I think you need to step back and not read so much into a few sentences.
Firstly, it took a combined 21 years of education, plus several years of working for me to get to the point of completing a PhD. And starting in college, and certainly in grad-school, that was year-round, and often well more than 8 hours per day, 5 days per week. In my field, there are almost certainly far fewer professorial jobs available than there are positions at ballet companies. And yes, dancers' careers are short, but they were out there living their dream and earning good money for years whilst many of us are still grinding through years of education in order to even begin a first career. I have a great respect for ballet dancers and the sacrifices they make for their careers, but at the same time feel that they shouldn't be elevated above those in numerous other professions who make equal sacrifices.
Honestly, I think it would have been a much better article to get companies to open up (some have) about the effect of the economy on their finances, and the steps they have chosen to take and why. Each company is unique, so what might have worked for one company doesn't work for another. Obviously, there are some privacy issues, but I think it would be good for many companies and unions to be a lot more open about finances. It's great that the basic union contracts are online and we can see some salaries on the tax forms, but that leaves a lot blanks in the picture. The fact is that the economy is hitting everyone hard, and dancers are no different in that respect. And perhaps it's a shock to the dancers who have been somewhat insulated from the wider job world and the harsh realities of getting two weeks notice.
I can totally empathize with Ms. Flack and the other dancers on having their NYCB careers cut short. My dream for years was to be a vet, but I got rejected twice from vet school. At that point, I had to reassess my goals and figure out how to take my skills and experiences and find another direction to take my life. It hurts, there were many tears along the way and many frustrations, but it worked out in the end. And that's the process the dancers are going through - and they shouldn't feel like they are alone. It doesn't mean they are bad dancers, or will never have another opportunity to dance professionally or are failures. They've just hit a speed bump like millions of other people in this economy. So perhaps they need a little perspective...
Yes, 10 dancers lost jobs. But, for the most part, they are in their mid-twenties, and have had the opportunity to save money and should have a good network of connections in the dance and other NYC worlds. Which already means that they have a lot more going for them than many people who are finding themselves without jobs. For comparison, I think about the workers at a wood-paneling factory north of here. These are people mostly in theirs 40s, 50s, 60s with high school educations or less, with families, mortgages, kids in school etc. And it's not a metropolitan area - there's not much else up there besides the closing factories but farmland and forest. So there are few accessible opportunities for retraining, other jobs and unemployment doesn't pay soon enough or enough to support a family or pay for petrol to drive hours in search of jobs. And if they got retrained, getting hired at 40 or 50+ is a tough feat. Further, if these people have no money, then what becomes of all the stores in the villages and towns where they live or the schools and services if people can't afford to pay their taces. It's a very scary situation all around. Compare that to a 26 year old dancer who is very right to hurting and upset, but has a world of opportunities in NYC, through connections fostered in the dance world and in NYC.
As I said, I thought the article in the NY Times showed Ms. Flack in a good light and it looks like she has a very bright future in front of her. But, I found the TimeOutNY interview rather unprofessional which could quite easily be due to the writer's line of questioning and choice of edits.
Having never met or known Mr. Martins, I cannot make any real judgement on his character or choices, but I've had some horrible bosses. However, though I've vented plenty in private and to trusted friends, I've never made my feelings known in public. You have to take the bad, and use it to make yourself stronger and learn to highlight your strengths. And lot other people's poor behaviour drag you down. Criminal acts against oneself/one's company aside, venting in public rarely is considered appealing behaviour nor is it looked upon in good graces by future/potential employers.
I think perhaps one of the problems is that ballet dancers who come from ballet schools to apprenticeships to companies often lack the job skills/job hunting/job smarts that others get from further education and experience in the job-interviewing (as opposed to auditioning) world. It's something I think CTFD helps with, but would probably be a great help to be taught in the upper levels of ballet schools or as part of apprentice programs. How about a course that would teach upper level students to read and understand a basic contract, to be able to set up a budget to determine whether a salary offered by a company would be enough to cover expenses, to be able to deal with insurance companies.
FYI, I'm pretty sure that NYCBs does not - or has not have/had in the past - a 52 year contract. I think they are laid off - tours excepted - between the end of Saratoga and the start of winter rehearsals in October. Though their benefits may well extend through the layoff - i.e. medica;/pension/dental/life. But if they are making $50-70,000 a year (though NYC costs are horrific), that's more than most 52 week salaries. Somewhere I thought I read that Houston Ballet had the longest contract, though I think reading more recently that the new Clear Lake (?) company has the longest contract now.
I do very much resent the implication that I lack respect for ballet/arts or an understanding of their importance. I have been quite vocal about my disgust for the cuts to arts funding here and the totally idiotic comments made by the Canadian prime minister. Arts are vital and will always be a key part of society. Here and in the US, arts bring in millions, if not billions of dollars to the economy through ticket tales and indirect items such as tourism, money spent on meals, lodging, parking, books, CDs/DVDs and transport (and of course taxes paid by those who earn salaries in the arts). Nevermind, that over the years, I've spent much time and money in many places to promote that dance world through reviews, interviews, features and word of mouth promotion. Trust me, if I didn't have such a great passion for dance, I would have spent much more of my foreign vacations seeing the sights than sitting in uncomfortable chairs/floors in windowless ballet studios.
To sum up, I have the greatest respect for ballet dancers, but feel that perhaps we need some perspective when considering layoffs and the like. Perhaps the best advice for us all - dancers, researchers, politicians, bankers and all is constantly push our own boundaries and o make our lives as diverse as possible. So if one dream must end, there are others to pursue....