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Highest Paid Principals

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What I find most interesting is that the top two paid dancers.....rarely perform (or get cast) in productions, and neither is considered a box office draw, in the way Osipova or Vishneva are draws:

Paloma Herrera: $190k

Julie Kent Barbee: $187k

Gillian Murphy was full time at ABT in 2011, and she earned $174k

Interesting that no male dancers made the top 3 dancer pay scale.

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Since the dancer salaries are based on a combo of seniority and level in the company (corps, soloist or principal), and the dancers are operating under union contract, it makes sense that Kent and Hererra are the highest paid. As valuable as Gomes is to the company, he did not join until 1997 and has only been a principal since 2002. If it were up to me, Gomes would be the highest paid because he is the single most valuable member of the principal team for ABT.

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Actually, if these salaries are based only on seniority and level, Kent should be earning more than Herrera (Kent joined the co earlier and has been a principal longer).

I'm surprised Ratmansky earns so much in comparison to McKenzie, and I'm also surprised that Victor Barbee, the associate AD, isn't in the highest paid list.

Anyone know who Rachel Pivnick is? Her name isn't listed on ABT's staff on their website.

Those are some pretty high raises for some folks, from 2010 to 2011.

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Is it possible that Kent took leaves-of-absence for the birth of her two children? That would slow her down on the seniority track. Also, even with union contracts, pay hikes are sometimes possible for merit, whether within rank or at the time of promotion. (I'm not familiar with the ABT contract in particular, but know it's possible with other union contracts. I.e., it's a myth that raises are possible only through seniority for people with union contracts.)

I was intrigued at the McKenzie remark in the NY Times story that the guest artists are paid at weekly rates no higher than the regular principals. In the U.S., we sometimes forget that our compensation package includes not only salary, but also health insurance and a retirement program. Those are listed separately on the 990 forms. It's possible that foreign visitors with health insurance and retirement benefits from their home company have the option of taking the value of those benefits in cash salary. I don't know how ABT handles this, but it's certainly possible.

Mr. McKenzie said that all dancers are paid by the week, not per performance, and that the company did not pay its international stars . . . any more than its highest-paid principals. “I don’t, and won’t,” he said. “That’s just a policy.”

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It's also interesting that McKenzie, unlike Millepied, totally dodged the issue of whether this whole system of relying heavily on guest artists is good for the company. The juxtaposition of their comments was illuminating. McKenzie's line: "Such is the way of the modern world!"

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It's not surprising that Paris Opera ballet does not rely on "outsiders", since the Paris Opera Ballet school is one of the most prestigious and venerable in the world. It's true ABT has various schools and junior companies, but there has never been a steady stream of world class dancers coming out the ABT schooling system. I think that, in part, explains why ABT relies on "imports", which POB does not. In addition, the POB is state funded. ABT must rely heavily on ticket sales and donations for its existence. Under the circumstances, it's not surprising that they import international stars to boost ticket sales , lure donors and increase the public media profile of the company. The "imports" like Vishneva and Cojocaru can pretty much sell out the Met. House ballerinas do not.

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Kent took two leaves-of-absences to have both of her children. But, since she was still an employee of the company, how can that slow down her seniority track and affect her salary? Is that a union thing?

I'm not familiar with the ABT contract, but with other union contracts I do know something about, a leave of absence stops the clock on accumulating seniority steps, retirement credits, etc. until you return to work.

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A school teacher's contract is likely to be different than a dancer's contract, although I've worked for companies with pensions and various stock schemes, and parental leave -- as opposed to the period defined as medical leave and possibly disability leave -- stops vesting and matching contributions, just as periods of not working affect Social Security calculations.

MacKenzie's comment about not paying anyone more than the maximum reminds me of Beverly Sills' comment that she didn't negotiate her fees: she would only take the highest fee on the scale, whatever that was.

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