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PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2006 4:41 pm 
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Miss Kendall, however, seems unable to shake off a sense of betrayal. "I don't even want to say how angry some of the board is or how hurt people are about their lawyers, their tactics, their comments, the news photos of their smiles as they go out on strike and bring down 'The Nutcracker,'" she says.

This is interesting with regard to the photo, I must admit, when I first saw the photo on AGMA's website I couldn't understand why AGMA would post a photo of the washington ballet dancers all smiling before picketing outside of the theatre :? . Has anyone else seen that photo? I guess it was used in the local papers around washington as well.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 12:40 pm 
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Seeking Their Balance
Washington Ballet Management and the Dancers' Union Hope Mediation Will Show Them the Steps to Healing

By Sarah Kaufman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 1, 2006; Page C01

Quote:
Walk into the Washington Ballet headquarters these days and you could almost believe things are back to normal. There is faint piano music from one studio. Dancers converse in the stairwell, and the bulletin board is full of notices. But the piano plays for a class of high school students; the voices you hear are the high-pitched chatterings of grade-school girls. Posted on the wall are dates of Washington School of Ballet performances and auditions.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/28/AR2006022801854.html


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 1:12 pm 
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A fascinating article by Sarah Kaufman, both for the specific Washington Ballet situation, but also for what goes on behind the scenes in other companies.

Everyone seems to agree that Weber has many good points, but he does seem to get "carried away" and forget about dancers' welfare. His comment about expecting the dancers to remind him that it was time for a break seems naive.

Here's hoping that the Federal Mediator can coax and knock heads together and get the show on the road again.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 1:20 pm 
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The Washington dancers want three years of employment guaranteed for the current members (new hires would get the standard one-year deal), which no other AGMA contract provides. This, they say, is to protect themselves from retaliation by Webre.


This could be a huge hurdle for both sides to get over. It is unheard of for a company in the USA to offer a three year agreement.

It is good to hear that they have a fedral mediator that is experienced with labor conflict in the ring with them. Hopefully it will produce results.

Quote:
Assuming the dancers went back to work at the end of the month and worked through June -- a timeline that would include rescheduling some of the canceled productions -- the company would post a deficit of $850,000 for the 2005-06 year,

WOW :shock: :shock: :shock:
That is not good at all.

Quote:
Out of eight companies contacted for this story, the directors of five refused to speak on the record about their own negotiations. Just mentioning the American Guild of Musical Artists, the union that represents the Washington Ballet dancers as well as dancers at 21 other companies, is enough to bring a chill into the conversation. The reason for this, observers say, is that in recent years AGMA has become especially combative.

Gee, do ya think? :?


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 1:39 pm 
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I agree AGMA has been getting a little agressive lately. Any idea what may have caused this? A change in the leadership of the union? A change in the philosophy of the dancers? It doesn't seem their tactics will really work in the long run.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 2:08 pm 
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Quote:
I agree AGMA has been getting a little agressive lately. Any idea what may have caused this?


LMC, if I had to guess I would say they are on a mission to try and sign more companies up and the best way to do that is by putting articles in papers and making headlines stating that they stand hard nosed for dancers' rights. Of course this is just a hypothesis.

Quote:
It doesn't seem their tactics will really work in the long run.


Great point, and I couldn't agree more, just look at the current situation with Washington Ballet, how can you justify creating a 850,000 deficit and potentially closing a company on issues that could have been resolved with proper negotiations. Negotiation would have been the smarter move on AGMA's part here and I just can't see the logic in their actions. Striking is a last resort, and should only be used in the most dire of circumstances. As I see it, this whole thing was a public and industry PR stunt BY AGMA FOR AGMA and at the potential expense of the entire Washington Ballet. These issues at hand could have been resolved even with a federal mediator while everyone was still at work. AGMA choose to use Nutcracker as a bargaining chip and it blew up in their face. I am probably going to get flamed for these statements but I myself used to run a dancer union and from my perspective that is what is between the lines here.

I truly feel for those dancers because I don't think they have even begun to realize the consequences for all of this. Somebody should have told them not to drink the Kool-Aid on this one.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 3:03 pm 
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't AGMA work to come up with an interim agreement long before the situation came to a head? And also didn't AGMA agree to mediation after the strike/lockout/whatever, an offer which the Washington Ballet turned down? Sounds like AGMA has been the more flexible and willing to work...

Not that I'm particularly pro-union (in my field there aren't many unionized jobs), but I think dancers are in a profession where they can be easily used and abused, so having a strong union is important.

And it seems to me that Washington Ballet is being unreasonabley unyielding about the issues which are of concern to AGMA - like company size (important IMHO, to prevent overuse of dancers, and also standard in any AGMA contract), use of non-company members in performances (again terms of this are standard in AGMA contracts) and rehearsal times.

It looks to me like AGMA is trying to work with the situation and the company is not. AGMA contracts are no secret - most are posted on the web - and the terms are there for safety and health reasons. And healthy and safe dancers are usually happy and productive dancers, which are the best kind to have.

Kate


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 4:47 pm 
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ksneds wrote:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't AGMA work to come up with an interim agreement long before the situation came to a head?

Yes they did and they put the deadline for it at December 15th 2005, right before Nutcracker was to open, thus using Nutcracker as a bargaining chip, hence my criticism of how they went about trying to get an interim agreement signed and entered into. Just goto AGMA's website and read the timeline, they all said if the proposed interim agreement was not signed by December 15th they would not perform in the Nutcracker. That whole idea of using Nutcracker as a bargaining chip in the negotiations is crazy and has and will continue through the coming months come back to haunt the entire organization.

ksneds wrote:
And also didn't AGMA agree to mediation after the strike/lockout/whatever, an offer which the Washington Ballet turned down?

Now maybe I am wrong here but I think AGMA agreed to mediation with only one person and that was Michael Kaiser who is not a federal mediator. Actually, the more I think about it there may be more to this particular part of the story than we realize, time will tell though.

ksneds wrote:
Sounds like AGMA has been the more flexible and willing to work...
I don't know about anyone else in here but I feel this is not so much about which side is more flexible than the other. This whole situation should have been about achieving improvements and working conditions for artists while still maintaining the integrity and livelyhoods of both the Washington Ballet as well as AGMA and the members they represent. BOTH sides failed in achieving that.

ksneds wrote:
Not that I'm particularly pro-union (in my field there aren't many unionized jobs),

As a dancer in the united states I am EXTREMELY PRO UNION especially within the entire entertainment industry. However, there is a right way to approach things and a wrong way and in my opinion this whole situation was approached in the wrong way from the union side.

ksneds wrote:
but I think dancers are in a profession where they can be easily used and abused, so having a strong union is important.
You are absolutely 100% correct, having a strong and effective union is important. I guess it all depends on what your definition of a "Strong and Effective" union is.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 02, 2006 4:32 pm 
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That's a very good point. "Strong and effective" are not synonymous with "pushy and sneaky".

I have a few points of contention with AGMA's stated requirements, particularly the size of the company and the use of apprentice and school dancers. Every company does this. What is the difference in the Washington Ballet situation that makes the union suddenly want this policy changed? If the company doesn't feel it has the money to expand the dancers roster, but feels like it must perform Swan Lake, then isn't AGMA putting the company management into an impossible position.

And what is the deal with the 3 yr guarantee. No one else does this. I understand they want to protect dancers from retaliation, but 3 YRS!? Surely that is excessive.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 02, 2006 6:37 pm 
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On the issue of the 3-year contract to protect the dancers' repressentatives, perhaps the Paris Opera Ballet example is interesting. From memory, any dancer representing their colleagues on the POB Board etc has a 3-year (I think) grace period when a potentially vindictive management could not get rid of a "difficult" dancer. This came up when we discussed the Kimberley Glasco affair (dancer rep Principal on the Board, sacked under problematic circumstances, eventually securing a LARGE out of court settlement from National Ballet of Canada).

I have to say that while I can see that there is a case for protecting the interests of the reps, I don't see why it has to extend to the entire company.

I am missing something? It wouldn't be the first time.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 02, 2006 7:15 pm 
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The entire company (with the possible exception of the two who did not vote in favor of accepting AGMA as the company's bargaining representative) is equally at risk for retaliation. (The vote was 18 in favor of AGMA, two against.) The two union organizers were subjected to non-renewal for undisclosed artistic reasons. A year has already gone by without any signed agreement. Three years starts to sound like not very long at all....


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2006 3:19 am 
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If I'm not mistaken, three years is just the length of the standard AGMA Company contract - i.e. the general terms between the company, AGMA and dancers. The individual contracts for the dancers are signed each year and can change.

Seems to be like most union contracts - it would be a pain to all involved if the terms were to change every year given the time and effort that goes into dealing with a contract. And three years gives you a chance to see whether the terms are working - one year's experience really doesn't give you much to judge by.

Kate


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 Post subject: Did you say Kinetic Energy
PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2006 4:51 am 
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I've just read Sarah Kaufman's piece in the Washington Post.

As people don't seem to read much these days, I've selected a few passages, that we might want to mull over.

In a nutshell, this business about so-called "kinetic energy" and "upping the energy levels" --- well, it tells you why we rarely qualify as an "art" form these days. And thanks, Miss Kaufman, for these interviews.


From a piece by Sarah Kaufman, Washington Post, February 28th 2006


Extracts from article begin HERE:



"However, Webre said, "one of my priorities in coming here was to increase the kinetic energy of the company and increase the energy onstage, and certainly that requires the body to get used to that kind of physical output."


"...Coleman said in his six years with the company before Webre arrived, he had never been injured, but "in my first rehearsal with Septime, in the first 30 minutes I tore my ACL" -- the knee's anterior cruciate ligament -- "and I was out for three months."

"Elizabeth Gaither said that in the eight years that she danced with American Ballet Theatre, she had no major injuries, but less than a year after joining the Washington Ballet, she needed surgery on her foot.

"J. Cortney Palomo blames overwork for injuries that ended his career at age 28, when each of his shinbones snapped while he was recovering from surgery on stress fractures. Metal rods had to be implanted in his tibias from knees to ankles; a year later, he says he still walks with difficulty.



http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 854_5.html

Copyright Sarah Kaufman


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2006 1:58 pm 
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Do they have sprung floors?

SFB experienced an increase in injuries when Helgi took over. They replaced their floors, the injuries abated. They didn't stop, but they abated.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 2006 8:27 am 
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OK so looking at this again with a few of these quotes, thanks Kanter :D , I want to point out something that is pretty obvious;

Quote:
Coleman said in his six years with the company before Webre arrived, he had never been injured, but "in my first rehearsal with Septime, in the first 30 minutes I tore my ACL" -- the knee's anterior cruciate ligament -- "and I was out for three months."


Firs off, this is most unfortunate and that totally sucks for this guy Coleman, I have friends that have torn their ACL and it ended their career(s). However, due to the fact that it happened on the very first day and very first rehearsal with the new artistic director it points to a much larger issue; the difficulty or inability of dancers from the previous Washington Ballet generation or another company all-together to be able to adapt to a completely new style of work ethic and choreography under a new artistic leader. When this is the case you have one of two options to consider as a dancer:
1- ADAPT and deal with it.
2- LEAVE and find a more suitable position.

Here is another quoted example of this right out of the mouths of the company members themselves.

Quote:
"Elizabeth Gaither said that in the eight years that she danced with American Ballet Theatre, she had no major injuries, but less than a year after joining the Washington Ballet, she needed surgery on her foot.

Anyone noticing a trend?? :?


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