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Strike at the Ballet du Nord

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Here's a link to an article in "Le Monde" about a strike at the Ballet du Nord:


45 of the 50 people employed by the ballet du Nord

(dancers, technical and administrative staff, teachers of the dance school) have been on strike for two weeks, asking for the resignation of Maryse Delente (the director and main choreographer of the company) and Claude Burguière


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It will be interesting to see how the meeting goes on October 7. If I'm reading the article correctly, and with my French I probably am not, the issues seem to be not administrative, artistic, or financial – the company seems to be in good shape there – but personal – maltreatment of dancers, excessive "authoritativeness"?

I note the dancers were granted appointments at the Ministry of Culture to discuss the matter. As an American, I'm always amazed by: 1) the government actually having a Ministry of Culture; and 2) dancers on strike getting an actual official hearing.

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Yes dirac, you've understood it correctly, the problem is personal: people complain about Maryse Delente's attitude, accusing her of moral harrassment, humiliating people, bad working conditions... On the other hand, Maryse Delente says she is harressed and persecuted. Nothing is written about the artistic side (by the way, the Ballet du Nord used to be a ballet company, with a fairly large Balanchine repertory, until the early 1990s, then had some big financial problems under the direction of Jean-Paul Comelin, there was a big mess as the ministry of Culture wanted Prejlocaj to lead the company -especially as he would have brought the dancers of his company and fired the previous ones- and after a while Maryse Delente was chosen as the new director. As first she was supposed to have a diverse repertory, but now most of the repertory is her own modern works.

Some are interesting, in my opinion, but the people in Lille and Roubaix can't see any ballet any longer.)

The end of the article lists the public subsidies given to the Ballet du Nord: about 763000 euros

(1 euro is a bit less than 1 US $) from the state (ministry of Culture), 763000 euros from the Region Nord-Pas de Calais, 381000 from the city of Roubaix, and 107000 from the departement of Nord. Roubaix has about 100000 inhabitants, but it is a close suburb of Lille and the whole conurbation is more than 1 million inhabitants (Lille has no ballet company).

I was a bit surprised too that they were received indeed at the Ministry of Culture, as such problem generally are solved at a local level (with officials of the city or the region), but it seems that the situation is quite bad and no solution seems to be found...

Actually most European countries have Ministries of Culture, as far as I know. The budget for the French one is about 2.6 billion euros this year, a bit less than 1% of the total budget of the state. A few days ago there were some debates in the newspapers because the 2003 budget for culture is about 5% lower than the 2002 one (contrary to what President Chirac had promised during his campaign). On the other hand, private sponsorship for culture is far weaker than in the US...

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