 2005 to 2007.

Grantham responded to Withers by writing in an email to Madison Square Garden Company owner James Dolan, “In no way does Ms. Withers’ opinions reflect the opinion of the Rockette Alumnae Association.” The Association consists of 552 members.

Related: Rockette Kicks Up a Storm Over Trump Inauguration Performance

Grantham, who was a full-time Rockette for 11 years, had words that struck a far more positive chord compared to others chiming in about the inauguration by continuing in her email, “Like the millions of people who are true Rockette fans, we cannot wait to see the Rockettes proudly ‘strut their stuff’ for the upcoming inauguration of the President of the United States of America.”

The Rockettes will perform at the inauguration, as will “America’s Got Talent” runner-up Jackie Evancho and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

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