ENTERTAINMENT
01/03/2017 09:53 am ET Updated Jan 10, 2017

Male Manager Encourages Rockette Dancers To 'Tolerate Intolerance'

“What other choices do we have? What else would you suggest?”
The Rockettes appear on ABC's "The Chew" on Dec. 16.
Lorenzo Bevilaqua via Getty Images
The Rockettes appear on ABC's "The Chew" on Dec. 16.

Individual Radio City Rockettes may opt out of the group’s performance during Donald Trump’s upcoming inauguration celebration, management has stated, if they do not wish to appear supportive of the president-elect.

Behind the scenes, however, manager James Dolan’s attitude toward the highly politicized event is more flippant, according to a report from Marie Claire.

Citing a transcript from a private meeting with the dance company, the publication reports that Dolan, who serves as Madison Square Garden Company executive chairman, encouraged the Rockettes to “tolerate” Trump supporters, some of whom belong to the sexist and white nationalist alt-right movement ― seemingly no matter what.

“I mean, it just sounds like you’re asking us to be tolerant of intolerance,” one dancer reportedly said in the meeting. Other dancers previously expressed concern over backlash and social media abuse the company has received since their performance announcement. 

“Yeah, in a way, I guess we are doing that,” Dolan replied. “What other choices do we have? What else would you suggest?”

Dolan reportedly focused on the idea of “tolerance” during the meeting, which took place Dec. 27, with the largely white group of dancers. He compared some Trump supporters’ hateful messages with those of dissenters writing in protest of the company’s decision to perform, labeling it all “ironic.”

Dolan defended the decision in part by stating that he did not think it would hurt the brand, according to the transcript.

“I would simply say, we’re celebrating a new president, not necessarily this president,” he said. 

The Marie Claire piece comes on the heels of continued reports that the Trump team is having trouble finding performers for his Jan. 20 Inauguration Day. British “X Factor” singer Rebecca Ferguson recently stated she will not agree to perform unless she can sing the anti-racism ballad “Strange Fruit.” 

So far, the Rockettes will be joined by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and “America’s Got Talent” singer Jackie Evancho.

Madison Square Garden, which oversees the Rockettes, stated in response to the story that Dolan “stands behind everything he said during the meeting.” But the company disavowed the anonymous person who produced the recording by suggesting it was made by the same disgruntled dancer who previously spoke out against the inauguration performance. Read MSG’s full statement below: 

This is one person who continues to attempt to represent the entire team of Rockettes. 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 the 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. We are deeply disappointed in their decision to post this story.

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