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Joffrey Ballet reaches tentative contract agreement

Updated: October 23, 2011 12:22AM

The dancers of the Joffrey Ballet and the company’s management have reached a tentative agreement on a newcontract.

The dancers are expected to officially ratify the new deal next week, and the company’s fall season — the company premiere of the full-length ballet, “Don Quixote” — will be presented at the Auditorium Theatre in October as planned.

Less than two weeks ago, the company sent a letter to its dancers threatening to cancel future engagements, and telling them they had to clean out their lockers at the Joffrey Tower by July 14, unless issues of salary and rehearsal hours were hammered out.

Now, according to the Joffrey’s executive director, Christopher Clinton Conway, the lockout of the dancers has been lifted. And with a simple majority vote by the dancers, which is set to happen on an as yet unspecified day next week, a formal agreement that assures a minimum 10 percent raise over a five-year contract (with the salary increase front-loaded into the first four years) will be approved.

“The dancers will be back in class on Monday, and rehearsals will begin, as planned, on July 25,” Conway said. “And what’s great is that we have a five-year settlement rather than our usual three-year one.”

The dancers, whose average salary is about $40,000, work on one-year contracts.

The agreement must technically be approved by the American Guild of Musical Artists, the union representing the 42 dancers and two stage managers of the company. Attempts to reach the union were consistently unsuccessful.

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