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Met Opera Dismantles Its Ballet Troupe

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According to the New York Times article, the eight remaining dancers in the Metropolitan Opera ballet have agreed to severance buyouts, which include cash and two years on the medical and dental plans. (After that, they should be eligible for COBRA.)

From now on the Met will hire dancers for each production they're needed. I don't see any reason to think they'll reduce the number of dancers they use.

One of the reasons cited by Peter Gelb is that outside choreographers want to bring their own dancers (like Mark Morris) or hire dancers in their own styles.

One thing I found curious: it says that the Royal Opera House, Paris Opera, and La Scala have troupes that present their own ballet evenings. Do Royal Ballet and Paris Opera Ballet perform in Royal Opera and Paris Opera performances as a rule? Do RB and POB divvy up the dancers between ballet and opera performances? I thought only La Scala did.

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Wasn't Griff Braun, formerly of ABT, part of the Met Opera ballet company? Did he previously leave or is he on the buyout list?

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I'm sad to hear this -- over the years, several friends performed with the Met ensemble.

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good grief, they used to go on their own tours.. sad indeed.

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From now on the Met will hire dancers for each production they're needed. I don't see any reason to think they'll reduce the number of dancers they use.

It may not reduce the number of dancers used in productions, but now the dancers will be independent contractors without the Met having to pay them any benefits. Also, I've noticed in general a reduction of the number of professional dancers used in productions. In the new-ish production of Carmen, the singers do a flamenco style dance. (The old Carmen production used two professional dancers performing a flamenco dance.) Also, in the old Met production of Traviata (at Flora's party) there were professional dancers The new production of Traviata does not use dancers.

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I heard a lecture-demo with Emery LeCrone last year and she mentioned that she had a "day job" at the Metropolitan Opera Ballet -- very important, she said, not only because it gave her a steady income, but also health benefits. It supported her while she tried to make her name as a choreographer. Those issues were discussed in this profile in Pointe magazine last year:

http://www.pointemagazine.com/issues/junejuly-2012/company-life-choreographing-corps

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It may not reduce the number of dancers used in productions, but now the dancers will be independent contractors without the Met having to pay them any benefits.

That is true, but so are the singers.

The ballet may have been a key element in the 19th century, but through the post-war 20th and 21st, many of the built-in ballets have been cut from productions. Is it an opera company's responsibility to keep a staff troupe with full benefits, when ballet isn't an integral part of modern operas or modern opera productions, which the Met is doing more of? As much as I'd like to see employed dancers, I don't think they should, nor do I think the Met should make dance a priority in how it spends its money.

Also, I've noticed in general a reduction of the number of professional dancers used in productions. In the new-ish production of Carmen, the singers do a flamenco style dance. (The old Carmen production used two professional dancers performing a flamenco dance.) Also, in the old Met production of Traviata (at Flora's party) there were professional dancers The new production of Traviata does not use dancers.

The "new" production of "La Traviata" was an import of an important, much-talked-about production from the Salzburg Festival in which the inclusion of professional dancers would have been moot. I don't think the Met should base its choice of productions on whether there are dancers in them.

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One of the reasons cited by Peter Gelb is that outside choreographers want to bring their own dancers (like Mark Morris) or hire dancers in their own styles.

It may not reduce the number of dancers used in productions, but now the dancers will be independent contractors without the Met having to pay them any benefits.

A pity for the dancers, but we don't know if the Met's decision was driven by financial or artistic considerations.

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Yes the Salzburg Traviata was imported to the Met. It was a win-win for the Met on the issue of cost, because it has no dancers, and the sets and costume costs were minimal (cheap looking production, set consisting of a couch and a circular white wall, Traviata's wardrobe consists of a modest red dress and a bathrobe.).

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I somehow doubt the Salzburg "Traviata" was less expensive than re-staging the Zefferelli the Met already owned because of the salaries of the professional dancers. I may be getting the production backwards, but didn't guests Nichols and Woetzel do the central Pas de Deux in the old production under Volpe and not the troupe members?

Of course, troupe dancers fill in where having beautiful movers enhances a production without doing much dancing, like in "Francesca da Rimini" and "Parsifal."

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One of the reasons cited by Peter Gelb is that outside choreographers want to bring their own dancers (like Mark Morris) or hire dancers in their own styles.

It may not reduce the number of dancers used in productions, but now the dancers will be independent contractors without the Met having to pay them any benefits.

A pity for the dancers, but we don't know if the Met's decision was driven by financial or artistic considerations.

When people get laid off or bought out the bottom line is always the bottom line. This is a way to save a little money at no great obvious artistic or PR cost to the company. He probably saw them as deadweight that no one will miss. His explanation sounds plausible enough but it's also true that he was dealing with people who had few weapons with which to fight. Easy pickings.

Of course, the Met ballet company is not what it was and this ending just reflects that reality. One wonders if it might have been different, but perhaps not.

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