The New York City Ballet, having canceled its winter season after labor negotiations with its orchestra broke down on Monday, is attempting to salvage its Kennedy Center engagement Feb. 22 through March 13.
The Washington performances, to which an extra week has been added since the original commitment, are the only ones the company now has scheduled.
Martin Feinstein, executive director of the Kennedy Center, said yesterday he is confident the engagement will be fulfilled, and mail orders for tickets are now being accepted.
But the company's 95 dancers are no longer being paid, as of this week, and at best will receive no salaries until mid-February rehearsals, "if money can be found then," said company spokeswoman Leslie Bailey. At the moment, the dancers are attending an hour's company class a day, taking classes at the companys school, which are offered to them free, and "waiting to see what will happen," Bailey said.
Even if the dancers stay on, questions remain about the musicians who would be needed to play for them here.
Feinstein said that he has "a bona fide" contract with the pit orchestra that always plays here for all ballet and the Washington Opera Society and musicals. We've never used the New York Musicians anyway: we've always used our own. And to the best of my knowledge, they're going to play."
Feinstein said that there was a precedent, in that the pit orchestra had played for the musical, "Musical Jubilee," during last year's New York theater musician's strike.
However, Sam Jack Kaufman, president of the Musicians Union Local here, said that such a decision would have to be made by the American Federal of Musicians headquarters in New York. And John Hall, assistant to the president of the international, said yesterday that "I don't see how that can ever happen. If one of our locals finds an employer unfair," he said, it would be strike-breaking for members of another local to play for that employer and any who did so would face charges.
Local 802 in New York rejected the company's last proposal, which did not increase the guaranteed weeks of work from the present 25. The proposal offered a $100 weekly salary increase over a period of four years, and a reduction in the present seven performances a week to six in the fourth year.
During the five-week strike, the dancers went without pay for one week, and received rehearsal pay or other pay other weeks, part of which were spent filming ballets for their archives.
Choreographer George Balanchine is not weighing other job offers at the moment, said Bailey, but spent yesterday discussing how long the spring season announcements could be posponed, where out-of-town engagments might be feasible, and whether the State Department could be approached to keep the company on tour until its problems could be settled.
The New York City Ballet is scheduled to present 18 works during the first two weeks of the engagement here, including nine ballets new to the Kennedy Center, the Center announced late yesterday. During the final week, Balanchine's full-length production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," seen at the Center in 1974, is scheduled to be presented.