Jump to content


Labor Pains at TWB


  • Please log in to reply
84 replies to this topic

#61 Leigh Witchel

Leigh Witchel

    Editorial Advisor

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,466 posts

Posted 31 January 2006 - 11:52 AM

This is happening everywhere now. From the management side, it's one of the few ways a regional company can still manage the high labor costs of a corps de ballet needed for the full length repertory and stay in budget, but from the labor side it's practically slave labor. Companies have instituted a tiered structure and in some places there are two or three tiers of unpaid and paid trainee and apprentice positions before you come close to being a company member.

In other places, the apprenticeship is a mill with many more apprentices accepted than could possibly ever be absorbed into a company. In theory, an apprentice program should be offering dancers on the cusp of professional contracts further training and grooming and then future employment. If the program doesn't include this extra training and schooling, the only thing an apprentice is getting is to be treated like a company member except at reduced pay. It's not fair to anyone.

#62 Golden Gate

Golden Gate

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 42 posts

Posted 31 January 2006 - 01:11 PM

Are Artist I's part of the school and not the company?



No, they are company dancers. That particular one is very good, but it was a surprise still. CB doesn't cast non-company dancers in anything other than very small/nominal roles.

#63 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,008 posts

Posted 31 January 2006 - 01:17 PM

Are Artist I's part of the school and not the company?


No, they are company dancers. That particular one is very good, but it was a surprise still. CB doesn't cast non-company dancers in anything other than very small/nominal roles.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The contract issue being discussed above is the use of free or nominally paid students, either in lieu of or to supplement company dancers from the Washington Ballet, instead of expanding the roster or choosing repertory that doesn't require extensive use of students in multiple productions.

Casting from within a company is usually entirely at the discretion of Management (usually the Artistic Director or someone to whom s/he delegates the responsibility), unless guest choreographers or stagers are given casting rights. It isn't part of the general contract with the dancers, although a Principal dancer or a Guest Artist may have an individual contract with a company to guarantee specific roles or limiting appearances to major roles.

#64 carbro

carbro

    Late Board Registrar

  • Rest in Peace
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6,361 posts

Posted 31 January 2006 - 02:21 PM

We all raised our eyebrows when one of the dancers in our Artist I company (three levels down from a principal) was cast (albeit 3rd cast, but still...) in a the roll of Princess Aurora in the fall production of Sleeping Beauty, but that is the first time I've seen unusual casting here... hadn't occurred to me that it might happen elsewhere, and I applaud the dancers who are trying to make sure it doesn't continue. 

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

This sounds very much like the situation at NYCB a few weeks ago. Sara Mearns, who had been in the corps de ballet for a year and a half, was given the lead in the full-length Swan Lake. This was especially surprising, because prior to the Swan Lake run, she had never danced even a soloist role (the first such occurring a few days before her Odette/Odile debut). It happens from time to time in all companies, a relatively inexperienced corps dancer thrown suddenly into a principal role, but this Swan Lake was the most extreme in my thirty-plus years' experience.

As you can see, starting here, many people familiar with the company had their doubts. And the outcome, according to some of our members, begins here.

Other examples at NYCB were Alexandra Ansanelli dancing Dewdrop in Nutcracker during her first season with the company, Nichol Hlinka dancing Columbine in Harlequinade during her first. In other words, while the situation at Colorado Ballet is highly unusual, it is not unique.

I believe those roles are prestigious and must be earned through hard work and determination over a period of time... not given politically/for financial benefit to the company. 

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yes, there's usually at least one obvious candidate being passed over. Such are the whims of the ballet casting gods, alas!

#65 paolo

paolo

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 44 posts

Posted 06 February 2006 - 03:40 AM

Back to the labor issue.

Jason Palmquist was quoted in mid-December as saying that Washington Ballet could not negotiate with the union because their attorney was not available! Are you kidding me? Then get another attorney. What BS. And to cancel Nutcracker, rather than hammering out an interim agreement, is just stupid. It's an INTERIM agreement. Can't Kennedy Cener sue them of something for cancelling their Feb. na dmRach performances.

This is just the latest in the series of actions reflecting the absolute inability of WB to deal with the union. There was the cancelled trip to Italy because of the inability to reach agreement with the union over the per diem, causing internatiional embarassment. And, if they are cancelling the JOyce appearnce, they are just idiots.

It's now almost two months later and still no agreement. Sit down and work out a damned agreement! Compromise. There are some very good dancers at WB and they are being screwed. Webre has indeed raised the level of subscribers but I hope he is booed off the stage when he does his egotistical pronouncements before any future performances.

There is something very wrong at WB. This needs to be fixed and that obviously involves people sitting down and really working out a contract and probably involves the depatures of one or more of Webre, Palmquist and/or Kendall. Or, how about Suzanne Farrell takes over, or Susan Jaffe?

#66 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 06 February 2006 - 07:11 AM

There is something very wrong at WB.

Indeed.

I notice, by the way, that the company website -- washingtonballet.org -- is now offline. I don't suppose they'd have much to tell the general public right now, but -- nevertheless -- it's a sad symbol of some sort of management disarray.

#67 vagansmom

vagansmom

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 543 posts

Posted 08 February 2006 - 10:33 AM

Bart, I believe it was offline only to update it about the very sad news of Rebecca's Wright's passing. The website is up and running now.

#68 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 08 February 2006 - 01:35 PM

Thanks, vagansmom, for the update and correction.

#69 dazedandconfused

dazedandconfused

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 23 posts

Posted 08 February 2006 - 02:14 PM

I'd like to thank you, too, vagansmom! Things loom a bit large sometimes for those of us who don't have a lot of experience to put things in perspective, (which would be me). :thanks:

#70 Mike Gunther

Mike Gunther

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 129 posts

Posted 14 February 2006 - 07:54 PM

Back to the labor issue.

Jason Palmquist was quoted in mid-December as saying that Washington Ballet could not negotiate with the union because their attorney was not available!  Are you kidding me?  ...
This is just the latest in the series of actions reflecting the absolute inability of WB to deal with the union.... 
There is something very wrong at WB... 

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Right on, Paolo! Nobody's talking right now... that's the problem. Unbelievably, the WB just now sent a "tea event" letter to its patrons (including moi). Like, we're all going to drink Lipshang Sulong when we don't even know if we still have a company here in DC! Honest, they should make this into a movie. My sympathies are all with the dancers...

#71 koshka

koshka

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 256 posts

Posted 15 February 2006 - 05:03 AM

You got a tea event invite? I got a wine tasting invite! (Soooooo not my taste).

But I'm with you--<teen inflection>as if </teen inflection> I'd go at this point...

#72 beck_hen

beck_hen

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 128 posts

Posted 15 February 2006 - 06:53 AM

Mike Gunther and koshka, maybe it would be positive to attend, find out what's happening, and express your concerns. Or if you don't want to contribute financially in this situation, you could send an RSVP that explains your reasons for missing the event, and your support for the dancers.

#73 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 15 February 2006 - 08:26 AM

Yes, I hope you'll both find a way to give the company your input. My limited experience with smaller and mid-sized companies is that they often don't have a clue about what their regular patrons are thinking -- until after ticket sales decline.

#74 Brioche

Brioche

    Inactive Member

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 176 posts

Posted 15 February 2006 - 03:59 PM

Any update on where this all stands?

#75 Mel Johnson

Mel Johnson

    Diamonds Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,311 posts

Posted 15 February 2006 - 04:43 PM

The statement that "nobody is talking" is simply not true. Both sides are talking, and refraining from making public statements to the press which have so far, been self-injurious to the arguments of each, in my opinion.


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):