The Buzz, 10-22: The
Ballerina Wants to Stop
Dorothy Opts out of Oz; The (Intermittents) Revolution will not
be Televised; Red-Faced at the Moulin Rouge
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2003 The Dance Insider
She had achieved what
every ballet dancer dreams of from the moment she tries on her first
pair of slippers: Principal status in one of the world's premium
ballet companies. The promotion came after a stunning opening night
for a new production of "Swan Lake" in which she created the role
of Odette. More accolades followed, including one of the country's
premium honors for entertainers in any medium, the Helpmann award.
But yesterday, just a year after artistic director David McAllister
named her a principal of the Australian Ballet, and at 28 years
old in the prime of her dancing life, Simone Goldsmith announced
she didn't want to dance anymore.
Goldsmith and Steven Heathcote of the Australian Ballet in Graeme
Murphy's "Swan Lake." Jeff Busby photo courtesy the Australian
Goldsmith "arguably the company's best-known female face," today's
Sydney Morning Herald reported that the ballerina's decision to
step down a the end of the current Sydney season "has shocked the
dance world, with many wondering why the young dancer, the photogenic
face of Graeme Murphy's 'Swan Lake,' and widely seen as one of the
most talented and promising stars to have emerged in recent years,
would be hanging up her pointe shoes, particularly so soon after
being appointed principal dancer."
The answer, according
to sources close to the ballerina (at presstime, the Ballet had
not responded to repeated requests for comment from Goldsmith and
McAllister), is simple: The ballerina simply wants to stop dancing.
Never mind that her
departure comes amidst other recent or imminent high-profile exits
at the Oz, including, reports the Herald, Margaret Illman, Felicia
Palanca, and another recently promoted principal, Joshua Consandine;
the decision does not reflect unhappiness with McAllister nor suggest
bigger problems at the company, Oz insiders say.
What about you, dancing
dance insider? Are there reasons you would stop, or have stopped,
dancing in the prime of your career? Drop the Buzz a line, why don'tchya,
at firstname.lastname@example.org. Meantime, to read
more about what Goldsmith has achieved and is giving up, check Suzanne
Davidson's DI review of her Odette by clicking here.
Speaking of the fame game, here in France, there's none bigger than
Star Academy. The Buzz doesn't have a television, but as near as
I can gather, the show is a rip-off combining the best (or worse)
of MTV's Real World and Star Search. Three to six million French
people turn in every Saturday to see who will get kicked off the
program. (And you thought they just sat in cafes wearing berets
and arguing philosophy.) The 3.5 million "telespectateurs" tuning
in this past Saturday found agitation of a different kind, as about
50 Intermittents du Spectacle -- or freelance performing artists
-- infiltrated the academy and unfurled a banner imploring viewers
to "Turn off your televisions." By the end of the evening, according
to the Paris daily Liberation Monday, six Intermittents were injured
and four in jail after a melee erupted with police and security
guards working for the broadcasting network, TF1.
The Intermittents, you'll
recall, have been more or less on strike since June, protesting
a plan by employers, acceded to by the government and some smaller
unions, that would drastically reduce their unemployment benefits
and make it harder to qualify for them. (The government and employers'
main argument: There's less money in the system.) Under the current
system, the Intermittents need to log 507 hours of work -- they
can be with multiple employers -- over a 12-month period in order
to qualify for 12 months of compensation. The new accord would give
them ten (performers) or ten-and-a-half (technicians) months in
which to accumulate the hours, and lower the compensation to eight
months. The Intermittents are pissed, and their main union, the
CGT, promised and delivered a long hot summer, forcing the shut
down of most of the major festivals across France.
The combination of factors
that enabled this summer's actions -- the threat of reconductable
strikes (with workers at each festival voting every day whether
to strike that night) and mostly sympathetic festival directors
-- has been largely absent this fall, with only two theaters throughout
France lowering their curtains. And the government has other, larger
concerns to deal with, the biggest being choler in Brussels that
the country continues to exceed the 3 percent deficit limit set
by the European Union. Politicians are also debating whether to
retain the 35-hour work week instituted by the last, Socialist government,
and many French are no doubt more concerned by a 20 percent rise
in cigarette prices than what many see as the needs of underemployed
To retain the public's
attention, the Intermittents have escalated their tactics; earlier
this fall, they occupied a mansion belonging to the actor Gerard
Depardieu. Depardieu, who doesn't live there, said they could stay,
but the city ordered police to eject them anyway, saying the building
was unfit for habitation.
The Star Academy siege
was an attempt to draw attention to what some see as the biggest
abuser of the Intermittents system -- the audiovisual industry,
which, together with the radio and cinema sectors, employs on average
35,000 of the 100,000 workers in the system. For example, the charges
go, a production house will hire a costumer for 40 hours, but only
report 20 hours, instructing the worker to file an unemployment
claim to cover the other 20 hours.
"In intervening before
six million (sic) telespectateurs, we touched a nerve," one of the
organizers of Saturday's action told Liberation. "This they cannot
accept. We only wanted to read our text and explain the reasons
for our movement."
The Intermittents had
unfurled their banner and were about to make their case, reported
Liberation, when the network pulled the plug and substituted another
popular show, Julie Lescaut, after a confrontation elsewhere in
the studio between another group of militants and police and security
guards left a window broken. Organizers insist they had already
decided to leave when the police arrested them.
"Two hours later," reported
Liberation, "the broadcast resumed and "the (Star Academy) candidate
Anne was eliminated, under the eyes of 3.5 million telespectateurs."
Speaking of labor actions, a Paris Court of Appeals has fined the
Moulin Rouge 10,000 Euros (about $12,000) plus 4,500 Euros in damages
for illegally refusing to hire people of color to work in its dining
room. Or, as the Paris newspaper France Soir put it in its headline
Saturday, "Whites in the dining room, Blacks (only) in the Kitchen."
In November 2000 (recounts
France Soir's Sandrine Baglin-Brandel), Abdoulaye Marega, a Frenchman
of Senagalese descent who had just completed a course of study in
Hotel work, learned that the dining room of the Moulin Rouge was
hiring. But when he called to respond to the ad, Marega says, he
was told "We do not take people of color in the dining room." When
he followed up with a personal visit to the famed Montmartre dance
hall, he was told the problem was that he didn't speak English or
Spanish. However, shortly after he arrived, a young Dutch person
who also didn't speak these languages was hired.
Marega alerted SOS Racisme,
which conducted a test, recorded by hidden cameras, sending equally
qualified white candidates and black candidates to apply for the
same job. The test confirmed Marega's experience. An inspection
later revealed that, in fact, no Blacks had been employed in the
Moulin Rouge's kitchen since 1962.
"The people from the
Moulin Rouge did not respect the rights of man," Marega told France
Soir after his victory. "My most beautiful victory is that since
my affair, two persons of color have been employed in the dining