Ballerinas at the Paris Opera to Strike During Christmas Period

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Dancers of the Royal Opera Ballet in period costumes perform in the "Galerie des Glaces" as part of the so-called "Parcours du Roi" (The King's Journey) show - Copyright THOMAS SAMSON/AFP

Despite talks on improving the conditions of service for Ballet dancers at the Paris Opera, there seems to have been no change at all. Walking out during a performance in early December were the stagehands at the Paris Opera. This proceeded to the cancellation of two performances of ‘The Nutcracker’.

Doing the same on December 23, 25, and  31 are the ballet dancers at the Paris Opera who are pushing for the acknowledgement of their employee rights.

Matthieu Botto, Coryphée and a dancer at the Paris Opera explained that a package received by dancers is allocated for 6 hours of preparation instead of the 42 hours of preparation time consumed before a performance.

“A dancer has preparation time: makeup, dressing, undressing… Currently, a dancer spends around 42 hours per month preparing. However, the package allocated for this preparation time is equivalent to only 6 hours. This is no longer consistent with the reality of the dancer, we are therefore asking for regularisation of the package linked to this preparation time,” Matthieu stressed.

A similar strike was observed by the ballet corp in June over the same issues and still made no headway. Hence, the need to embark on another one to register their discontentment.

“Our demand was not really followed by the general management. They preferred to propose a reorganisation of the dancer’s day, with more rehearsals, finishing one earlier in the day. But this was not at all the desire for ballet at its core,” Botto told RadioFrance.

“Our goal is not to strike: we do not want to lose money either to the opera or to the employees, nor do we want the spectator to be unhappy,” Botto says. “We wanted a preventive consultation which did not take place and, unfortunately, at the Opera as in other structures, it always comes down to the balance of power.”

In 2019, 27 ballerinas instead of performing in the 2019 Christmas Eve show of ‘Swan Lake’, took to the steps of the Palais Garnier. This was in a protest against France’s President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial pension reforms.

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