The Rockettes will perform at President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration next month, the Madison Square Garden Company confirmed Thursday, but the announcement has been denounced by critics and dancers alike.
Interested in Donald Trump?Add Donald Trump as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Donald Trump news, video, and analysis from ABC News.
One current Rockette wrote in a since-deleted Instagram post that she was "embarrassed and disappointed" that the group would perform for a man who "stands for everything we're against." Others who oppose the booking have encouraged people to lodge complaints with Madison Square Garden Company, owner of the Rockettes, and the American Guild of Variety Artists, which represents the dancers.
In light of the criticism, Madison Square Garden Company told The Associated Press that the troupe's participation in the swearing-in ceremony would be voluntary.
"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 is always their choice," the Madison Square Garden Company, which owns the Rockettes, told the AP in a statement. "In fact, for the coming inauguration, we had more Rockettes request to participate than we have slots available."
The company has not returned ABC News' requests for comment.
Former Rockette Rhonda Malkin, now a professional dance coach in New York City, told ABC News that her concern was for the full-time dancers who may be required to attend due to the terms of their contract. She also noted that others, feeling pressure to be compliant employees, may agree to perform at the event even if they were personally opposed.
"I don't think anybody should be forced to do anything they don't feel comfortable doing for any reason," Malkin said. "I feel very sad and very frustrated by this situation."
The American Guild of Variety Artists told ABC News in a statement Friday that the Rockettes' announced performance "has brought up a legitimate concern among our members, the theatrical community and the public at large." The statement said there was no mandate for dancers to participate in the inauguration.
"There has also been a considerable amount of misinformation about the union’s position. The union 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," the statement read. "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 Rockettes also performed at George W. Bush's inauguration ceremonies in 2001 and 2005. In addition to the Rockettes, the Mormon Tabernacle Choice has been confirmed to perform at the inauguration on Jan. 20. "America's Got Talent" star Jackie Evancho will sing the national anthem.
Neither Trump nor his transition team have commented on the matter.