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NYC Ballet Orchestra Strikes

November 24, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) _ The two little ballerinas were all dressed up with nowhere to perform.

Thirteen-year-olds Sarah Satow and Isabel Vondermuhll were scheduled to take part in the Opening Night Gala at Lincoln Center but couldn’t when the performance was canceled after the New York City Ballet Orchestra went on strike Tuesday.

Sarah’s eyes welled with tears as she stood outside the theater bemoaning her lost opportunity.

``The gala was such a big deal, now what are they celebrating?″ she asked.

``It’s really disheartening to know we were supposed to perform,″ Isabel added.

The ballet’s management announced the cancellation just as the 7:15 p.m. performance was scheduled to start at Lincoln Center’s State Theater, saying that it ``deeply regrets the decision of its orchestra to institute a work stoppage.″

Union spokeswoman Judy West said the labor action also could affect performances of ``The Nutcracker,″ one of the centerpieces of the holiday season, set to begin on Friday.

About 25 musicians picketed the theater Tuesday. Theatergoers were turned away at the door.

Bill Moriarty, president of Local 802 of the Associated Musicians of Greater New York, said talks had broken off earlier Tuesday without significant progress.

Management said it had offered a 3.3 percent raise in the first year of a new contract. West said the key issue is management demands for more stringent orchestra attendance.

The most recent contract did not specify the number of rehearsals or performances musicians must attend. The company wanted to institute a two-tiered system that would demand a set number of appearances from newly-hired musicians, although not for veterans.

The union last struck in 1976.

The strike comes after Radio City Music Hall musicians agreed on a new contract Thursday, averting a disruption of the annual ``Christmas Spectacular″ show.

Also last week, stagehands at 23 Broadway theaters voted to authorize a strike, threatening to shut down popular shows that include ``Miss Saigon,″ ``Chicago″ and ``Fosse″ at the start of the busy holiday season.

Negotiations were scheduled for next week and no strike action was planned before then.

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