The Texas State Strutters High-Kick Into The Political Fray

Can the Texas State Strutters’ performance in the inaugural parade really be apolitical?

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(Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images

As we get closer to the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump on January 20, it seems we’re hearing more about celebrities and performers who won’t be attending the inauguration than about those who will. Notable artists such as Elton John and Celine Dion have declined invitations to perform. Canadian singer David Foster even took to Instagram to clear up rumors that he would be appearing at ceremony. 

The Trump inaugural committee has managed to secure a few performers, though. Jackie Evancho, a sixteen-year-old singer who got her start on America’s Got Talent will perform the national anthem. Over the holidays, it was announced that the Radio City Rockettes will also be performing at the inauguration, but the news of their participation was quickly followed by concerns from dancers who were upset about the booking (it was later clarified that participation in the event is elective). Meanwhile, the Texas State Strutters—a college dance team that applied to perform in the inaugural parade last January—announced their participation with excitement a few days before Christmas.

After the Strutters shared the news on social media, their accounts received mix responses. Although some have responded about the “honor” of what the Strutters referred to as a “once in lifetime performance opportunity” others have criticized the group for performing in the most controversial inauguration in recent history. A few users who responded to the @TXSTStrutters account on Twitter reported later being blocked, and as of now, the account seems to have been deactivated. 

So on a smaller scale, the Strutters have found themselves thrown into a similar situation as the Rockettes. Matthew Flores, a university spokesperson, emphasized that the Strutters are an “apolitical” dance group. “If people choose to look into [their participation] and make it something more politically motivated than it is, that’s their prerogative,” he said. “But again, the Strutters are a dance company, they’re outstanding performers, they have commitment to their craft and they act as goodwill ambassadors to the university, and this is precisely what they’re doing here.”

Unlike the Rockettes, none of the Strutters have backed out of their commitment to perform in the inauguration, though they all have the option to, Flores said. The backlash, apparently, hasn’t been enough to influence the college dancers, who Flores says made the commitment to participate nearly a year ago and will be paying for the cost of travel and accommodations of this trip out of pocket rather than using university funds.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, and that’s the way it’s being viewed by the vast majority of the Strutters who have said anything at all about it, either through social media or in conversations,” Flores said. “And to be able to take part in an activity such as this, it’s high profile and it gives them an opportunity to perform for a very wide audience as representatives of Texas State University, is in keeping with the practice that the Strutters routinely go through, so this is why they’re around, this is why they’re an organization. They are here to spread goodwill, they are there to be ambassadors of the university, they are there to continue to hone their craft as performers.”

But it’s hard to cast this simply as an opportunity for exposure, or even just as being part of a tradition. James Dolan, the Madison Square Garden executive chairman who made the decision to book the Rockettes in the inauguration, tried to explain the decision away during a meeting with the concerned dancers. “We’re celebrating a new president,” he said. “Not necessarily this president.” But you can’t separate an inauguration from the person being inaugurated.

It’s unsurprising that the Strutters are receiving so much backlash from their own university, considering that Trump’s election caused derision on Texas State’s campus. After the election, fliers calling for the “university leaders spouting off all this diversity garbage” to be arrested and tortured were posted around campus by a group calling themselves the “Texas State Vigilantes.” The election, the fliers, and a surge of racially-charged insults on campus made Texas State one of the many campuses where students held anti-Trump protests days after the election.

And yet, “ambassadors of the university” will perform at Trump’s inauguration. It might be too much to put this sort of pressure on a group of dancers, but if they are indeed university ambassadors, then they have some accountability to the university they represent, including fellow classmates as well as faculty and staff who feel marginalized by Trump’s rhetoric and unsafe on campus following the election. The Strutters may not have foreseen applying to participate in the inaugural parade as a controversial decision last January, but, at the very least, choosing to go forward with the performance is not the apolitical move the university’s attempting to depict it as. The Strutters may just be college dancers hoping to advance and continue their dance careers, but it’s definitely worth considering at what costs they’re willing to do so.

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  • St. Anger

    “It’s unsurprising that the Strutters are receiving so much backlash from their own university, considering that Trump’s election caused derision on Texas State’s campus. After the election, fliers calling for the “university leaders spouting off all this diversity garbage” to be arrested and tortured were posted around campus by a group calling themselves the “Texas State Vigilantes.” The election, the fliers, and a surge of racially-charged insults on campus made Texas State one of the many campuses where students held anti-Trump protests days after the election.”

    sentence one meet sentence two.

    as someone who has briefly attended texas state, i have no trouble believing that the entire white student population there is practicing the sieg heil salute as i type this.

    there are a lot of minority students enrolled there. i have no idea how (or why) they stand it.

    • Roger

      And, as usual, the racists are are the ones looking to divide. Who are the REAL RACISTS, looks just like you’re one of them…..

      • St. Anger

        As usual, the fascists deflect with the old rubber glue defense.

        I didn’t make a comment about an entire race. Just a school. So that makes me a schoolist, if you like. Guilty as charged.

  • SpiritofPearl

    Dancing for a fascist. Shame.

    • TNTX

      Shame on you for being an idiot

      • SpiritofPearl

        Shame on you for destroying America!

        • TNTX

          Trump will make America Great Again! You’re just a delusional loser!

          • SpiritofPearl

            Your heart will be broken. Trump is nuts .

          • TNTX

            Hillary is a crook. Trump is the best chance we have.

          • SpiritofPearl

            You don’t get out much, do you?

          • TNTX

            You’re mother and I get out plenty.

          • SpiritofPearl

            My mother’s been dead for 20 years. Necrophilia must be your lust.

            Blocking you. You’re stupid and boring.

          • TNTX

            You’re mom didn’t think so

          • RAYMOND GONZALEZ

            You don’t have the cojones to socratically debate! “We” if by ‘we’ you mean the 5th grade & home-schooled horde then i’ll try to be a little more respectful… I’m keeping this conversation relatively short my Amigo, because I still can vividly visualize the wannabe juvenile schmucks having short cerebral attention span and moreover it’s about your bedtime. When you serendipitously manage to wake-up, look into the mirror and ask yourself what socially redeemable value you bring to any discourse besides agitating that proverbial catchy dumb-ass jingles like 2008-“Drill baby drill!!” 2012-“We did ourselves!” and for 2016 the infamous “Lock her Up” duffest crowd motivation. Otherwise you don’t have any principle moral-compass, virtues and/or family principles. It’s the reason yawl seemingly chose moronic standard-bearers with the intellect of an emaciated elephant. Besides your not a real Republican, but rather some piss-off douchebag who accomplish little K-12 and now wants to blame the world for his lot. Un dicho, cool arrow.

          • TNTX

            Build the wall!!! And deport illegals such as yourself!

  • Lori Nicholson

    Don’t listen to the naysayers… Go, enjoy the opportunity, live a moment in history, etc. I attended inauguration festivities, including the inauguration ceremony, the parade and a ball, several years ago for a president-elect that I did not vote for. IT DOES NOT MATTER! Our nation voted, the result is the result, its still a very memorable event.

  • Wurty

    The students were racist. Don’t blame it on Trump. It’s the students who were acting up towards each other. The State of Texas voted for Trump. Get over it. Let the Strutters enjoy the party.

    • RAYMOND GONZALEZ

      “He won the State of Texas” now that’s a stretch. He survived simple plurality and not the majority vote! he damn-well didn’t win the simple plurality in my county. it’s relatively obvious that even some of the republican pledge “electors” don’t feel the same enthusiastic sticktoitiveness to the process. Let’s not ‘otherwise’ or commodify the Texas Voter.. Un dicho

      • TNTX

        8 more days! Can’t wait!

        • RAYMOND GONZALEZ

          Are you the moral compass hall monitor, if so, then what’s your beef with the rest of us who chose to jot-down and share a little cerebral venting. Nothing wrong with exaggerating our partisan outrage, days before the catastrophic tsunami? Ya see my impetuous compadre for the past 7 plus years this unapologetic Democrat has patiently listen to the loads of nonsensical bull-pucky yawl amusingly have propagated and proliferated in a nihilistic Machiavellian blood-sport. The lady below is just expressing her loathing of yawl’s potty-talking. – don’t you know? As for he Vietnam veteran if your are up to a mano a mano Socratic debate then just say the word.. I’m an Eisenhower Republican and I eat insurance companies for breakfast, conservatives wannabes for lunch and conservative Catholics for din-din. And you Sir are no republican just a boorish bully, consequently stand appose. Un dicho – cool-arrow…..

          • TNTX

            You’ve taken too many hits on that bong. 5 more days!!!!

          • RAYMOND GONZALEZ

            Your chest-thumping seems a little precipitate as the news isn’t going well for the New York schlemiel. Your can commemorate to yawl’s juvenile delight, but based on the duffest schmuck behavior, yawl got a psychotic rough elephant by the horns. Its gong to be fun watching the Payaso, but I’m still more incline to debate ya mano a mano! Un dicho cool-arrow.

          • TNTX

            Dude, put the crack pipe down.

          • TNTX

            You are right. I’m not a Republican. I’m a free thinking, independent voter. I have no idea what “un dicho – cool-arrow” means. I guess that’s something you’ve made up. Sounds silly. Go back to your grubby bathroom mirror “your safe space” and talk to yourself there.

  • José

    If you think that some folks are making this political by asking that the Strutters decline the invitation, just remember that when the Braggart-in-Chief makes it political, saying that all these people showed up to praise HIM.

    • José

      “We are going to have an unbelievable, perhaps record-setting turnout for the inauguration, and there will be plenty of movie and entertainment stars.”
      —Donald Trump

      Personality cults might be OK in Russia but they are positively un-American.