Joffrey Ballet planning to lock out dancers

July 4, 2011
WBEZ
Lynette Kalsnes

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Chicago's Joffrey Ballet is planning to lock out its dancers this week over labor negotiations.

The Joffrey sent a letter to its dancers telling them to clean out their lockers and turn in their keys by Thursday. Contract negotiations started in January, and the contract with the American Guild of Musical Artists expired last week.

Executive Director Christopher Clinton Conway said the company's had difficulty getting response from the union representative. He said the company will have to start cancelling performances if there's no progress by the end of the month, though he remains optimistic.

"The largest point still under negotiation is the move by Joffrey to a 30-hour rehearsal week, which is the minimum level that any other major dance company actually in the world, any AGMA company in America, currently offers," he said, adding that the Joffrey's current 25-hour rehearsal week gets in the way of attracting choreographers and dance professionals.

The union, AGMA, could not immediately be reached for comment.