The Politiken has a series of articles on the budget cuts and layoffs that the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen is facing. The theatre will have to lay off 100 employees including 35 performing articles. With four major performing groups (ballet, opera, orchestra, drama) that comes out to about 7-10 dancers.
According to the article, Hübbe will determine which dancers are laid off, and will inform the dancers in mid January (which is when I believe they return from winter break). It's a sad state of affairs, but not an unexpected one given the poor audience numbers at performances and the plummeting European economic state.
Apparently some of the losses will offset by dancers who are reaching the formal pension age - Thomas Flindt Jeppesen, Jean Lucien Massot and Lesley Culver will all be 40 this year or in 2012 and another dancer in 2013, plus a bunch in 2014. However, clearly some dancers will have to be let go, more if they have to make additional cuts to hire any of the current large crop of apprentices.
My guess will be that given the losses will be absorbed primarily in the corps, especially the women - given that there are fewer men. Also, I have never really understood the ins and outs of contractual issues with non-EU dancers, but I would suspect non-Danish and especially non-EU dancers will be more at risk. Non-EU dancers, in particular, presumably have less protection in terms of job stability and are more expensive due to visas and residence permits. Plus, there has been an influx of non-EU dancers lately, so the younger dancers are more likely to be non-EU. In addition, with the start of the boarding school, there seems to be a significant rise in the number of Danish students progressing through the school and becoming apprentices - thus less of a need to hire outside Denmark and the EU.
This issue is touched on in another Politiken article which suggests that the dancers are less than thrilled with how things have been handled. One of the dancers quoted is Josee Howard Bowman, who has danced with the company for many years and is a British citizen (as far as I know). She expresses concern about not being able to stay in Denmark with her husband (principal dancer Andrew Bowman) and two children. I totally feel for her concern about potentially losing her job at the age of 37, but question whether she's at any risk of not being able to stay in Denmark. It would seem unlikely that Bowman would lose his position, so she'd be entitled to stay on as a spouse. Furthermore, as a British citizen, she would be entitled to live and work in Denmark without a visa (though she'd have to secure a residence permit), and I can't see the government refusing a permit given her husband's work, her potential for finding another job (she's done brilliant work with a Pilates program for wounded veterans), having two Danish born children, her EU country passport and her long history in Denmark.
It does suck to be in an unstable position, but unfortunately that's the real world now. It's better to be 20 or 30 something and looking for a job rather than 50 or 60 something. And yes, the timing sucks because the dancers who are laid off won't know before many of the auditions for other companies. However, it seems that if a company wants a dancer, they can often hire outside of auditions.
I suspect that Hübbe is pretty much caught between a rock and a hard place here - the management is probably giving him a strict timetable - which I suspect is dictated by the contractual right for the dancers to get x number of months notice of layoff and by the budget year (which general ends around tax time, i.e. March-May). And I can't imagine Hübbe is anything close to happy about having to make layoffs. As is rightly pointed out in the article, it hurts his ability to put on large productions and makes him the bad guy (meanwhile the government types who actually decide on the budget cuts are many layers removed from the pain of the layoffs).
If I were the dancers, I'd be darn upset, but focus on reality and encourage the company and the union to promote opportunities to learn about budgeting and investing, and on continuing education. More than ever, dancers need to cultivate skills beyond performing - teaching, writing, directing, choreography, Pilates, music, modeling, whatever you are talented in... so that they aren't left hanging when performing opportunities dry up. Unfortunately, the days of guaranteed pensions (as small as they might be) are no longer a sure thing. And ensure that there are chances to further their education - promote the establishment of programs like those in the US where dancers can take a course or two at a local university. It's not easy by any means, but many people earn a degree or a grad degree whilst working.
Also, this might be a wake up call to younger dancers who are considering foreign jobs to thoroughly educate themselves about visas regulations and how, as non citizens, they will be affected in terms of pensions and layoffs. A job in Europe might be a great thing if there aren't appropriate options in the US or Canada, but you may have less stability if there are layoffs. I know how it feels as I lived on student and work visas for almost 7 years before getting permanent residence in Canada. It's awful having to deal with the instability, stupid nonsensical and ever-changing regulations and the frustrating limitations, but it's a choice you make. Now, it is much harder in Denmark where dual citizenship is not an option, which leaves non-EU foreign dancers to either be forever second-class residents or have to give up their own citizenship to take on Danish citizenship.
As to the school - I'd be surprised if has much of an effect. The competition for company spots has always been fierce amongst professional school students, no matter the ballet school, and most students don't end up in professional careers, or at least in long term professional careers. Schools like SAB have never had any issues with finding top quality students despite the instability in dance jobs in the US. I think the RDB School will be fine as long as they continue to provide good quality education and ensure that students are able to effectively transition back into the regular school stream if ballet does not pan out. My understanding is that the level of education at the school is quite good now, with small classes sizes, though the older company dancers did go through the school when the academic school was quite weak.
That said, it drives me bonkers that the Danes don't appreciate what they have. The RDB has brilliant dancers, a terrific repertory, tickets starting at VERY reasonable prices, tons of opportunities to get to know the company (which would cost you a pretty penny in donations at most US companies) and three great, easily accessible theatres. I know ballet is not everyone's cup of tea, but it shouldn't be an issue to fill the seats most nights - there are more than a few of us stuck in ballet oases who would love to have such opportunities. Come on Danes - peel yourselves away from your TVs and stop fussing about how immigrants are harming your culture and actually get out and support your culture!http://politiken.dk/kultur/scenekunst/E ... vigtet-os/http://politiken.dk/kultur/scenekunst/E ... eater-ned/http://politiken.dk/kultur/scenekunst/E ... -en-bombe/