MSG Kicks Back Over Rockettes

What began as a fray between members of The Rockettes and employer

The fashion magazine posted a story to its website Jan. 3 under a headline claiming management told the dancers to “tolerate intolerance” that included quotes attributed to dancers and executive chairman James Dolan from a private Dec. 27 meeting.

Erin Williams /
– The Rockettes
Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.

Dolan reportedly called the meeting to address concerns made public by some Rockettes about performing for the inauguration and fears the brand had been politicized.

“I don’t believe it’s going to hurt the brand,” Dolan was quoted as saying. “And nobody is more concerned about that than the guy sitting in this chair. I’m about to spend $50 million remounting this summer show. I’m going to spend a similar amount remounting next year’s Christmas show. I gotta sell tickets.”

Some dancers alleged they have been targeted on social media over the uproar. “The social media backlash on both sides of the political spectrum has been unbearable, I think,” one dancer was quoted during the meeting. “…The Rockettes have always been apolitical, and now by performing at this particular inauguration, it’s making us political.”

Dolan reportedly responded that he hadn’t seen hate coming from the pro-Trump side, to which the dancer responded, “I’ve had people messaging me: ‘Just shut up and dance.’

“We were #1 trending on Twitter it’s just really hard to see, especially our faces being likened to Nazis,” she added. In response to Dolan’s reported appeals to tolerance, one dancer said, “It just sounds like you’re asking us to be tolerant of intolerance.”
Dolan reportedly responded, “Yeah, in a way, I guess we are doing that. What other choices do we have?”
The magazine did not name its source, identified only as one of the dancers who apparently recorded the meeting that took place the same day Marie Claire published another story detailing unhappiness among some of the dancers over the booking and claims the Rockettes were “blindsided” by the announcement of the inauguration performance.

MSG reportedly did not respond to requests from Marie Claire for comment after the initial story was published, but did respond the night before Dolan’s purported quotes appeared on the magazine’s website.

Another statement accusing the publication of using “only a small portion” of that statement was issued soon after the story was posted. “This is one person who continues to attempt to represent the entire team of Rockettes,” Barry Watkins, chief communications officer for Madison Square Garden Co., said in the statement. “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 a 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 (Communications, which publishes Marie Claire). We are deeply disappointed in their decision to post this story.”

Dolan announced a week earlier that the Rockettes would perform at the Trump inauguration, and some of the dancers took to social media to denounce the decision in light of comments made by Trump regarding women, minorities and immigrants.

It was later announced by MSG and the Rockettes’ union that individual dancers would not be required to perform.