A labor dispute forced the Minnesota Dance Theatre to use recorded music instead of a live orchestra for December’s holiday presentation of “The Nutcracker” ballet.
According to the union representing Twin Cities classical musicians, the sticking point wasn’t monetary, but artistic.
Phillip Brunelle, the Minnesota Dance Theatre’s orchestra director, arranged Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s famous score for 23 musicians. Union President Brad Eggen said his members balked because “no professional company has ever put on [‘The Nutcracker’] with less than 29” players. Tchaikovsky’s original composition calls for a full orchestra of at least 60 musicians.
Eggen claimed the union was “willing to present a proposal within their budget,” but said the ballet company wouldn’t meet with them to negotiate. Eggen said the musicians were “willing to work on the cheap, but it’s got to be artistically satisfying.”