Opening AGMA to freelancers—while complex—is conceivable. Photo via Thinkstock.
Now more than ever, dancers are speaking up against abuses of power that have long been considered foregone conclusions. In many cases, these dancers are backed by a union and protected by solidarity. Union representation has traditionally been the purview of established companies, but many dancers working today are freelancers. As dance employment shifts away from the company model, how can independent artists advocate for themselves? Could unionizing ensure them fair treatment? Is a union for freelance dancers even feasible?
A scene from Massenet's Cendrillon. Photo by Ken Howard, Courtesy Met Opera
The last place you might expect to find a graduate of New York University's decidedly contemporary dance program is onstage at the Metropolitan Opera House, scuttling around in a single three-inch heel, a massive petticoat and an ostentatious wig. But 2016 Tisch Dance graduate Andrea Pugliese can be found doing exactly that in The Metropolitan Opera's new production of Cendrillon, running April 12–May 11.
It might not seem like the most obvious fit for someone more accustomed to concert dance, but booking an opera job has major benefits—the dancers are unionized, which means good pay, and clear guidelines for rehearsal and performance schedules and conditions.
Last month, Buzzfeed News confirmed 17 instances of groping or sexual misconduct by patrons of the immersive theater show Sleep No More.
Having experienced the show for the first time just a week before the story broke, I can't say I was surprised by the accusations.
No, I'm not bitter because of the more common complaints I've heard from patrons: I didn't get lost in the dark halls of the McKittrick Hotel, and I don't care that I didn't get any of the coveted one-on-one scenes. Instead, at every step of my two and a half hour journey through the show, I felt that the safety of the performers—and of the audience—was being compromised for the sake of an experience that just wasn't worth the risk.
Everything was not business as usual at Tuesday's Kennedy Center gala for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. The party was missing an integral piece of the annual celebration: the dancers themselves.
The news was shared online yesterday via the Washington Post, which reports that the dancers are in the middle of renegotiating a three-year contract with their union, the American Guild of Musical Artists.