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October 23, 2023


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It seems like this is a pretty common theme every few years.

Is this an industry thing? A New York 'win-at-all-costs' thing? Is revenue not high enough to meet the requests?

Why can't (or won't) companies and artists reach agreements before things get to the point where there are strikes and lockouts?

Yeah, it seems this stress rocks the company all too frequently. It could be helpful if the contract prohibited the dancers and stage managers from working for ABT after the contract expired. It would then be impossible for the company to book performances past the expiration date and would encourage a longer length contract, greater board commitment, and more collaborative & timely negotiations.

What I want to know is does ABT not have the money to pay the dancers their salaries, benefits and pension? They “saved” money for years by reducing the pay and payment into the pension plan. Their biggest asset is the dancers. They need to pay them. It is unconscionable to me. ( PS. The part in the letters about ABT disrespecting the dancers at negotiations is appalling). This whole thing upsets me. And yes, who is at the negotiating table for management besides Susan Jaffe?


It is upsetting, isn't it? I don't know who is at the negotiating table, but I'm interested to know. Maybe some of the dancers can disclose that -- particularly who is there for management. If they are hired lawyers, well, forget about getting anything done because their job is to get as much in givebacks as they can coerce from the dancers and give as little as possible.

Tonight is ABT’s Fall Gala. A number of dancers wore their AGMA T-shirt’s before going into the Gala. James Whiteside wore his Hermes tuxedo with his sweatshirt pinned to the back of his suit. ( PS Another dance website published ABT’s Financials and Tax forms for the last eight years. Only one year they were in the “red”, 2019 ( pandemic).

Any thoughts about getting Andrew Barth's sister, former ABT member, Carmen, involved with the negotiations? Granted, she's not on the board of trustees, but I would think she'd have a distinct perspective of what the current company are having to deal with. And yes, the economics are quite different from when she danced with ABT but still....Just a thought....

It just seems that the dancers' situation at ABT is so dire that a strike is warranted even at the expense of the upcoming tour to China and the Nutcracker at Segerstrom. Let management explain to the Chinese that the dancers of America's National Ballet Company are striking for decent pay and benefits; that America, which cries for human rights in China all the time, doesn't pay its vaunted national ballet dancers a living wage and adequate benefits.

The ABT board is waving the national flag while starving the proletariat. I don't like seeing this at all. Not one bit. There is plenty of money in New York to support this ballet company. How is it that ABT's board can't seem to tap into it?

On another note but related to the shortened Met season -- I just don't know how these dancers (especially the higher ranked ones) justify staying at a company with so little performance time. Cassie Trenary, a principal, danced what? 4 times this fall season? And maybe 4 times for the Met season? Someone in the prime of her ballet life (as short as that is) is actually onstage a couple handfuls of time all year. It's quite insane when compared with NYCB or even to a lesser extend SFB or PNB.

Formerdancer, ITA.

While being an ABT dancer takes a full time, year around effort, the dancers barely get seasonal employment. If ABT can't provide better, they shouldn't be America's National Ballet Company.

formerdancer: I would say Trenary has been on the stage a lot compared to some other principals.

Allie, for example -- with backup numbers? Compared to which current principals who are not on leave?

"I just don't know how these dancers (especially the higher ranked ones) justify staying at a company with so little performance time."

This company has a lot of dead weight at the top that it is carrying. And the house needs to be cleared. The ball was dropped in not grooming new faces to replace the older dancers who should be retiring now. Plus the house was cleaned with all the wrong dancers. Quite a number of them had potential but were not in favor. But all that was before Jaffe's time. However she should have cleaned the roster immediately. It could be the board is an impediment to that much needed action.

haglund, no one was promoted in ABT this year?

Hi, Mark.

Not yet. It seems the delay may be due in part to the fact that there are no new contracts that can be signed until the dancers' union AGMA and ABT management agree on a new overall contract.

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