Madison Square Garden Company and the American Guild of Variety Artists have dispelled beliefs that the Rockettes will be performing at Trump's inauguration against their will. Upon finding out the group would be dancing at the event, Rockette Phoebe Pearl wrote in a since-deleted Instagram post, "I usually don’t use social media to make a political stand but I feel overwhelmed with emotion," according to Variety. "Finding out that it has been decided for us that Rockettes will be performing at the Presidential inauguration makes me feel embarrassed and disappointed," she wrote. "The women I work with are intelligent and are full of love and the decision of performing for a man that stands for everything we’re against is appalling. I am speaking for just myself but please know that after we found out this news, we have been performing with tears in our eyes and heavy hearts. We will not be forced! #notmypresident." Then, the Rockettes received an email from a leader of the American Guild of Variety Artists, their union, informing them that "any talk of boycotting this event is invalid" and full-time workers had no choice. "It is a job, and all of you should consider it an honor, no matter who is being sworn in. The election is over and this country will not survive if it remains divided. Everyone is entitled to her own political beliefs, but there is no room for this in the workplace," it read, according to BroadwayWorld. "Doing the best performance to reflect an American Institution which has been here for over 90 years is your job." But according to a statement posted on Facebook, the union has met with Radio City and changed its policy. "Fortunately, the Company has agreed that all participation in this particular event will be voluntary," they said. "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 Madison Square Garden Company issued a statement claiming that the Rockette performance was in fact never obligatory. "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," it says. "It is always their choice. In fact, for the coming inauguration, we had more Rockettes request to participate than we have slots available. We eagerly await the inaugural celebrations."