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NYCB Dancers Cut


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#1 harpergroup

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 10:42 AM

This article will apparently be in the Sunday NY Times, and names (in alphabetical order) Darius Barnes, Katie Bergstrom, Sophie Flack, Briana Shepherd, and Max van der Sterre.


http://www.nytimes.c...n...=1&ref=arts

#2 abatt

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 12:24 PM

Talk about bad publicity!

#3 Krystin

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 01:43 PM

I'm glad these dancers are getting some sort of recognition as they leave NYCB. It's such an accomplishment to make it to the level they did, and I'm sure they will realize that the adventure is just beginning! Good luck to all of them.

#4 Dale

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 02:11 PM

There seems to be a difference in what the company thinks the dancers want (as to the manner in which they are leaving) and what the dancers actually want. NYCB is often very hush hush about dancers' comings and goings. We've talked about the pitfalls of announcing things too soon. But from this article and the one in TONY, there's also a sense of wanting, on the dancers' part, to not just disappear from the roster. There were dancers who chose not to take part in this article and appear to not want their names released. As one of the dancers who did participate (and as many people who have been let go know), there's a feeling of inadequacy lingering. I understand the feeling of wanting to slip away. On the other hand, NYCB (and ABT, recently in the case of Tuttle) often just make a big deal of a final performance only if it's a principal dancer retiring. Now I don't think everybody deserves the balloons and flowers routine, but it could be announced earlier. The first one I saw like that was when Miranda Weese left. I would like there to be more transparency, so at least the audience can honor them in a way. But I understand some of the reasons why there isn't.

#5 canbelto

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 02:37 PM

This article makes me sad to read. I realize that behind every ballet company is a lot of politics, competitiveness, and even heartbreak, but somehow I feel that there was a better way Peter Martins could have handled the economic crisis. The fact that he is not alone in laying off artists (MCB recently did the same) doesn't make the pain the dancers feel any less sad. :(
I got the same feeling when I read that after all the years of service to the Royal Ballet, Margot Fonteyn was never awarded even a meager pension.

#6 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 03:48 PM

I can't stand the double standard of the use of the "letting go" phrase when it's obvious they're just looking to mask the sour flavor of a an unconfortable situation like that. I "let" you go if you ASK me to let go...but if not-(which is the case here)-...c'mon, let's be brave and use the real words..."I'm FIRING you..!" :(

#7 dirac

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 04:18 PM

I can't stand the double standard of the use of the "letting go" phrase when it's obvious they're just looking to mask the sour flavor of a an unconfortable situation like that. I "let" you go if you ASK me to let go...but if not-(which is the case here)-...c'mon, let's be brave and use the real words..."I'm FIRING you..!"


You’d say “You’re fired” directly only as a way of being deliberately harsh to an employee who’s being dismissed under very unpleasant circumstances. The use of euphemisms can be an attempt at kindness as well as a self-interested effort to defuse a fraught situation.

But from this article and the one in TONY, there's also a sense of wanting, on the dancers' part, to not just disappear from the roster.


I understand that, certainly. But all over the country people are getting tossed out of their workplaces far more unceremoniously. Some of them are older people who will have a much harder time than these dancers in their efforts to rebuild their personal and professional lives. The dismissed dancers are receiving high level media attention, if they want it, and people seem to be reaching out to help and sympathize. Many are not so fortunate.

#8 bart

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 04:35 PM

Maybe the situation at the Metropolitan Museum can be used for comparison. According to this week's New Yorker,
the Metropolitan's staff has been reduced by 357, to fewer than 2,200 employees. Nothing comparable has happened since 1972. Has this been a story in NYC?

#9 SanderO

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 04:43 PM

They could sell a painting or two and keep their staff employed. That's what they SHOULD do, because the art is not going anywhere, by 357 people without an income means a lot of pain NOW.

#10 carbro

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 05:25 PM

I can't stand the double standard of the use of the "letting go" phrase when it's obvious they're just looking to mask the sour flavor of a an unconfortable situation like that. I "let" you go if you ASK me to let go...but if not-(which is the case here)-...c'mon, let's be brave and use the real words..."I'm FIRING you..!" :(

It's idiomatic. "Let" does not necessarily mean "allow" or "permit."

Since technically these are non-renewals of contracts, "let go", as a synonym for "release" seems perfectly appropriate to me, even though it does minimize the harshness of the event.

#11 abatt

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 05:34 PM

These dancers were not fired. Their contracts were simply not renewed upon the expiration of the contract term. I'm surprised that City Ballet didn't renew the contracts of people who haven't been there for long. Whereas someone who has been with the Company for 8 or 9 years should probably have been able to read the handwriting on the wall, I don't think someone who has been employed only a year or two (and is only 20 years old or younger) would necessarily have any idea that he would be out of a job so soon. Shame on NYCB!

#12 LiLing

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 06:03 PM

I understand that, certainly. But all over the country people are getting tossed out of their workplaces far more unceremoniously. Some of them are older people who will have a much harder time than these dancers in their efforts to rebuild their personal and professional lives. The dismissed dancers are receiving high level media attention, if they want it, and people seem to be reaching out to help and sympathize. Many are not so fortunate.


Of course it is difficult for anyone to lose a job, and in the current economy it can be devastating, but I think the issues for the dancers are a bit different. The dancers aren't expressing the fears I hear from my friends who have lost jobs, i.e. financial fears, finding another job before their unemployment runs out, loss of health insurance etc. They are grieving the loss of the thing that gave focus and meaning to their lives.

From the Times article:

The emotions are especially acute because, more than many other workers, ballet dancers define themselves and their self-worth by their profession. Losing a job is like losing one’s identity.

Sophie Flack, “It was the end of the life I knew since I was a little girl.”

#13 bart

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 06:11 PM

Since technically these are non-renewals of contracts, "let go", as a synonym for "release" seems perfectly appropriate to me, even though it does minimize the harshness of the event.

This has become idiomatic, I agree. But this descriptive phrase is still a euphemism. We learn a lot about the value system of a society by the way it chooses to describe unpleasant things.

Imagine, for example, that I am holding you by with hands to keep you from falling off a high balcony. I may prefer to see this as "letting [you] go." But you fall nonetheless.


No matter what you think about the specific situation, or the underlying economics, it IS interesting that this phrase has become so deeply a part of the way we use our language. I wonder when it began. Is it used in Britain and English-speaking countries -- or only in the U.S.?

#14 abatt

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 06:20 PM

They could sell a painting or two and keep their staff employed. That's what they SHOULD do, because the art is not going anywhere, by 357 people without an income means a lot of pain NOW.



I think that the museum has the opposite viewpoint. Great artwork is unique, whereas human capital is not. They can always hire more people in the future when the economy improves, but they will probably not have the opportunity to re-purchase certain artwork if it is sold off.

#15 DeborahB

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 06:47 PM

Here's another story about NYCB cuts on the NYT's ArtsBeat blog. The comments are pretty interesting.

http://artsbeat.blog...mployed-dancer/

Also, Bart -- in England (or at least in London) the euphemism is being made "redundant." I don't think I've ever heard anyone there (I'm in London a few times a year) say "fired." So maybe it's not a euphemism, but what they say instead of "fired?" (or "let go" etc.).


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