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Rockettes' owners say attendance at inauguration is a choice

Associated Press logo Associated Press 12/23/2016 By MARK KENNEDY, AP Entertainment Writer
FILE - In this Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, file photo, the Rockettes perform before the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in New York. The Radio City Rockettes have been assigned to dance at President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration January 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File) © The Associated Press FILE - In this Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, file photo, the Rockettes perform before the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in New York. The Radio City Rockettes have been assigned to dance at President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration January 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — The Radio City Rockettes will be dancing at President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration next month but not everyone is kicking up their heels at the booking.

One of the famed dancers took to Instagram to say she was "embarrassed and disappointed" by the gig, triggering calls for a boycott by some on social media. Critics have posted the phone numbers of the dancers' union and the Rockette's employer to urge complaints.

But Madison Square Garden Company, which employs the dancers, said Friday no dancers are being compelled to attend the event.

"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."

Many on social media believed attendance was mandatory, including Julissa Sabino, a performer who is part of the union, who tweeted that the issue "breaks my heart" and urged supporters to "help these ladies." Autumn Withers, a former Rockette, supported a boycott, saying "take a knee, ladies!"

The American Guild of Variety Artists, which represents the Rockettes, has not publicly responded.

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 Rockettes who choose to attend will join The Mormon Tabernacle Choir at the swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 20. Earlier this month, Trump's inaugural committee announced that "America's Got Talent" star Jackie Evancho will be singing the national anthem at the ceremony.

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Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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