“In light of the socially divisive and morally caustic narrative that our current leadership is choosing to engage in, and in keeping with the principles that I and so many others have fought for, I will be declining the invitation to attend the reception at the White House,” she said in a written statement provided to the Washington Post.
She isn’t the only one sitting out the traditional to-do at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., hosted by the president and first lady. Television writer/producer Norman Lear, another of the chosen 2017 honorees, is skipping. And singer-songwriter Lionel Richie is a “maybe” — he said this week he was “playing it by ear.” Other honorees are taking a different approach: Cuban American singer Gloria Estefan has said she’ll go, in the hopes of bending Trump’s ear about the value of immigrants in American culture.
De Lavallade, 86, is a dancer, choreographer and actress who was a principal guest performer with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and was one of the first African Americans to dance for the Metropolitan Opera. Though her home is in New York, her work has taken her close to Charlottesville, the scene of a deadly white supremacist rally this weekend, which Trump has been criticized for failing to sufficiently condemn.
De Lavallade is staging a ballet by John Butler called “Portrait of Billie,” about Billie Holiday, for the Richmond Ballet.