My sympathies tend to go with labor. Not this time. The gala makes a critical difference to the company's finances; so does the upcoming holiday run of Nutcrackers. Union president Bill Moriarty told dance writer Paul Ben-Itzak, "You try to schedule these kinds of events so they give you the best leverage."
The musicians wanted a 4.5 percent raise; management offered 3.3 percent (reportedly more than the dancers' last contract provided). But among the issues that couldn't apparently be resolved was this startling one: NYCB management wanted to "obtain increased commitment from our orchestra members by introducing standards of attendance, designed to assure that our musicians appear at performances, and that they [and presumably their subs] first rehearse the music they perform." Imagine! Eventually management even conceded that these rules would apply only to new musicians; veterans could go on not showing up (they don't get paid for rehearsals they don't attend).
Danspace St. Mark's
Imogen Cunningham on the Dance
John Stevenson Gallery
338 West 23rd Street
Through December 11
In the best of all possible worlds, members of the ballet's orchestra would consider themselves part of a team. That management decided to insert the attendance provision into a contract suggests that musicians' no-shows have increased to a danger level. Maybe that's why the sound coming out of the pit has deteriorated so significantly since the orchestra's glory days under conductor Robert Irving.