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Rockettes Are Still Divided About Performing for Donald Trump

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The Rockette ranks are divided about performing for President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, the New York Times reported.

After the announcement that the famed New York dance group would perform for the president-elect, dancer Phoebe Pearl shared her disappointment in a now-deleted social media post about having to dance for Trump. Her message garnered support from other dancers and the general public. After reports that the Rockettes were forced to perform at the event, Madison Square Garden Company, which owns the Rockettes, said that the performance was voluntary.

The Times scored the first interview with Pearl, who said she stands by her decision to speak out — and revealed she’s since left the organization to appear in film and television. “People have been calling me courageous,” Pearl said at an event attended by the Times. “But I don’t see it that way. I’m just standing up for human rights.”

Former Rockette Rhonda Malkin, who previously worked as a personal trainer for Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, said Pearl made a “real risk” by straying, but added that a number of current Rockettes were upset when they were initially told that they’d have to perform for Trump. “I’ve also heard the women of color are very upset. From what I have heard, it has just caused a real rift in the company,” Malkin said.

But other former Rockettes think that the dancers should stay silent. Rockette Alumnae Association President Patty DeCarlo Grantham told the Times that some alumnae of the organization are frustrated that some Rockettes are resisting performing. “So many people wrote to me and said, ‘I feel so ashamed about what’s going on,’” Grantham told the Times. “We feel like it’s a great honor to be asked to dance.”

A Madison Square Garden Company spokesperson declined to comment to the Times.

[The New York Times]


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Write to Samantha Cooney at samantha.cooney@time.com