Rockettes’ owners say attendance at inauguration is a choice

rockettes

NEW YORK (AP) — The Radio City Rockettes will be dancing at President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration next month, but not everyone is kicking up their heels at the booking.

One of the famed dancers took to Instagram to say she was “embarrassed and disappointed” by the gig, triggering calls for a boycott by some on social media. Critics have posted the phone numbers of the dancers’ union and the Rockettes’ employer to urge complaints.

But Madison Square Garden Co., which employs the dancers, said Friday no dancers are being compelled to attend the event.

“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 company 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.”

Many on social media believed attendance was mandatory, including Julissa Sabino, a performer who is part of the union, who tweeted that the issue “breaks my heart” and urged supporters to “help these ladies.” Autumn Withers, a former Rockette, supported a boycott, saying “take a knee, ladies!”

The American Guild of Variety Artists, which represents the Rockettes, has not publicly responded. Many Rockettes — there are 80 women employed for the Christmas show, split into two casts — are employed year-round and also appear in a summer show that debuted this year.

The Rockettes, who have performed at Radio City Music Hall since the 1930s, have previously appeared in Super Bowl halftime shows, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parades and George W. Bush’s inaugurations in 2001 and 2005.

The dancers who choose to attend will join The Mormon Tabernacle Choir at the swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 20. Earlier this month, Trump’s inaugural committee announced that “America’s Got Talent” star Jackie Evancho will be singing the national anthem at the ceremony.

The presence of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which has performed at several past inaugurations, hasn’t been met with universal applause.

Former choir member John Bonner, for one, said he was shocked and upset when he heard the news.

“I expect the church to stand on their moral high ground,” Bonner told KUTV in Salt Lake City. An online petition calls on the group to re-consider.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints acknowledged that the response to the announcement has been mixed, though church spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a statement that the appearance is a demonstration of support for the office rather than party affiliations or politics.

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Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwit

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