Over the last 48 hours or so, iconic American dance troupe the Radio City Rockettes have found themselves at the centre of a social media storm, after it was announced on Thursday they’d be performing at Donald Trump‘s inauguration.

It started when a current Rockette wrote, in a since-deleted private Instagram post, that “finding out that it has been decided for us that Rockettes will be performing at the Presidential inauguration makes me feel embarrassed and disappointed. 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”

The post was initially published by PerezHilton.com, but was quoted on news websites across the board.

People took to social media to express their outrage that these women would be forced to perform at the inauguration of someone who swims so strongly against their values – and one that several A-Listers, including KISS and Elton John, have reportedly turned down.

In response to this outrage, the Madison Square Garden Company, which manages the Rockettes, issued a a statement denying any dancers would be contractually obligated to perform against their will.

In a statement provided to the New York Times, spokeswoman Mikyl Cordova said:

“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.

“In fact, for the coming inauguration, we had more Rockettes request to participate than we have slots available. We eagerly await the inaugural celebrations.”

That statement appears to contradict an email from the American Guild of Variety Artists union which was sent to some of the dancers.

“If you are full time, you are obligated. Doing the best performance to reflect an American institution which has been here for over 90 years is your job. I hope this pulls into focus the bottom line on this work,” it said.

Since the original Instagram post, no current Rockettes have spoken about the furore. However, former dancer Heather Lang, who left the troupe in 2009, said that there’s real fear among dancers that by refusing to do the inauguration they’ll be jeopardising their future employment.

“Everybody’s in fear of losing their job,”
she told the NY Times.

All of this seems extremely not above board. But, TBH, if the dancers are forced to perform (whether overtly or covertly), then there’s really only one way to do it.

Meanwhile, Trump paused between tweeting about ramping up the USA’s stock of nuclear weapons to claim he doesn’t want any A-Listers performing, anyway.

The Beach Boys remain the one group who haven’t immediately declined an invite. To be continued.

Photo: Michael Stewart / Getty.