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NYCB Dancers Cut

102 posts in this topic

Talk about bad publicity!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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..!" :(

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.”

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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.?

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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.

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

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/...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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They are grieving the loss of the thing that gave focus and meaning to their lives.

Dancers are dedicated people, but they are not the only ones who feel a special bond to their work. They are also privileged in that not only do they love what they do but they can earn money doing it, which is rare in the working world. I understand that’s a tough thing to lose.

But many people who have been laid off, even those who don’t love their work as dancers do, often feel the same way – their work gave them a focus and meaning that vanishes when they are unemployed. When workers who’ve spent decades at one firm get fired, it’s like losing a part of themselves. They feel the same feelings described by the dancers in the NYT article, often accentuated by concerns about such matters as health insurance coverage. Marriages break down. People fall into severe depressions. I'm sorry that Ms. Flack lost her childhood dream. Other people are living in tent cities.

I know the fact that other people are worse off doesn't help much when you're the one in pain, and that's perfectly understandable. I don't think that we as observers should lose sight of the big picture, though.

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

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/...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.).

Redundancy in UK law is not a euphemism for dismissal, (although you could argue that it merely serves to obfuscate).

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The use of euphemisms can be(…) a self-interested effort to defuse a fraught situation.

.

Agree. “Self-interest”…One side of the dialogue…(or maybe a monologue…?). Yes, it does sounds indeed as the perfect explanation, but I have to wonder…Did the effort succeeded in "defusing" the whole thing…? That would be a question for the dancer being “let go”.

"let go"(…) does minimize the harshness of the event.

Again...questionable…did both sides of the meeting agreed that the phrase “minimized” the harshness…?

These dancers were not fired. Their contracts were simply not renewed upon the expiration of the contract term.

Every time a contract is renewed it sounds like a re-hiring situation to me, whereas every time one is called upon the boss office to be notified that “We can’t afford to keep you here”…well, it can’t be more explicit.

We learn a lot about the value system of a society by the way it chooses to describe unpleasant things.

That is very true. I remember another thread in which something similar was being discussed. Well, I’ll repeat myself now…I’ll never get use to the “Thank you but not thank you and thank you” stuff or the “sorry-excuse-me-thank-you-very-much” formula repeated thousand times with no real meadning. I don’t appreciate it, I don’t believe on it and I truly think I’m being very disrespected if being played that evil wordy game.

Shame on NYCB!

Yes, shame on them!!

P.S-I confess to be biased in this whole thing, as I’ve been in this same situation before, and for which the only truly thing I wanted at that moment was to jump on top of the person playing the wordy game to scream “Shut up with your nicey/nice stuff…give me my termination notice and let me get out of here already ..!!”

:(

P.S 2- Oops, I hope to still be within the limits of the "Agree to disagree"... :beg:

P.S 3- Edited to add...I found the thread that I was referring earlier...for some reason it sounds VERY close to the "nicey-nice" wording subject. Post # 64... :)

http://ballettalk.invisionzone.com/index.p...st&p=236410

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I think it was a horrific idea for The New York Times to ask readers for unsolicited advice for these dancers.

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

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/...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.).

Redundancy in UK law is not a euphemism for dismissal, (although you could argue that it merely serves to obfuscate).

I hadn't heard this, but being made 'redundant' sounds very searing, much like 'homo sacer', the person become worthless, as Palestinians are often described in Israel or Jews were in the Holocaust by such writers as Giorgio Agamben. Maybe the British don't mean it in the full way it sounds, but that sounds like not just losing a job, but being 'made worthless' (and not just losing a salary or wage.) But then that's not necessarily so, because British English is not the same as American English in many ways, and therefore it's unlikely that it's meant cruelly. It has a quaint sound to us, which is like when I first heard 'ex-directory'.

I've been 'laid off' before, and don't care if it's called that. It's not exactly the same thing as being 'fired', because I've been 'fired' too, and I know the difference! Some of those times were very painful, so it's really the pain experienced and the attendant sense of helplessness, even if temporary, more than any serious upset at the terms or idioms used. You're just upset and angry, and getting annoyed at terminology naturally comes into play as well. One time I asked a supervisor 'Am I getting fired'? and she said 'Possibly.' Looking back, I find that a most amusing answer, but it was only a temp job. When there was more at stake, I really didn't ever care what it was called, the net result was the same thing.

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I think it was a horrific idea for The New York Times to ask readers for unsolicited advice for these dancers.

Agreed!

It was set up to get a lot of comments, of course (and it has), but it just seems wrong. Afterall, who are we to give

unsolicited advice to young dancers who have to figure out what to do next? That's what friends, family, colleagues, and professional counselors are for -- not strangers.

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I really didn't ever care what it was called, the net result was the same thing.

That's true...

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The dancers can choose whether or not to read the comments on the NY Times blog. If they read the blog comments, they can choose to accept or reject any advice offered in the blog. I don't really see the down side of having the blog. Maybe some good can come of it if a good idea pops up in one of the comments. Maybe some generous NY Time blogger might be able to connect an unemployed dancer with a job interview.

Edit to add: It is particularly disturbing that young people like Darius Barnes are being tossed out, while Nilas Martins is still in his job. Sorry to anger all you Nilas fans on Ballet Talk.

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Again...questionable…did both sides of the meeting agreed that the phrase “minimized” the harshness…?

There is no pleasing many people who get the boot, for obvious reasons.

Sorry to anger all you Nilas fans on Ballet Talk.

There are Nilas fans on Ballet Talk? :)

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Every time a contract is renewed it sounds like a re-hiring situation to me, whereas every time one is called upon the boss office to be notified that “We can’t afford to keep you here”…well, it can’t be more explicit.

http://ballettalk.invisionzone.com/index.p...st&p=236410

I would have a hard time hearing "We can't afford to keep you" from a man who earned $686,000 according to 2007 public non-profit records.

And I agree that it was a horrific idea for the NY Times to ask for advice for these dancers.

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