The atmosphere of gloom surrounding the American Ballet Theatre's labor dispute with its dancers -- now into its seventh week -- dissipated yesterday as sources on both sides suggest that a settlement is near.
A bargaining session between the company and the dancers' negotiating team -- the first in several weeks -- was scheduled for last night, and dancers' attorney Leonard Leibowitz said before last night's negotiating session that "we hopefully will come out with something tonight." He could not be reached later. Joyce Moffatt, ABT's general manager, said after the meeting that "there's been progress." She declined to elaborate.
A senior ABT official, who asked not to be named, said that management's so-called "final offer" is no longer final. That offer, made last month, included an approximate 32-percent package wage and fringe benefits increase over a three-year period.
The official said that ABT must soon decide whether to cancel its upcoming cross country tour and that the company is running out of time in which to stage its new production of "La Bayadere," which is to have its first American performance during the ABT's scheduled Kennedy Center appearance in April. The source anticipated a settlement this week, saying "You can't have a ballet company without dancers."
ABT's fall season was scheduled to begin in Washington on Dec. 4.