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Labor Pains at TWB


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84 replies to this topic

#31 Dale

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 09:51 AM

The Washinton Ballet was to have performed from March 21-26, 2006 at the Joyce Theater in New York, but there's now an announcement on the Joyce website saying the visit has been cancelled.

#32 Bill

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 10:38 AM

I believe that talks between the union and the Ballet were to resume today. Attached is a link to a picture of the dancers with their signs, from December when they picketed.

http://www.musicalar...rg/HomePage.htm

#33 bart

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 11:45 AM

A GREAT-looking bunch of picketers, despite the cold. Thanks for the photo and the Link, Bill.

#34 Juliet

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 02:26 PM

I am glad to read the interim agreement that was proposed to TWB management by the dancers.

Such a horrible situation.

#35 BW

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Posted 07 January 2006 - 07:36 AM

On NPR on Weekend Edition - Saturday, with Scott Simon, there was a piece about what's been going on at TWB. It was quite well done. If you missed it, you should be able to access it via the website at about 1:00PM. NPR's Weekend Edition - Saturday

#36 bart

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Posted 07 January 2006 - 08:13 AM

Mme. Hermine includes a LINK to a Washington Post story today. Apparantly the company has rejected Michael Kaiser's offer to help mediate the crisis. The union had supported this offer.

http://www.washingto...6010602036.html

#37 Juliet

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Posted 07 January 2006 - 02:57 PM

The dancers are evidently without unemployment benefits, too.

Wonder if Palmquist would have been so quick to reject Michael Kaiser's offer to help ("it's too soon to mediate") if he had been denied benefits. I wonder just what he deems sufficient time. This gets worse and worse......

#38 leibling

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Posted 07 January 2006 - 04:05 PM

I know this is a late response, but someone had asked if the interim contract represented industry standards, as far as rehearsal hours, etc., and I can tell you that it does. In fact, it is much the same as other AGMA contracts. You can read the contracts that are currently being negotiated on-line at the AGMA websites- I think it is musicalartists.org. Click on agreements, and then choose dance.

#39 Mel Johnson

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Posted 07 January 2006 - 04:53 PM

That's right, and also bear in mind that both sides are making self-serving statements to the press right now.

We won't start to get anywhere near the whole truth on this unpleasant matter until one or both sides go to law, witnesses are sworn and testify and are cross-examined. And maybe not then.

I am trying to maintain a rigorous impartiality in this matter, and believe that something foul is going on, but I'm not certain where it is, or even what, or within whom it lies.

#40 Amy Reusch

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Posted 07 January 2006 - 09:20 PM

What I'm not clear on is the bit about the 3 year contracts. That's a standard now? I was under the impression that generally contracts were reviewed every year... so that letters of intent went out before the audition season...

It seems like the shelf life a dancer is so short that 3 year contracts might not work well for a company without a secure endowment (as I assume most ballet companies in this country are).

And then I started wondering about Europe where presumably things are more stable. How does job security work at the Paris Opera?

How does it work for professional ball players... presumably they have a short career span (compared to say insurance brokers) as well... but then again, there's that business about trading players... haven't figured out how that might play out in the dance world...

#41 Mel Johnson

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Posted 07 January 2006 - 11:50 PM

A three-year contract is a general contract of the company with the union. Individual contracts are hammered out annually with the individual artists. The Paris Opera Ballet dancers are in a more stable labor force, Civil Service.

#42 Amy Reusch

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Posted 08 January 2006 - 10:29 AM

So at the Paris Opera, how are dancers who cease to be desirable eliminated from the line-up? Or are they allowed to remain? Or is this why there is the mandatory retirement age there?

#43 Tammy Spadina

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 01:16 PM

NPR aired a comprehensive story on Wash Ballet's labour troubles, reported by Elizabeth Blair. The link is below. The story includes sound bites from the Board chair, the articitic director and Chip Coleman, a dancer, among others.

Performing Arts
Washington Ballet's Labor Problems Jar Dance World
by Elizabeth Blair

Weekend Edition - Saturday, January 7, 2006 Ballet companies around the country are watching a strike at the Washington Ballet with anxiety. The dancers' union feels an overly demanding work schedule is causing injuries, and union reps are pushing to organize companies around the country.

http://www.npr.org/t...storyId=5134322

#44 Estelle

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 01:39 PM

So at the Paris Opera, how are dancers who cease to be desirable eliminated from the line-up? Or are they allowed to remain? Or is this why there is the mandatory retirement age there?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Actually, it seems to me that though the POB dancers are paid by the state, they are not exactly civil servants, but I'm not sure (perhaps cygneblanc knows better ?) It is very rare that a dancer gets fired, but it can happen, I remember reading that if a dancer was considered as unable to do his/her job properly, there was some sort of commission which could fire him/her, it happened a few times. But there probably also are some dancers in the corps de ballet who are cast very seldom. (Also, besides "regular" dancers, there are a few dancers on short-term contracts, whose contract might not be renewed).

But I guess it doesn't make much sense to compare the POB, with its huge budget and state subsidies (I suspect that even if there were a few incompetent dancers, they salaries would be very very little compared to what is spent for operas...), and with the French labour laws, with companies from other countries.

#45 Amy Reusch

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Posted 10 January 2006 - 06:47 AM

Thanks, Estelle, I thought it was at the other end of the spectrum from Washington Ballet, but I was wondering whether job security could have a negative effect. It certainly doesn't seem to have at the Paris Opera, at any rate, certainly not in recent years.


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