UPDATED with AGVA statement: Members of the Radio City Rockettes who are kicking up a fuss about the company’s decision to have them perform at President-elect Trump’s inauguration next month won’t have to participate, their union says today.
Madison Square Garden Co., has “agreed that ALL participation in this particular event will be voluntary,” the American Guild of Variety Artists says in a statement.
That appears to end concerns that began yesterday when MSG Executive Chairman James Dolan confirmed the booking saying in a statement that the company is “honored that the Rockettes have again been asked to perform in the upcoming inauguration festivities” as they did in 2001 and 2005.
One dancer, Phoebe Pearl, posted an Instagram message — since deleted but captured on perezhilton.com — saying that she was “embarrassed and disappointed” by the plan.
She added that her colleagues are “full of love and the decision of performing for a man that stands for everything we’re against is appalling.” Although she was “speaking just for myself,” she added that many “have been performing with tears in our eyes and heavy hearts. We will not be forced!”
MSG said in a statement today that Rockettes “are never told they have to perform at a particular event, including the inaugural. It is always their choice.” The statement adds that for the inauguration “we had more Rockettes request to participate than we have slots available. We eagerly await the inaugural celebrations.”
But there was some confusion: AGVA told the dancers in an email that “you are all employees” and any “talk of boycotting this event is invalid.” Broadway World reports.
“If you are not full time, you do not have to sign up to do this work,” the email reportedly says. “If you are full time, you are obligated. Doing the best performance to reflect an American Institution which has been here for over 90 years is your job. I hope this pulls into focus the bottom line on this work.”
In its new statement, AGVA says that it “never ‘demanded’ that the Rockettes perform at the inauguration. A message was sent to the Rockettes last evening that stated the terms of their contract. There is a small group of year round Rockettes who are contractually obligated to perform at scheduled events throughout the year. 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 adds that it is “proud of its long history of rejecting sexism, racism, homophobia and all forms of discrimination and harassment in the workplace.”
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and America’s Got Talent‘s Jackie Evancho have agreed to perform at the inauguration.
The Beach Boys have been invited, but haven’t decided whether they will, USA Today reports.
Other stars including Celine Dion, Elton John, Garth Brooks, Andrea Bocelli and Kiss said that they will not perform.