Well that settles it. No one, it seems, will be forced to leg kick against their will. After lots of online criticism and calls for boycotts, the company that manages the Radio City Rockettes and the union that represents the dancers both agreed that any performer can choose to opt out of President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration. The announcement came after claims that dancers were being pushed to perform or otherwise risk being put in a Rockettes blacklist.
“For a Rockette to be considered for an event, they must voluntarily sign up and are never told they have to perform at a particular event, including the inaugural,” the Madison Square Garden Co., which employs the dancers, said in a statement. “It is always their choice. In fact, for the coming inauguration, we had more Rockettes request to participate than we have slots available.”
The union that represents the dancers, the American Guild of Variety Artists, also issued a statement saying that the company “has agreed that ALL participation in this particular event will be voluntary.” The use of the word “all” is significant because there is a small group of Rockettes who have year-round contracts and under contract are obligated to perform at scheduled events. But the inauguration will be an exception. “We are pleased that Radio City has agreed that for those Rockettes with year-round employment, participation in this event will be voluntary as well,” the union said.
This will not be the first time that the Rockettes take part in the festivities surrounding a presidential swearing-in. The dancers also participated in George W. Bush’s inaugurations in 2001 and 2005. Other performers scheduled to take part in Trump’s inauguration include the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and America’s Got Talent star Jackie Evancho, who will reportedly be singing the national anthem.
There was also some criticism of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s participation in the inauguration with at least one former choir member saying he was shocked by the decision. “I expect the church to stand on their moral high ground,” he told KUTV. But the LDS church released a statement making clear that it was in the choir’s tradition to perform for presidents of both parties “and is not an implied support of party affiliations or politics.”
Several big-name artists, including Elton John and Celine Dion, have reportedly refused to participate in the inauguration celebrations. Earlier this week, Trump sent out a tweet claiming celebrities “are all wanting tixs to the inauguration.”