Saturday, March 15, 2008

More On Boston Ballet Layoffs

Unable to dig itself out of debt, Boston Ballet has eliminated nine jobs, cut back performances, and finally taken the dreaded step of laying off dancers.

more stories like thisThe cash-strapped organization confirmed this week it will reduce its stable of dancers from 50 to 41, which one ballerina, Melanie Atkins, said would be too few to make it a top-tier company.

Richard Johnson, the company's former chief financial officer, said yesterday that the layoffs took him by surprise.

"I know they've been having financial challenges but I didn't know it was that bad," said Johnson, who now holds an equivalent post with the Washington National Opera. "That's a major step."

The news comes less than a week after executive director Valerie Wilder announced she will step down at the end of the season.

Wilder said yesterday that her exit was not connected to the ballet's financial problems, and noted that laying off members of the troupe was not a decision made lightly.

"Everyone else has participated in these measures in enormous ways," said Wilder. "As long as possible, we kept dancers out of it."

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