The parent company of the Rockettes said Friday that participation in President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, which had reportedly been protested by at least one dancer when it was announced Thursday, was “voluntary,” contradicting earlier reports.
The Madison Square Garden Company, of which the Rockettes are a part, told The Hollywood Reporter Friday morning that dancers “must voluntarily sign up and are never told they have to perform at a particular event, including the inaugural. It is always their choice.”
“In fact,” the statement continued, “for the coming inauguration, we had more Rockettes request to participate than we have slots available. We eagerly await the inaugural celebrations.”
That statement seems to contradict an email reported by BroadwayWorld, an industry publication, on Thursday. In it, an unnamed high-ranking administrative member of the union representing the Rockettes known as the American Guild of Variety Artists acknowledged reported protests by at least one member of the group, but said that dancers had to perform and were contractually required to do so.
“We have been made aware of what is going on Facebook and other social media, however, this does not change anything unless Radio City has a change of heart,” an email from the unnamed union official reads in part, according to a report in BroadWay world, an entertainment industry publication.
“If you are not full time, you do not have to sign up to do this work. If you are full time, you are obligated,” it added later.
Representatives for the American Guild of Variety Artists and The Madison Square Garden Company did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment for this story.
On Thursday, Amanda Duarte, a producer and commentator, claimed on her Facebook page that “Most of the Rockettes do not want to perform at the inauguration.”
Noting that their union would require them to perform anyways, Duarte added: “It’s perfect, actually. What could be more fitting for this inauguration than forcing a group of women to do something with their bodies against their will?”
James Dolan, the executive chairman of The Madison Square Garden Company, announced Thursday that the Rockettes would perform at Trump’s inauguration. Booking entertainers for the event has so far proved difficult for Trump.