volcanohunter

Joy Womack has left the Bolshoi

275 posts in this topic

There are plenty of young attorneys who conduct small trials with little or no prior experience in small firms. It's only in huge "white shoe" law firms that you have clients willing to pay for hordes of youngsters doing wheel-spinning research and reviewing documents.

Moving the conversation back to ballet, the situation is akin to a small regional company vs. the Bolshoi. The Bolshoi is like the white shoe law firm, where there are plenty of talented people hanging around waiting, begging, and pleading to move up into something more exciting within the firm. In a small regional company, just like a small law firm, people get important opportunities faster.

Share this post


Link to post

It's eery how similar Womack and Angelina Vorontsova's complaints about the Bolshoi were, except Vorontsova was getting far plummier roles and also had what she thought was the protection of both a boyfriend and an influential teacher.

Share this post


Link to post

Well stated Helene on all points.

puppytreats, on 20 Nov 2013 - 11:16 AM, said:snapback.png

Many people, including on these boards, seem to be angry with her for complaining about something bad, because it is not unique to her, and everyone else faced it.

Speaking for myself, I'm not angry when anyone complains about injustice or harassment; I have the utmost respect for those who identify these types of problems and work in whatever way to address them constructively. There is no evidence in the press that this was Miss Womack's intent. I have learned to be leery of all the self-promoting teens over the years, especially the ones who create an aura of being "the first," "the best," "the bravest," "the most unique life circumstance," etc. Many do this even before ever becoming a professional ballet dancer. Many "facts" can't be substantiated; it's just new age PR for aspiring dancers to appear as though they are ready to jump right to the top of all ladders. In this vein, I look for consistencies and inconsistencies to try to get a glimmer of reality. In Womack's case, her newest "twitter tantrum" and and facebook fuss just seems disingenuous. I just don't believe that she was so shocked to learn that roles are bought that she was compelled to walk out. So no, I'm not angry but I'm not drinking all the kool-aid either.

Share this post


Link to post

Circumstances could have intervened. Sometimes people take a principled stand, and then suffer the consequences, and then are beaten into submission. If someone complaints about sexual harassment, then is abandoned, blacklisted, defamed, can't work....she might eventually be silenced. It is a war of attrition. She might have been warned or threatened and then erased her twitter page. She might do something and then be frightened.

Yes, I agree, Urin is certainly a professional, experienced bureaucrat and manager with excellent advisors, skills and experience. He greatly outmatches a young girl taught to be obedient.

Share this post


Link to post

I don't consider a Twitter tantrum a principled stand or one that was likely to make Womack be taken seriously. That's still not how the adult world works, unless someone is hacked: deleting tweets is almost universally considered negatively. Since she then re-iterated to the press what she said in the tweets within a month, it's hard to argue the threat of retaliation was so overwhelming that she was forced into silence.

According to Womack, she left the Bolshoi of her own accord. (According to one article, she was fired.) According to several articles she was offered a spot at Kremlin State Ballet, which she refuses to confirm or deny. If true, that is hardly blacklisting. The Bolshoi has no sway over other companies, and even if the Russian authorities were to deny her a work visa for Russia, there's little that they can hold over every other company in the world. Even though in very different times the Paris Opera Ballet succumbed to government pressure not to hire Nureyev upon his defection, for fear of retaliation by the Russian government, the Royal Ballet hired him. The last person to hold that much influence over the ballet world was George Balanchine, and even with the fear of not getting permission to perform any of his ballets if they went near Farrell and Mejia, Bejart hired them anyway. These companies may not have been the dancers' first choices, but they were able to do incredible work, and Nureyev got to work directly with Ashton and Macmillan, which was hardly shabby. Womack isn't as important as any of those dancers.

Share this post


Link to post

Gosh, does any first year in a big firm do anything other than review documents in a conference room or sit in a library doing research? Who on earth would expect to let a first year, untrained and billing at the lowest rate, conduct a trial? I can't even imagine wanting to do such a thing.

Yet those first years often have three years of reviewing documents and sitting in a library doing research during their minimum 80-hour/week summer internships during law school, were editors of their Law Reviews, and were mentored not only by the best academic legal minds, but also by teachers with years of actual experience in some law schools. If they can't expect more than anonymous scut work as a first year, why would a newly minted member of the corps at the equivalents of Skadden, Arps, et. al. expect special opportunities?

Yes, this is why I find the statements about impatience and entitlement to obtain solo roles to be a bit too neat. Sure, no one likes sitting in the dungeon reviewing documents, and everyone sits around complaining and whining. Except for people who have connections and money, a special relationship with the client, or unusual experience and talent (e.g., a family of trial attorneys or a first year who had a prior career doing something significant), I did not think anyone in a big firm thought it would be any different. I thought people who wanted early trial experience typically go to the DA office or a small firm. Some people leave big firms to get more training, experience, and responsibility at an earlier stage in their career, but that is not typically a scandal, nor are the grumblings about it considered a scandal typically. Saying bad things about a prior employer would be imprudent, but is it even a bad thing to say one did not conduct a trial in year one or had to do grunt work?

Share this post


Link to post

It is usually considered a bad career move to complain about one's employers through social media that can be seen by one's employer. (There are companies that ask potential employees for their Facebook passwords -- a breach of the Facebook's T&C's -- so that they can read private posts, while Twitter is all public-facing.) If a first year went to the NYT to say that the only reason he or she wasn't put on a trial was that s/he was expected to pay $10K for the opportunity, I would think his or her employer would consider that bad enough to fire the first year and possibly respond through the courts. Being interviewed for an article on what a lawyer's first year was like, not so much. Womack didn't just complain about having to stand on one foot for six minutes during Act II of "Swan Lake" in the course of a standard interview. She made a number of accusations to the press about her employer.

Share this post


Link to post

I keep wondering if any of the personnel at the US embassy was consulted by, or could have helped, Womack about the tax issues or how things work in Russian institutions. It's hard to believe that she was so blinded by her art that she was only listening to people on the inside and never went for a reality check from anybody without a stake in the Bolshoi Ballet.

Share this post


Link to post

She (or, more likely her parents) should have worked out the tax issues and payment terms before she ever agreed to work there.

Share this post


Link to post

It is usually considered a bad career move to complain about one's employers through social media that can be seen by one's employer. (There are companies that ask potential employees for their Facebook passwords -- a breach of the Facebook's T&C's -- so that they can read private posts -- while Twitter is all public-facing.) If a first year went to the NYT to say that the only reason he or she wasn't put on a trial was that s/he was expected to pay $10K for the opportunity, I would think his or her employer would consider that bad enough to fire the first year and possibly respond through the courts. Being interviewed for an article on what a lawyer's first year was like, not so much. Womack didn't just complain about having to stand on one foot for six minutes during Act II of "Swan Lake" in the course of a standard interview. She made a number of accusations to the press about her employer.

Yes, which is why I find it odd that people then say her problem was that she was a small fish in a big pond, because it is not a big deal to complain about doing grunt work. But if they want to sling mud against her accusation about the $10K, to make her unlikable and decrease her credibility, then it makes more sense that they would say, "Well, she only had to pay because she is a small fish", because this might deflect attention from the illegality of the demand for payment. Their suit would likewise be an unwise strategy (but a frequent s.o.p.) if she had said something truthful about her employer's demand for the $10K, since truth is a defense to a claim of defamation.

Share this post


Link to post

I keep wondering if any of the personnel at the US embassy was consulted by, or could have helped, Womack about the tax issues or how things work in Russian institutions. It's hard to believe that she was so blinded by her art that she was only listening to people on the inside and never went for a reality check from anybody without a stake in the Bolshoi Ballet.

Catherine stated above that the contracts describe taxes withheld. I wonder if this happens in any other country. I also wonder why a Russian employer would withhold U.S. taxes, regardless of any obligation on behalf of the taxpayer.

Share this post


Link to post

But if they want to sling mud against her accusation about the $10K, to make her unlikable and decrease her credibility, then it makes more sense that they would say, "Well, she only had to pay because she is a small fish", because this might deflect attention from the illegality of the demand for payment. Their suit would likewise be an unwise strategy (but a frequent s.o.p.) if she had said something truthful about her employer's demand for the $10K, since truth is a defense to a claim of defamation.

No one is saying she was told she had to pay $10K because she was a small fish in a big pond. Many of us have said that the reason she wasn't given prominent roles as a first year corps member was because she was a small fish in a big pond, and it is expected that small fish in big ponds get prominent roles slowly, as a rule. This was in response to her complaints that she was not being given roles fast enough and her action of asking a higher up how to get "prominent" roles; no one is putting words in her mouth that she was impatient.

No one is saying that she wasn't told she had to pay $10/K to get a role -- in some accounts, because she is an American -- or that she wasn't told to get a sponsor to lobby on her behalf if she wanted better roles. There is no proof that this person was making a serious rather than cynical comment, since she doesn't give context, and there is no proof that if this person was serious that this person was right. (Since there are no other Americans other than Hallberg, who presumably doesn't have to pay for roles, the going rate for Americans would be rather new.) Assuming that she would no longer respect this person, had he or she been the one soliciting the funds, her statement is hearsay anyway, since according to her own story, this made her leave in disgust, and she didn't pursue it.

The only way this can be proven one way or another is through an investigation: it is a rare person, let alone network of people, who extorts money and deposits it in an untraceable offshore account, for which there is no paper trail or for whom there is no hint of conspicuous consumption. If those sums were passing hands on a regular basis, there would be a trace of it, even if no one who was a party to the transaction -- which she has not said she was -- was willing to come forward to give detailed accounts of how they participated/were victimized in this illegal extortion.

No one is saying that a man didn't offer to be her sponsor in exchange for sex.

Catherine stated above that the contracts describe taxes withheld. I wonder if this happens in any other country. I also wonder why a Russian employer would withhold U.S. taxes, regardless of any obligation on behalf of the taxpayer.

The US is one of the few countries on the planet that requires its citizens to file tax returns regardless of where they are resident. The other country cannot determine whether the US citizen is liable for taxes: it is up to the citizen to file a return and show the US government that he or she owes no tax. (Up to a certain amount of specific types of income is non-taxable; above that amount and for other types of income, the citizen has to claim a tax credit against taxes paid in the other country[ies], and if the US tax is higher, pay the difference to US Treasury). Other countries withhold taxes from US citizens through tax treaties.

A French citizen, for example, working and resident in Russia does not need to file a return in France for monies earned in Russia, because, by definition, s/he doesn't owe any, and hence, there is no agreement between Russia and France to enforce any withholding on behalf of the French government.

Share this post


Link to post

[from writer]

All sorts of professions have this same type of problem. Take a big New York law firm for example. Every attorney there would have been top of her class at an Ivy league law school. You think she's going to be doing high profile trials after her first year? That doesn't mean she isn't smart or has the potential to grow, but it means she is a first year and will be treated like all the other first years in the firm.[/color]

Gosh, does any first year in a big firm do anything other than review documents in a conference room or sit in a library doing research? Who on earth would expect to let a first year, untrained and billing at the lowest rate, conduct a trial? I can't even imagine wanting to do such a thing.

All of the dancers in that company bust their butts day after day, year after year. The reality is the vast majority of dancers will spend their entire career in the corps. Dancers that were all likely the star of their own graduation performance. That goes for every single company in the world, big or small. Is that fair? no. Is it wrong she desires solos? Not at all. But there aren't enough roles and too many dancers.

Share this post


Link to post

Is it wrong she desires solos? Not at all. But there aren't enough roles and too many dancers.

I think part of the issue may be that she was treated differently almost as soon as she was put in the company, to hear her tell it. Around 21:00-23:00 of the Ballet Initiative podcast are quite revealing: she describes it "almost being harder" because she wasn't put in the corps, but was given soloist roles immediately.

It's possible that they didn't cast her in the roles they'd asked her to learn, but it seems it wasn't quite a case of her waiting to be noticed in the back of the corps.

Share this post


Link to post

And while we are speaking of ethics, she admitted to entering into a sham marriage. Not as bad as demanding sexual favors or bribes, but it seems like she was willing to take extreme steps.

As a side note, under US law entering into a sham marriage to obtain legal status is considered immigration fraud and is a federal crime. I don't know anything about Russian immigration law, but I am concerned that she is advertising the fact that she entered into an marriage for the sole purpose of obtaining legal status.

Share this post


Link to post

I had posted this on the sister site, but never got

A direct response and thought I would re-post here:

The question that keeps coming to my mind is this: She danced a solo role in Nutcracker (Spanish) and it was not reviewed particularly well by friends I have in Moscow who I trust and are professionals. I assume she didn't pay $10,000 to dance this role??? So was the supposed bribe asked for after the unsatisfactory performance or in conjunction with it? While I have a lot of respect for Joy Womack, somehow this just doesn't make much sense to me. Same with her marriage. Maybe it was a sham, but photos she herself posted on Facebook looked very different. Maybe there is something being lost in translation. I know from my own dealings in ballet that things are not always on the up and up, but blaming an originization for choices you made seem childish. If she did marry for citizenship, she had a choice, she wasn't forced. I think, unfortunately for her, she was young and immature and not completely prepaired to deal with the consequences of her own decisions. Just my opinion.

Share this post


Link to post

Part of establishing that a marriage isn't a sham is having a trail of photos, documents, notes, etc., and social media makes that very easy. She married the son of Filin's assistant*, someone she knew, and someone with whom she might have been friends.

In more formal and less digital times, it would have taken more work and a big phone bill.

* See correction below. She married a former student.

Edited by Helene
So that someone reading it for the first time wouldn't be misled by my mistake

Share this post


Link to post

Part of establishing that a marriage isn't a sham is having a trail of photos, documents, notes, etc., and social media makes that very easy. She married the son of Filin's assistant, someone she knew, and someone with whom she might have been friends.

In more formal and less digital times, it would have taken more work and a big phone bill.

And a documentary all about your love doesn't hurt: http://searchingperfection.com/

I hope for the boy's sake he was in on the ruse :(

She's blown her cover now, but maybe it doesn't matter as much under Russian law (US law has no statute of limitations for prosecution of immigration fraud, let's hope this is not the case over there).

This whole situation is puzzling. I had no idea it was the son of FIlin's assistant. So does this mean she is aligned with him? I thought was was on the Tsikaridze side. I can't keep up with this.

Share this post


Link to post

I thought the son married Smirnova. That is in the testimony on Ismene Brown's blog, anyway:

http://www.ismeneb.com/Blog/Entries/2013/11/13_Trial_day_5__accuseds_pal_says_police_beat_him_to_get_statements.html

Filin's personal assistant, Dilyara Timegarzina...dismissed allegations that Filin was operating a casting couch with ballerinas, including rising star Olga Smirnova - who, as she said, is in fact married to her own son.

Share this post


Link to post

Does anybody know the veracity of whether or not Womack was given a red diploma and how common that is at the Bolshoi? Who else might have gotten one and how is that dancer faring?

Share this post


Link to post

Me either- I thought that Olga Smirnova was married to the son of Filin's assistant.

Share this post


Link to post

Olga Smirnova married Dilyara Timegarzina's son this fall. Joy married a fellow dance student last year named Nikita. None of these people are in tiskaridize's camp.

Share this post


Link to post

Thank you Jayne, duffster, and macnellie for the correction. I've been reading more on the Bolshoi than I ever wanted to know, and I got the two issues (attack on Filin and trial reports vs. Womack leaving the Bolshoi) scrambled.

I've made a correction in the original post (struck out the incorrect info and added (*) the correct info, so that no one is misled by my mistake. My apologies to writer.

Share this post


Link to post

That's no problem, Helen. There is quite a lot going on at the Bolshoi.

Is it common for teenagers to marry in Russia? I understand Joy needed a visa, but Smirnova is obviously a Russian citizen.

Here is the latest interview with Joy:

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/culture/la-et-cm-bolshoi-ballet-bribe-joy-womack-20131120,0,7437189.story

She seems to clear up some things. It has become apparent to me that the adults around her were leading her on. Some were trying to be nice (letting her dance on her birthday) but they could not shield her from the harsh realities of the theater.

I agree that if Bolshoi were a law firm, it would be a top white shoe law firm. However, it is not necessary to work in one to be a great attorney. Same with Joy, she can find success in a different company. She seems very resilient and I am sure she will find her place. What a person wants at 18 is usually not what they want at 25. This is a huge blow for her but I think in the end it will work out.

ETA: Her version of her Nutcracker solo is that she did well, some reports are that she did not. We'll really never know unless we can find an uninterested witness.

Share this post


Link to post

Does anybody know the veracity of whether or not Womack was given a red diploma and how common that is at the Bolshoi? Who else might have gotten one and how is that dancer faring?

I wondered the same thing. The only thing a google search shows up is on her springform site; she states that she got the red diploma and goes on to state that Nastia Limenko also received a red diploma. She also states that Nastia Limenko went to the Stanislavsky. The Academy's Facebook page doesn't seem to list the graduates or honors for them but there are several entries from a Womack- dad? with photos and videos of her performing what looks like the lead in the school's performance of Paquita. Perhaps someone who understands Russian or has access to the school announcements from JW's graduating class could confirm her statements but a simple google search only shows statements in social media.

Share this post


Link to post