Retired Irish dance legend Michael Flatley is set to perform at Donald Trump’s inauguration festivities in Washington, according to reports.
The Lord Of The Dance supremo has agreed to perform at the Liberty Ball on Friday night (Jan 20), hours after Trump is sworn in as US president, celebrity news site TMZ said on Thursday.
Flatley, a Chicago native, retired from dancing in March 2016, citing the toll it had taken on his body, including a damaged left knee, two ruptured achilles tendons and a fractured rib.
At the inauguration ball he will “set the scene for his dance troupe”, who will do most of the performance, according to the Irish Times.
Flatley created Riverdance in 1994, bringing Irish-style dancing to a mainstream audience. At the peak of his fame in the 1990s, he set a record by performing 21 consecutive shows at Wembley Arena in London – a record that has yet to be defeated, said the Guardian. He is also a celebrated flautist.
He joins country artist Toby Keith, southern rock band 3 Doors Down and singer Jackie Evancho as the top-billed artists scheduled to perform at official inauguration events.
Artists have been reluctant to participate in the festivities, with more A-listers tied to inauguration protests than Trump-sanctioned events.
Talent bookers told multiple publications that Trump’s inaugural committee was “a little bit desperate” to find artists to perform – as people across the political spectrum declined to be a part of the event out of concerns about the “media circus” surrounding the event, according to Rolling Stone.
Flatley, 58, has come under fire for his decision.
But the agreement to perform at the inauguration is not ironclad, the Guardian said.
Bruce Springsteen cover band the B Street Band cancelled their scheduled appearance at a Thursday night inauguration gala because of their “gratitude” and “respect” for Springsteen, who has called Trump a “moron”.
And Broadway star Jennifer Holliday cancelled her inauguration appearance one day after Trump’s team announced she would be performing at an official concert on Thursday.
Holliday, a Grammy and Tony award winner, said she had “a lapse of judgment” when she initially agreed to perform.