The Legendary Radio City Rockettes
Please note: Ballet with Becca in not politically affiliated in any way. We celebrate all viewpoints and opinions as long as they are not harmful to others.
The dance world was thrown into a frenzy last December when it was announced that the legendary Radio City Rockettes would perform at president-elect Donald Trump's Presidential Inauguration this month. There was a lot of back in forth about whether or not they were being forced to perform and questions about whether or not they could or should boycott the event. Here's what my research on the controversy has concluded:
1) The Rockettes were asked to perform for the event. The Company accepted this invitation.
2) Both and article and a widely quoted Instagram post were published saying that the full-time Rockettes were contractually obligated to perform.
3) The world was shaken by these first two facts. Before the election, a video was released that featured the then candidate saying degrading things about women and about how he touches them without their consent. People who were not in favor of the candidate compare the video to the Rockette fiasco, saying that women being forced to dance for this man is just a repetition of the gruesome video and is not how they want the U.S.'s next four years to begin.
4) The management of the Rockettes released a statement claiming that the dancers would not be forced to perform.
5) Another message from the management was forwarded to the New York Times, claiming that the full time dancers were in fact contractually obligated to perform.
6) There is no way to tell what really goes on behind the curtains between the Rockettes and their management, but nonetheless they will be dancing at Trump's Inauguration.
At the end of the day, there are things that go in a professional dancer's life that the world will never understand. We don't know what is stated in their contracts and we don't know what goes on between them and their bosses. However, we can conclude that even if they are not being forced to perform at this particular event, like any other job, their bosses will not be thrilled with them if they chose to boycott. The performing arts are a dog eat dog world, and there are a thousand girls just like you ready to take your hard earned spot the minute you miss a beat. Even if those girls are not being forced to dance, you sure as hell can bet they are feeling the pressure to.
This, of course, raises a moral question...should they be forced or pressured to dance at an event supporting something that goes against their beliefs? This shouldn't even be a question. No one should be forced to do something that feels immoral to them. But that is a separate issue that has more to do with management than the Rockettes themselves. It's time we put ourselves in their golden tap shoes and look at their options.
To dance or not dance...that is the question.
The dilemma with this question is that many of us are unsure of what's really going on here. We see girls dancing for either a strongly admired or strongly disdained man. We only see it three-dimensionally; we fail to see what's going on in the dancers' minds, bodies, and hearts. Worst of all...we see this one event changing dancers' entire careers. If a girl was to walk away (if she is contractually allowed to) just because she doesn't want to dance at this event, she is making her dancing about him. She is saying that if she doesn't dance for him, she doesn't dance at all (as in, she gives up her career because of him). While I am no professional dancer and only have 20 years of life to backup my "wisdom", I have to say there is no human being on the face of the earth worth giving up dance- or any passion for that matter- for. When the Rockettes perform at the inauguration, even those girls who are truly against him and what he stands for are not dancing for Trump. They are dancing so that they can dance another day. They are dancing for all the little girls who dream of being one of them someday. Most importantly, they are dancing for themselves because they are fulfilling their lifelong dream.
Some dancers would walk away from their art because of a controversy like this. If she feels like that is what she needs to do in order to express her opinions and stand up for herself and her beliefs, she has every right to do so and we can't blame her for that. But we also have to remember that when we assume the girls are either in favor of the president-elect or are too weak to boycott the event, we are wrong. Standing up for what you believe in is crucial for an artist, but that can be done by dancing another day. Some might compare it to Hairspray, when Tracy Turnblad risks losing up her spot dancing on The Corny Collins Show because she protests for equal rights, but the difference is is that that protest negatively affected the network. The Rockettes' absence from Trump's inauguration won't bother him in the slightest...it will only be one more way his actions negatively impacted those dancers' lives.
Long story short, we cannot judge the Rockettes for the decisions they make regarding this topic. In today's society, artists are obligated to keep their craft alive by any means possible. Who knows...maybe their tap dancing will inspire Trump to give more funding to the arts (a girl can dream, right?). As Eva in the film Center Stage said, "I'm not dancing for them anymore, I'm dancing for me". What the dancers think is the best way to make their statements and spread their art is up to them to decide and we have to trust their decisions.
And to all dancers...while you're dancing through life, remember the only person you ever have to truly dance for is you.
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9/18 Follow my new Instagram just for my dance things!
12/23 I was one of NDEO's Guest Bloggers this year! Read "Teaching is a Vocation. Not a Fallback" on their Behind the Curtain Blog!
9/27 I will be presenting my research at the National Dance Education Organization National Conference next week! See my research project by clicking the button below!
4/15 While working on PMA's production of The Addams Family, I got to combine my two favorite styles of dance (ballet and musical theatre) for "The Moon and Me"! Watch my talented students dance by clicking the button below!
2/20 I am choreographing PMA Theatre Guild's Production of The Addams Family! Come see these amazing high school students perform at Presentation of Mary Academy in Methuen, MA April 13 & 14! Tickets available at the door.
2/20 I am stage managing BSU's Dance Kaleidoscope this year! Show dates are March 29-31 at Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater, MA. Come see this student choreography showcase!
11/5 I will once again be dancing in a BSUDC concert! Tickets to WinterDance are now available!
8/24 NDEO's National Honor Society for Dance Arts has published one of my articles in their newsletter! Read an updated version of "Audition Advice" here:
5/16 Interested in learning about movement concepts? Visit Becca's new Educational Dance website!
5/8 BSU Dance Company's Dance Kaleidoscope 2017 is now on Youtube! You can watch my performances by visiting the VIDEOS page!
4/23 I recently performed for the residents of Allerton House in Hingham, MA! You can watch part of my performance here!
Amesbury Children's Theatre presents...James and the Giant Peach Jr, featuring choreography by me! Click for tickets!
2/8 My piece "Barefoot" is now available to watch online! Click to watch!
2/5 Happy to say I have been cast in BSU Dance Company's Spring concert Dance Kaleidoscope! I will be dancing in 3 faculty choreographed pieces, including excerpts from The Sleeping Beauty in which I will be dancing the role of Lilac Fairy! Show dates are March 31-April 1 at Bridgewater State University.
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1/15 Ballet with Becca is now on Facebook! Click to visit the page, and be sure to like it while you're there!
1/14 I am happy to say I will be attending artEmotion's summer intensive in June! I will be dancing in the one week artEmotion Adult Program. If anyone would like to join or audition for any other artEmotion program, visit their website!