The Radio City Rockettes will be performing at President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration, but its members will not be forced to do so, the dancers' employer says.
Madison Square Garden Company said that the dance group would participate in inauguration festivities next month.
The announcement prompted some, including one of the dancers, to voice their concerns on social media. Phoebe Pearl said in a now-deleted Instagram post that she's "embarrassed and disappointed" by the gig, according to media reports.
Critics have posted the phone numbers of the dancers' union and the Rockettes' employer online to urge complaints, the Associated Press reported. Believing that participation was mandatory, Julissa Sabino, a performer who is part of the union, tweeted that the issue "breaks my heart".
Autumn Withers, a former Rockette, supported a boycott, saying "take a knee, ladies!" in a tweet.
Madison Square Garden said that no dancers are being compelled to participate.
"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," the company said. "It is always their choice. In fact, for the coming inauguration, we had more Rockettes request to participate than we have slots available."
The American Guild of Variety Artists, the union representing the dancers, echoed the company in a statement posted on its Facebook page.
The announcement "has brought up legitimate concern among our members, the theatrical community and the public at large", the union said, adding later: "Fortunately, the company has agreed that ALL participation in this particular event will be voluntary. We are greatly relieved and hope to work with our members to inform them and alleviate the anxiety and fears that this has caused."
A small group of Rockettes are contractually obligated to perform at scheduled events throughout the year. But Radio City has agreed that performing at the inauguration will be voluntary for year-round Rockettes, the union said. The Rockettes, who have performed at Radio City Music Hall since the 1930s, have previously appeared in Super Bowl halftime shows, Macy's Thanksgiving Day parades and George W. Bush's inaugurations in 2001 and 2005.
The dancers who choose to attend will join the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at the swearing-in ceremony on January 20. America's Got Talent star Jackie Evancho has already been penned in to sing the national anthem at the ceremony.
In a tweet, Trump responded to reports that celebrities have turned down gigs to perform at his inauguration. "The so-called 'A' list celebrities are all wanting tixs to the inauguration, but look what they did for Hillary," Trump wrote. "NOTHING. I want the PEOPLE!".