Dancers' Rights; When is it too much?

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I was handed this article yesterday by a colleague of mine at Lincoln Center. Personally, I’ve always been a huge advocate for dancers’ rights, but as I read the article I started to have mixed feelings. In this bad economy, all of us have suffered cutbacks, pay freezes, insurance changes, etc . . . Yet, I’m wondering where and how the sacrifices should happen. It’s such a tangled web to weave. This is not to say I am for pay freezes or any type of infringement on dancers’ rights. But, I am questioning what is considered a true ‘infringement.’ The dancers at City Ballet receive substantial paychecks and benefits in comparison to other company and freelance dancers. I’d love to hear others’ thoughts.

NYTimes: Deficit Complicates City Ballet Labor Talks

NYCB dancers in Balanchine's "Serenade"

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  • candice

    I am so glad you brought this topic up! I am going to be blogging about this more as I am writing a research about the politics of patrons of dance (namely David Koch) and how those said donors create anti-union fervor in this country (by funding groups such as Americans for Prosperity), further eroding the rights of the few dancers who do have unions.

    I would say since most dance careers are at best short and precarious, not to mention the other issues such as the ratio of the director salary as compared to the highest paid dancer salary, it is nearly impossible for any union representing dancers to go too far. Dancers only push for these sort of contracts when they are overworked and injured. I was particularly offended by the push by NYCB to lessen the overtime pay. If you are dancing 30-40 hours a week, the high price for overtime pay is there to discourage the use of it, not to make dancers rich off of it. Anyhow, I will definitely be putting out more of my thoughts on this as my research develops.

    It was funny though, I was already working on my paper when this dispute came to light and in many ways it just further illustrates what I think are conflicts of interest between certain high profile patrons of the arts and artists.

  • Stephanie

    Candice, I knew you would have great thoughts to contribute towards this. I find myself a bit washy and in the middle – odd for myself because normally I am rather outspoken on topics. Anyway, I would love to read your research paper once you have completed it. I am assuming it is for LEAP. Can’t believe that next weekend is my final presentation and then I am DONE with Kinesiology! Yay!

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