As the Royal Theatre has to cut 83 jobs, eight dancers are fired. Three dancers retires. It is not known yet what consequences the cost saving exercise will have for the large apprentice group knocking on the door.
A few month back it was announced that the Royal Theatre had to cut costs dramatically and lay off was a big part of the plan. Repertoires will be slimmer and 83 layoffs are shared between technical/admin and artists.
For the ballet community this is unwelcome news especially as the ballet is dancing so well and is pulling in more audience. One cannot help wondering what both the slimming of the repertoire with one programme and lay off will mean to a company with such special qualities and needs of dancers of different type and age. Regardless of the layoff the company will loose up to 24 dancers over the next five years due to the lowered retirement age of 40. But as the theatre management choise to implement the full cut off now, lay off in the ballet corps was unavoidable. It is of little consequence but the opera ensemble has been hit much harder. The dancers lead by spokes person Byron Mildwater have fought hard and constructive by suggesting pay cuts and other measurements and in the end the announce reduction of 100 employees is now down to 83.
It has been the responsibility of Ballet Master Nikolaj Hübbe to decide who should go. Two dancers reached the retirement age this year, Principal Jean Lucien Massot and corps dancer Thomas Flindt Jeppesen. Character dancer Jettte Buchwald is also retiring.
Of the eight other dancers the biggest name to let go is Principal Andrew Bowman. The New Zealander has been with the RDB for his full career, but he has been an infrequent dancer for most of Hübbe's tenure. Soloist Lesley Culver who is also laid off, would have reached retirement next season. Cecilie Lassen, who's original promising career has been marred with injuries has been given a retirement package. The remaining lay offs are placed on members of the corps, who have had little stage time and no featured roles. This group include two Danish girls and three foreign dancers.
It is not yet known how much the cost cutting will limit Hübbe possibilities to hire new talent. This season the largest aspirant class in many years will graduate and include significant talent. Hopefully Hübbe can argue that as the following class is down to two, he can hire more this year as there are exceptional talents and the group is the proof of the excellence of the school under Niels Balle's leadership.
Repertoire-wise the situation will force Hübbe to plan a repertoire with zero tolerance for mistakes. it will however be more difficult to cater for the full talent pool with fewer opportunities, and it will probably be an easier ride for the more mainstream talent than for the talents, who is more niche.