Syracuse City Ballet dancers raise concerns as the company navigates challenges just weeks before the Nutcracker performances.
The Syracuse City Ballet (SCB) finds itself embroiled in controversy as at least five full-time dancers have been terminated just two weeks before the scheduled run of the beloved production, The Nutcracker. Reports indicate that these firings follow a lengthy period of dissatisfaction among dancers, who had been seeking changes in working conditions and artistic direction for over a year.
Five out of the company’s eight dancers initiated a one-week strike, citing a hostile work environment, according to ABC affiliate WSYR-TV. The termination of these dancers jeopardizes the upcoming four performances of The Nutcracker, a significant revenue source for the central New York ballet company.
Cara Connolly, one of the terminated dancers, highlighted concerns about the importance of trusting leadership in matters that affect the well-being of the dancers. “Our bodies are our livelihood. It’s important that we feel comfortable to voice concerns and ask questions so we don’t get hurt,” she stated.
Nearly all of the Syracuse City Ballet dancers have been fired after going on strike for a number of reasons, including unsafe working conditions. Now, there is concern about a possible ripple effect over the "Nutcracker" in Syracuse.https://t.co/8KUcwE1jyQ
— NewsChannel 9 (@NewsChannel9) November 22, 2023
In response to the accusations, SCB’s board president, Jennifer Tifft, addressed the issue of an “unsafe work environment” and mentioned an investigation by an independent HR expert. Tifft clarified that the initial complaint focused on one artistic staff member, who was subsequently placed on leave.
Acknowledging the upheaval, Tifft stated that the board had made “meaningful changes” by placing the artistic director on paid leave. Despite the terminations, she reassured the public that the upcoming performances would proceed. Two of the striking dancers have reportedly returned to work, and temporary dancers, including some from Alaska and California, will be brought in to ensure the production continues as scheduled.