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Revamped retirement at Paris Opera Ballet. (News).

Times are changing for the 154 dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet. After more than a decade of negotiations, the first historic revamping of the company's retirement policy has been confirmed. The French government announced in February 2002 that it would officially put a controversial retirement age difference to rest, allowing both male and female dancers to benefit from the POB's attractive retirement package once they turn 40.

The change eliminated the extended five-year period required for male dancers, who in the past could only retire at 45. Dancers can now voluntarily opt for retirement at 40 and are obliged to halt their professional activities at age 42. The change confirms the assertion of the company's director, Brigitte Lefevre, who, in July 2001, when the heated issue brought the POB to a halt with a one-day strike, commented that a compromise would be "very good for the company."

The retirement fund provides dancers, the majority of whom entered the company straight out of the POB school, with a lifelong financial cushion, calculated on a sliding scale and hierarchically based on their salaries. These benefits provide a base for the dancers, the majority of whom increase that pay with a new job.

The POB's system is unique in the country. At the Lyon Opera Ballet, for example, dancers are hired on yearly, renewable contracts, providing them with the opportunity to halt their activity at will, generally between the ages of 35 and 40. Upon their departure, they, like all dancers, benefit from a maximum of three years of state-funded unemployment pay as they seek a new career path.

At Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, post-stage career assistance is provided by a new association, Avant Scenes, which was established in December 2000 to assist dancers with the heavy load of administrative tasks a job search requires.
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Author:Bauer-Prevost, Karyn
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Jul 1, 2002
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