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PostPosted: Sun Dec 25, 2005 10:18 am 
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Obviously, Salzberg and I just had a little misunderstanding. Did Ben Stevenson bankrupt a company with his actions? Anyway, should Washington Ballet close its doors, it will clear the way for Suzanne Farrell to have her own full-fledged ballet company.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2005 10:04 am 
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Ballet Announces '06 Cancellations
Dancers, Who Say They Would Lose About 3 Months' Pay, Seek Injunction

By Neely Tucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 24, 2005; Page C01

Quote:
The Washington Ballet yesterday canceled or postponed several engagements for next year, prompting the dancers' union to file charges with the National Labor Relations Board seeking an injunction to keep the schedule intact.

The union's response came within hours of the company's announcement that it would drop three engagements in the wake of a labor contract dispute that scuttled several of the troupe's highly profitable "Nutcracker" Christmas performances.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/23/AR2005122301644.html


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2005 2:45 pm 
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After reading that, I think it save to predict Washington Ballet will go under. I think the fans should lock themselves out until this company gets new management. These guys just don’t get it. The ticket buyer has the ultimate power. If nobody goes, nobody will give to support the company and the company will go under. I’d love to know how much the AD and ED get paid for bankrupting a ballet company?

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2005 2:17 pm 
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Hi, Everybody:

Michael Goldbarth's 12/25 posting on the effects of the Washington Ballet troubles on Suzanne Farrell Ballet raises questions about how these troubles will affect the rest of the dance community for the next few years:

Patrons: Which ones will back away from Washington Ballet? Washington is so politicized that liberals probably will back away from the company because of its labor practices, while conservatives choose to help out a victim. The extreme would be a Democratic ballet company (Suzanne Farrell) and a Republican ballet company (Washington Ballet). I wouldn't want to make this too political, but I can't help but fear.

Audiences and presenters: Where will residents and visitors go for ballet? Does this boost sales for touring companies at the Kennedy Center and other venues?

Area Dance Students: How will this affect the Washington Ballet School? Are their teachers on strike? Did funds pass between company and school in the past? Which way? What would the school be like without its company?

Professional Dancers and Interns: I can't imagine dancers wanting to stay in an environment so poisoned. With experienced dancers from Ballet Internationale and Washington Ballet in the mix, how will things be at company auditions across North America this year?

We can all hope this gets worked out before these grim musings become more likely. Any other ripples we can think of?

Frank N.

p.s. Standard Disclaimer applies: I don't write with a call for gossip, but rather in hopes of learning what has been published on the issue, and in frustration at the way things are working out.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2005 8:33 am 
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As a subscriber to the Washington Ballet, I am not yet ready to give up on them. (BTW I would classify myself as a bleeding heart liberal!)


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2005 8:47 am 
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Quote:
The extreme would be a Democratic ballet company (Suzanne Farrell) and a Republican ballet company (Washington Ballet).


I can just imagine Farrell's dancers making all their entrances from Stage Left and the WB's dancers making all their entrances from Stage Right....

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2005 12:03 pm 
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Michael Goldbarth wrote:
I think there is a difference between a company going under because there just wasn’t enough interest in ballet and because of something the AD did to bring that about.


Let us not forget the fact that there are many more people that had quite a bit to do with this scenario then just the artistic director Septime Webre and executive director Jason Palmquist. Ultimately, neither of them could have made these decisions without the board of directors and Trustees of the Washington Ballet allowing it. Artistic Directors have power over artistic authority, executive directors oversee everything related to administration and implementation of what the board of directors/trustees decide and communicate the progress or problems directly to the board. A decision like this is not something that is just left in the hands of two people. In fact, there have been many quotes in these different news stories from various members of the board of directors about how they themselves felt the union and dancers were asking for more than they could give. Additionally, AGMA is equally to blame in all of this, you don't push things to the point of no return when you hold the responsibility of so many people's livelyhoods in your hands. Simple reason being, NOBODY wins in this scenario, not AGMA, not the Washington Ballet, not the dancers, not the board, nobody!

Ultimately, and this is just my opinion here, I think there will be a Washington Ballet in the future, with or without these dancers, but that may take some time. In the meantime, I hope some of those dancers had backup gigs lined up because there is just not that much going on for this amount of newly unemployed dancers to enter the job market in the USA.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2005 7:04 pm 
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I have no doubt the board had some say. At the same token, it’s hard to believe the board would scrap the season if the AD and ED strenuously argued against it. Osiris661 summed it all up best with the below:

Quote:
“Simple reason being, NOBODY wins in this scenario, not AGMA, not the Washington Ballet, not the dancers, not the board, nobody!”


Personally, I don’t think Washington Ballet can afford to blow off a season like the Washington Capitals. If the demand is there ballet will return. Sadly, we all know most dancers make far less than transit workers.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2005 2:11 pm 
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I guess I am confused. What was it that the board of directors could not give these dancers????????? They were asking for job security, health care and reasonable rehearsal hours that were comparable to all the other union ballet companies. And another point - there are ways to continue the company working while solving the issues on the table. There are union companies dancing right now that have contract issues but both parties prefer to continue working while negotiations continue as well. As a whole, dancers are hard workers and are very disciplined. Even though there are always two sides to every story, from everything I have read, I stand with the dancers! If they cannot work under the current conditions then there must be real issue. No dancer wants 'not to dance'. The Board of directors must know where this is all leading towards.......wouldn't they? So how important are these issues to them in terms of running a successful ballet company?

My heart goes out to these WB dancers. Let us hope that the leadership at this company opens its heart and mind to the importance of it employees and that both sides can come to terms that will enable WB to continue onward and upward. And if the cost of becoming a union company is too high for WB, then the dancers must understand the economics as well and come to their own terms as to what they can live with and without.......I am sure there are very tough concerns all around.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2005 11:30 pm 
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Osiris, you make so much sense. In the art of negotiation, it's risky to take things to the brink and to leave the other side without options unless total failure is an acceptable outcome. Going for win-lose, everyone ended up with lose-lose.

osiris661 wrote:
Ultimately, and this is just my opinion here, I think there will be a Washington Ballet in the future, with or without these dancers, but that may take some time.


Funny you say that, because I was mentioning that to a couple of people. Am I correct in that this may be exactly the kind of thing to give the community a kick in the pants? The way it was going, DC got a couple years after-life bonus with the company. Now, with the right start, the right people, the right passion, and cool heads, a new company can be rebuilt, slowly but stronger.

osiris661 wrote:
In the meantime, I hope some of those dancers had backup gigs lined up because there is just not that much going on for this amount of newly unemployed dancers to enter the job market in the USA.


Sad. Unlike the board, these dancers don't have other jobs -- they have everything to lose. That is why negotiations between dancers and the company are usually not in the dancers' favor.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2006 3:45 pm 
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Here is a discussion from AGMA's website:

AGMA


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 8:13 am 
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Somebody reads Stuart Sweeney. Unfortunately, they’re not listening. Washington Ballet declined the services of a mediator to resolve their dispute with the dancers.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 9:41 am 
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From the Washington Post article referenced above by Michael:
Quote:
Officials from the American Guild of Musical Artists, the union representing the dancers, had agreed to allow Kaiser to mediate. Refusing Kaiser's help at a time when the ballet is effectively shuttered, with the next three months of performances scrapped, was "asinine," said Alan Gordon, AGMA's executive director.

Strong words. The ED has refused the assistance of his famous and accomplished former boss and "mentor"? These negotiating issues are looking more and more like testosterone issues. Mediating isn't arbitrating - you can always walk away. But to refuse this type of help? Crazy.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 9:57 am 
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Amen to that, Poohtunia. The interesting thing is that if Kaiser was to have a bias, which I dont believe he would have, then one would guess it would be for management and Palmquist, who he used to work with.

As it is, the Union have agreed to Kaiser and for Palmquist, "...in this particular instance we're just not there yet." One wonders whether "there" is the bankruptcy filing.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 4:29 pm 
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If I were just a touch more cynical, I would suggest that perhaps more than anything, WB management -- which, you recall, resisted unionization -- is interested in breaking the union.

Just a touch....

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