- Title: Paris Opera dancers perform in open-air to protest pension reform
- Date: 24th December 2019
- Summary: PUBLIC APPLAUDING/DANCERS BANNER READING (French): "PARIS OPERA ON STRIKE" VARIOUS OF PARIS OPERA BALLET DANCER, HELOISE JOCQUEVIEL, WAITING TO SPEAK TO REPORTERS (SOUNDBITE) (French) PARIS OPERA BALLET DANCER, HELOISE JOCQUEVIEL, SAYING: "We decided today with all the people working at the Paris Opera, technicians, musicians, machinery workers and dancers to present a small dance performance partly because we've been on strike since December 5th. And to show that we're against the pension reform which the government wants to implement but it's also a gesture towards spectators because we as artists are very sorry of what is happening to deprive hundreds of spectators from Christmas shows." VARIOUS OF DANCERS APPLAUDING DANCERS SALUTING (SOUNDBITE) (French) PARIS OPERA BALLET DANCER, HELOISE JOCQUEVIEL, SAYING: "In our working conditions, we started classical dance at the age of 8, it's a high-level sport so it's not possible (to work until the age of 64). We have recurring injuries from the age of 17 or 20 when you start dancing professionally and once you reach the age of 42 (retirement age for dancers) you already suffer from precocious arthritis, stress fractures, hernias, multiple operations, titanium hips in some cases, and so by the age of 42 it's hard to keep a level of excellence but 64 seems impossible."
- Embargoed: 7th January 2020 15:40
- Keywords: Emmanuel Macron France Palais Garnier Paris Opera ballet labour unions pension reform retirement strikes
- Location: PARIS, FRANCE
- City: PARIS, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Topics: Lawmaking,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA003BBC4W93
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Some 30 ballet dancers accompanied by musicians from the Paris Symphony Orchestra held a performance in front of the famous Palais Garnier opera house on Tuesday (December 24) to protest the French government's planned pension reforms, which would also affect workers in the performing arts.
Hundreds of people gathered to watch the 20-minute dance as the ballerinas twirled and pointed in their white tutus.
French workers receive among the world's most generous state pensions through a system divided into dozens of separate schemes. French President Emmanuel Macron's government says privileges for various categories of workers make it unfair, and wants a "points" system to treat contributions from all workers equally.
Professional ballet dancers in France retire at the age of 42 and are part of the special pension regimes. The Paris Opera recruits and trains children from the age of eight and up. Once they retire, they go on to do other jobs often related to dancing, a way to "have a decent standard of living".
Since the beginning of the strikes against the pension reform on December 5, 45 opera and ballet shows have been cancelled at the Paris Opera at the Bastille and Garnier halls, according to a press release by the CGT labour union's department dedicated to the performing arts.
The opera house said it had lost nearly 8 million euros in ticket sales since the start of the strike.
Ballet dancer Heloise Jocqueviel said they were truly sorry to deprive the public from the performances around the Christmas season but they have to defend their pension.
Employees and performers from the Comedie Francaise, a state-controlled theatre with a permanent troupe of actors, have also been on strike since December 5 with over 20 shows cancelled.
(Production: Lucien Libert and Pascale Antonie)
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