Ballet dancers and steelworkers–kindred spirits?

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In honor of OWS’s May Day celebrations and protests, I offer these humble thoughts for dancers, who are more often than not on the bottom half of the 99% in terms of earning power….

This past Sunday, I was enjoying my new morning ritual of drinking coffee and reading the New York Times OUTSIDE when I came across this article about the United Steelworkers and their plight to recall Scott Walker.


Warning/Admission: I danced for Milwaukee Ballet Company which is a member of AGMA. I was also a representative for the dancers at the collective bargaining table. I do have opinions and sometimes they have an agenda. Sometimes they also get me in trouble. Proceed with caution.

Due to collective bargaining and Wisconsin both being close to my heart, I have followed the Scott Walker recall debate. Indeed, it even led me to do further research about David Koch, infamous donor to New York City Ballet and whose name now owns the former New York State Theater, in relation to Scott Walker and the PAC’s that fund him (such as Americans for Prosperity). I wrote an essay about how Koch’s politics affect the lives of the dancers he patronizes. It is long. Email me if you want your eyes, ears, and soul to spontaneously erupt in angry flames and I will send it to you.

A bumper sticker I saw in Milwaukee earlier this month.

The long and short of my hours spent researching, thinking, and obsessing over politics and the art form I love is this question (or two):

Do dancers and steelworkers make for kindred spirits when it comes time to bite the hand that feeds them? Especially when it is literally the hand of the same man? Our leotards may be white, but if we wore collars they would be blue.




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