NEW YORK • Within hours of confirming plans to appear at the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, the Radio City Rockettes were plunged into a maelstrom of social media outrage amid reports that the performers were contractually obligated to dance at the ceremony or lose their jobs.
But as last Friday wore on, Madison Square Garden, which manages the Rockettes, and the American Guild of Variety Artists, the dancers' union, said that any of the dancers could opt out of the Jan 20 performance in Washington.
The statement followed reports that a Rockette was "embarrassed and disappointed" that the decision to perform had been made for her.
The dancer, Ms Phoebe Pearl, expressed her views in a private Instagram post and did not respond to multiple requests for comment last Friday. Her fellow performers did not respond either.
Not long after those reports, a statement relayed through Ms Mikyl Cordova, a spokesman for the Madison Square Garden, said that dancers' appearances are voluntary.
The statement said: "For a Rockette to be considered for an event, they must voluntarily sign up and they are never told they have to perform at a particular event, including the inaugural. It is always their choice."
The statement added that, among the dancers, Mr Trump's inauguration has been a popular event. "In fact, for the coming inauguration, we had more Rockettes request to participate than we have slots available. We eagerly await the inaugural celebrations."
The idea that Rockettes could be forced to perform prompted anger on Twitter among actors, performers and other celebrities, who began circulating contact information for Madison Square Garden, the Rockettes' producers and their union.