You may remember a little while ago a short story regarding the Atlanta Ballet and a dancer in a Panda costume tumbling from the stage into the open, and empty, orchestra pit!
No? What do you mean you forgot about it? Anyway, it would appear that the hammer has fallen on said ballet company with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fining the company $3,500 for failing miserably to protect their dancers from harm. Or words to that effect.
Atlanta Ballet, somewhat ridiculously, is stating that it will fight the decision because;
"The condition and safety of the environment in which our dancers perform has always been of paramount importance to Atlanta Ballet." said spokesman Jeff Al-Mashat.
Mr Al-Mashat goes on;
"We continually evaluate our safety measures, which are consistent with best practices for major dance companies throughout the country. We will be contesting the OSHA citation, while at the same time continuing to review our procedures to assure that the Atlanta Ballet is a leader in industry safety."
If Atlanta Ballet is a "leader" in industry safety we can only imagine the carnage going on in the companies that trail them in the league table of dance companies that may or may not let their dancers fall into really big holes!
Let's get one thing absolutely clear. If one of your dancers falls off the stage wearing a Panda costume they can barely see out of and seriously injures her back in the process then you most assuredly are not showing any concern whatsoever for their health and well being.
If you were, as a company, looking out for your dancers then the orchestra pit would have been closed and there would have been no gaping hole for the dancer to fall into. Gaping holes, dark stages, and vision restricted dancers are a sight-gag set-up worthy of the cheapest sitcom.
The only thing that is certain here is A: Atlanta Ballet are too cheap to have an orchestra, B: Atlanta Ballet's administration are too cheap to pay someone to close the orchestra pit and C: Atlanta Ballet are too cheap to employ a spokesperson that isn't an idiot!
As to the curious and artistically inept decision to have Panda Bears in the 'Nutcracker' in the first place? Only history will judge the Artistic Director and we fear that judgment will be harsh and unforgiving!