A non-dancer, I found the article interesting, informative, and a little sad. Because, you know, strip away the glitch and ballet is a business like any other and dancers are workers like any other. Really, why should I have expected differently?
Everything they say, I or those whom I know have also done. Hide injuries for fear of retaliation. Pay for our own treatment rather than navigate the workers comp system (which the Governor and compliant legislature decided a few years back was not screwing workers enough, so they made it even more impossible to get treatment and benefits). Don't speak about dangerous conditions, because you'll be branded a trouble maker and "not a team player". So Julianne Kepley felt she could not make a fuss about a skirt too long for her safety. And when you are no longer useful, you get discarded like a used kleenex. Like Jason Davis, fired by form letter after ten years. There is no nice way to take away someone's livelihood, but there are exceptionally nasty ones. And a form letter is pretty nasty.
I found it interesting that ballet is listed as more dangerous than pro football (and bullfighting). I am a sports fan and I have observed in the last 10-15 years a huge advance in sports medicine, both treatment and even more so prevention. A lot of research has gone into making pro sports less physically damaging to athletes. In the 1970s a pro athlete past 30 was rare, now it's common and you even see some past 35, even an occasional 40-year-old. I think a lot has to do with economics. An elite pro athlete in major (male) sports represents an investment of millions of dollars. Contracts, often guaranteed, of $10, $20, even $50 or $100 million. No owner wants to shell out that kind of money to see the star sit out. So it's worth their while to invest in preventing or at least mitigating injuries.
But when Davis was thrown out on his ear, I'm certain there were a half dozen, at least, talented, capable, qualified, eager young male ballet students ready to do anything for a position in the corps. Ballet dancers don't represent such a huge investment, there are a lot more dancers than available positions, and that may make them more expendable. I also can't help thinking that, at least for women, the additional stress placed on their bodies by staying very thin, below their "natural" weight, make them more likely to suffer injuries. I don't know, I'm no doctor, but the more stress placed on one's body the harder it is to avoid or recover from inuries.
There is no simple solution. Athletes were also considered expendable until the huge popularity and TV revenues allowed at least the most elite of the elite to draw huge salaries, resulting in better conditions for all of them. I doubt ballet dancers would ever receive even the Major League minimum ($390,000 in 2008), but at least by supporting them, pushing for dance on TV and in communities, and defending their right to work as safely as possible, maybe, just maybe, we who support dance can do something to help?
Perhaps this belongs more as an issue thread than in SFB season thread?
Just my thoughts on the matter.