volcanohunter

Joy Womack has left the Bolshoi

275 posts in this topic

She doesn't lose credibility by exposing crimes: she loses credibility by inconsistent statements, unrealistic expectations, deleting tweets, and expecting to drop a bomb and run. In the Dmitrichenko trial, Annadurdyev may have been telling the truth on the stand, but he was not a credible witness, at least by press reports. (The judge may later beg to differ and state that she based her ruling on his statements in court.). If witnesses aren't credible, why should the public believe them when there is something for them to gain?

And, yes, accusing an unidentified party of taking bribes is accusing someone of a crime. That's why Urin told her to go to the police with her accusations. Accusing management of a government controlled institution of condoning criminal activity could be accusing someone of a crime.

Chewing all this over, I keep coming up with one word. Accountability. Sure, she's 19 and still developing those brain cells but to paint her as an innocent player in this doesn't fit the picture. She screams "extortion" but when told to make a complaint, she refuses. She may have her reasons, if so then she should have stayed quiet, moved on and saved the story for a later time. She marries someone for her own convenience and then decides it's not what she wanted; so it seems she used a boy (who I hope knew what he had agreed to) for her own purposes. She makes inconsistent statements, including that she was a soloist instead of the fact that she was in the corps. Social media is not given "under oath" but it is in writing or video and very accessible so inconsistent statements only serve to destroy credibility. When you add all of this together, it's picture of a girl obsessed with a country, a culture and ballet company and her dream of taking all of those entities by storm- no matter what the cost or who is used in the process. And when it doesn't work out according to the dream, she accuses the organization of crimes. The organization should take that accusation seriously. Since she made the statement of her own volition (she wasn't threatened), she should be accountable for the accusation. If the accusations were proved, she would be venerated and the person(s) saying that to her should be held accountable. Her only action thus far has been to cry wolf to the press. Her parents should hold her accountable for her questionable life decisions. I'm assuming it was THEIR investment and for the girl to agree to that salary was a very poor return on that investment. Her teachers should have instilled in her the proper manner in which to conduct herself as a professional. In most cases, it's just not considered appropriate to "beg for solo roles" when you are a new dancer. It's not even expected that new dancers will be cast in these large companies. Her teachers should be held accountable or if they did try to instill professional behavior in her, then Womack should be held accountable for being unprofessional. As someone said earlier, there are lots of 18/19/20 year olds working professionally worldwide and the majority aren't begging for solos. They are just happy to be working! Her "fans" on the various social media outlets should hold her accountable for her conflicting statements. So, while her inconsistencies and unwise rants in the media may be a reflection of her still growing brain, the consequences can't be shoved under the rug because she's "still growing."

As far as accepting her and her parent's use of social media to promote her career, it may "branding" but it still puts a great deal of pressure on young, still developing dancers to live up to the hype. Maybe she felt the need to make the accusations to explain her lack of success because of how public her journey was from such a young age. Gee, wouldn't it have been less traumatic for this girl if she could have quietly moved on to another job to see if she fared better? Maybe she felt the need to make the accusations to explain her lack of success because of how public her journey was from such a young age. Maybe branding and using various social media outlets is a useful tool for those who have gained some experience, good reviews and are beginning to attract a fan base but I think it's a very tool dangerous for children, adolescents and young adolescent adults. These young folks should be allowed to try and fail much less publicly and failure is a part of learning, especially in this age group. I have empathy for this girl, she's been in the public eye (of her own choosing- but still...) and she's made unwise choices publicly and it seems as if the situation got out of control for her. I really hope that she "disappears" from the public eye for a while, goes back to the barre, learns from the experience and is able to find a situation that makes her and her employer happy.

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It is VERY wrong, but not surprising that Precious is being discriminated against for her skin color in Russia. But, I was surprised to see her speak to the press about it at this time, as I believe she graduates from the academy this spring? Who is advising these young women to speak to the press? Couldnt she have waited until after graduation and leaving the country ? What good will it do her, or anyone else there to bring it up now?

As for Ms Womack, I hope she returns home and pulls her life together. Get off the social media train-wreck and realistically assess her talents and goals.

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There is no excuse for racism and I am sorry she has to endure this. I have watched a few of her clips on youtube just now, but my eye is not trained enough to really critique her technique. I do sense a lack of turnout, which may also be an issue for her. I think the article is painting a picture of a brilliant dancer being overlooked solely due to her race. I don't doubt she is experiencing racism but I am not sure if there are technique issues going on as well.

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Is Precious also paying the $18K in tuition that Womack paid? (Just asking because it would add insult to injury if she were paying to have these racial slurs thrown at her.) If her allegations are true, the comment made to Precious is disgusting. The Bolshoi seems to have little sense of political correctness or sensitivity when it comes to race, as evidenced by their disturbing use of blackface in various Live In Cinema ballet broadcasts.

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We here in the US know that this is just not right. It's terrible but Russia isn't the USA. It's not exactly friendly to gay men either. Before going to a different culture, it does make sense to know a bit about what lies in store. Unlike Womack, Precious has already figured out that she will look elsewhere to start her career. She also said that she was warned about the probability/possibility of racial bias there and not to take it personally. She states that she's there for the training. Good words. Now she just needs to keep her nose to the grindstone and hand on the barre and take every bit of training she can. A good work ethic and focused attitude will take her far and might even change a few of those biased against her.

You can't control the wind but you can adjust the sails.

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I think every civilized person must know it's not right to tell a black person to rub the black off of themselves. Sorry, there's just no excuse for it and nobody shoudl try and make excuses for it.

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Is Precious also paying the $18K in tuition that Womack paid?

The article cites a figure of $21,000, a rough conversion from 680,000 RUB.

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I think every civilized person must know it's not right to tell a black person to rub the black off of themselves. Sorry, there's just no excuse for it and nobody shoudl try and make excuses for it.

Of course, it's stupidity. Of course, it's wrong. Hopefully, as Russia opens up to the rest of the civilized world, those sentiments will go away. My point was not to make excuses and I'm sorry if it came off that way. My point is that cultural differences exist. Some of those differences are abhorrent to other cultures. Certainly, asking someone to bleach off their color is sheer ignorance. Precious sounds to me like she's handling the slurs in the context of the culture in Russia and making the best of the situation. She may not change the entire culture's approach to racial difference but if she handles herself with professionalism and dignity, she may just change a few biases right there in that school. She's a ground breaker in her own right.

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I have very little sympathy for Joy Womack on this matter. Once she makes a serious accusation against the Bolshoi, then she should be prepared to follow through with it completely. She is trying to come across as both a forgiving person AND a pure victim in her media blitz. Womack comes across as passive-aggressive. If she had wanted to make her claims in such non-specific ways then she should have made them anonymously. That would not have bothered me as much as the self-serving way she is going about doing it.

What gives Womack, or any professional of any profession for that matter, the idea that you can just make a blanket accusation against your ex-employers and expect to walk away without blowback? Highly unprofessional and quite illegal depending on severity of accusations. For instance, what if it was a disgruntled, young surgeon at a world-renowned hospital, and she decides to quit or was fired from the hospital. Upon leaving, she publicly accuses the hospital team of surgeons of personally taking bribes from wealthy patients. But she refuses to give names of those unethical surgeons. There isn't a public relations director who wouldn't be threatening the ex- surgeon with lawsuits unless she provides specifics through official and/ or legal means.

Fact is, Bolshoi is a world-renowned company and one which is undergoing a hit to its brand. Maybe due to Bolshoi's diminished reputation as a workplace, Womack feels she can get away with trashing its reputation further on her way out? I do not understand why dancers or even young dancers such as Womack, should be excused from conducting themselves in professional manners. Just because they are dancers? Dancers are like other employees of big corporations or well-known brand names. If they choose to bring bad publicity to the brand, then they should be able to back their claims up. Otherwise they should expect to be challenged on their reasons for trying to damage the reputation of their former employer.

Womack tries too hard to become a sensation overnight. There is a recent trend of young dancers who haven't done much of anything but are already more famous than actual well-reviewed professionals. Many promote themselves on youtube, tumblr, and Facebook in distasteful ways, such as proclaiming or have others proclaim them to be the greatest of whatever or what-not. These girls are often still in school or just out of school, Womack certainly stands out in this regard, as does the Russian girl Xenia Zhiganshina and maybe Keenan Kampa to a slighter degree. It is not like they are already well-regarded soloist dancers trying to connect with fans by posting updates on their season and shows. Actually come to think of it, I already knew of Womack before watching her dance via videos on youtube, and that's through her other social media promotions. She has promoted herself as THE American at the Bolshoi Ballet for so long. Blaming the Bolshoi for her lack of advancement there may be the only way she has to save face, for not becoming a failure in the eyes of her many followers or fans.

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We from the US may know that it's wrong to tell someone to rid themselves of their skin color, but perhaps we might look at the lack of opportunity and employment for black dancers in the US before thinking so poorly of Russia, even if nothing is said directly to black dancers in the US.

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The same could be said of expecting sexual favors in exchange for favoritism in roles within the dance world (other realms too, but this is a dance forum).

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It can't, because sexual harassment, pressure to have sex for roles, voluntarily having sex for roles, and being pressured to have sex with sponsors is almost entirely invisible to the outside world, and so is nearly every way management enforces, doesn't enforece, or directly violates its own policy or ignores what happens under their watch.

We only know about it if someone sues or is brought to court, as happened to a Ballet Arizona dancer, who was raped by his sponsor for his education in Russia. The case was covered fairly extensively in the media during the trial.

The racial composition of companies and who is cast in what role are transparent. There's no conjecture about who is actually dancing.

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There was a day several years ago when grade school or high school students (or both) throughout St. Petersburg anyway, made a group statement against xenophobia (discomfort in regard to outsiders). It was heartening.


Although I'm light complexioned, I've always been treated very kindly in St. Petersburg (the only place in Russia that I've so far stayed in) and I have very warm feelings about this.

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We from the US may know that it's wrong to tell someone to rid themselves of their skin color, but perhaps we might look at the lack of opportunity and employment for black dancers in the US before thinking so poorly of Russia, even if nothing is said directly to black dancers in the US.

This is exactly the problem. You can try to enforce non-discrimination like we do here in the U.S., but then discrimination goes underground. In SOME ways it might be better to have it out in the open (although then you need a thick skin), because you at least know exactly what you are dealing with. Another point is that my experiences living in Western Europe (Germany and Austria) back in the late 80s to early 90s showed me that the concept of political correctness and being shocked by stereotypical depictions tend to be an American thing regardless if you think it should be worldwide or not. I could not explain to my German or Austrian friends why a candy bar wrapper with a black face on it was shocking to me. Their attitude was, "Get over it!" no matter how I explained it. They simply could not relate to my shock, and these were university students who were very educated and very liberal-minded and were not prejudiced from what I could tell.

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Forcing smoking out of public spaces has done a lot to discourage smokers from smoking in this country... I believe forcing discrimination out of public spaces has done a lot to discourage discrimination. Sure, some smokers have just gone underground, but a great number of them have quit altogether and many more have never gotten started...

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There was no reason for the Bolshoi to fire her: she's hardly unique in that regard.

But didn't the news media quote the Bolshoi as saying she was fired? Are employees at her level at will employees? Did they fire her for cause as a contracted employee? Did they give a reason?

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Turandot:

The PR strategy employed by the dancers (who were advised by theaters/impresarios/competitions/guidebooks?) already backfired. I imagine the hospital threatening to and/or suing the surgeon who quit would face quite a similar result (a pr backfire). Of course, the hospital would smear the surgeon, maybe even plant information or pressure workers to testify falsely against the one who left. However, then the surgeon would be forced by the hospital to defend himself, with the information he had gathered, or testify under oath about what had happened to him, and then the hospital would have a true pr nightmare. The better strategies would be to (a) be silent, (b) say the allegations are being looked into, or © say it is instituting measures to prevent similar wrongdoing.

ETA: Especially if the surgeon is, like Womack, a nobody, or "blip", to use Helene's description. That nobody really can't affect the powerful brand that is the Bolshoi.

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"Of course" the hospital *would* tamper with witnesses is an absurd generalization.

I said there was no reason to fire her. (That's what you quoted.) There is not a strong relationship between them not giving out roles and firing dancers. As she was on a contract, they simply could have left her contract lapse had they wanted.

She claims to have left. One of the articles in Links insists she was fired. The company hasn't addressed her claims or made a statement.

The Bolshoi has not used either of the PR strategies you've proposed.

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I have very little sympathy for Joy Womack on this matter. Once she makes a serious accusation against the Bolshoi, then she should be prepared to follow through with it completely. She is trying to come across as both a forgiving person AND a pure victim in her media blitz. Womack comes across as passive-aggressive.

Where did you read anything to give you the impression that she was trying to come across as a forgiving person? Do you equate moving on (from a situation involving threats, nonpayment, a violent environment) or leaving a nightmare with being forgiving? Is not going to the authorities, or not filing a lawsuit for the sake of being vindictive, the same as being forgiving?

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"Of course" the hospital *would* tamper with witnesses is an absurd generalization.

I said there was no reason to fire her. (That's what you quoted.) There is not a strong relationship between them not giving out roles and firing dancers. As she was on a contract, they simply could have left her contract lapse had they wanted.

She claims to have left. One of the articles in Links insists she was fired. The company hasn't addressed her claims or made a statement.

The Bolshoi has not used either of the PR strategies you've proposed.

You are right, i should have said "could" instead of "would".

Maybe when the person discussed in the article said she was fired, he was saying that she was "fired", or constructively discharged, by giving her little to no work, giving her little to no pay (including "forgetting" to pay her - sorry, I forget which article), having high level teachers taunt her (article of 2 days ago), having high level people threaten her (article 2 days ago). It is like when a landlord somehow forgets to put the heat on, or fails to repair a leak, or blasts the radio all night, and then tenant loses the war of attrition, and is effectively "evicted."

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If she wasn't paid, she should have left long ago. Professional dancers expect to be paid for their work. She seemed so intent on making her dreams come true that she didn't do what reasonable people would do. Or maybe she was so publicly invested in the dream to be the "First American principal dancer" that she just didn't know how to let go and save face. Right now, it seems that she is her own worst enemy. Continuing to make these accusations and broaden them without taking official action just makes her appear more immature, more whiny and more like a disgruntled employee (which she is). If she was being threatened and extorted then she should make an official complaint, otherwise, she should use your 1st suggestion of staying silent (as she said she would). She's gone from the Bolshoi, sour grapes doesn't help her and isn't going to change the environment there. The Bolshoi doesn't seem to care about her and this story is getting stale. She's not convincing, her own social media has inconsistencies that don't make her credible. The story will die (thankfully for her) and she needs to stop giving interviews about this and set about the business of finding a director that is brave enough to take an employee with a history of venting anger to the press and who will give her the chance to regroup and hopefully, will let her start with less hype as a member of the corps and earn solo roles instead of begging for them.

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Apparently some types of public assertions make management defensive, but not others.

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/us-ballerina-faces-discrimination-at-bolshoi-academy/489887.html?ask_mobile=Y

I haven't kept track of this whole drama, but...re: the previously unnamed source who suggested Womack to pay for a part or to get a sponsor to do so. Has he been publicly identified already...? According to the above article, it was Filin.

"Last week, Izvestia reported that Joy Womack, one of the first American ballerinas to graduate from the Bolshoi Academy, in 2012, and formerly a soloist at the Bolshoi Ballet, said that Filin told her to find a wealthy sponsor or pay $10,000 herself to perform on stage..."

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If she wasn't paid, she should have left long ago. ... Right now, it seems that she is her own worst enemy. Continuing to make these accusations and broaden them without taking official action just makes her appear more immature, more whiny and more like a disgruntled employee (which she is

1. She seems to have left quickly - in her first year.

2. Have you ever had a nonpaid bill, been asked for time to make payment, wait for collections? Maybe she trusted them, gave them a chance, waited like she was told, expecting to get paid, and then couldn't live on vapors anymore.

3. I always laugh when employers excuse all of their misbehavior based on label of "disgruntled" employee. Almost anyone who leaves a job is "disgruntled". If one is not paid and leaves, one is rightfully "disgruntled." If one is told to rub the black off one's face, one is rightfully disgruntled. If one is taunted and chased out, one is disgruntled. That doesn't mean the employer was not stealing her money and labor, enslaving her, tormenting her, prostituting her, discriminating against her, etc.

4. You are cavalier in ignoring the threats that were made against her. Complaining to the authorities, after being told to STFU, would not help that. It does not make what she said untrue.

5. If you were threatened, I assure you that you would be upset, to say the least. To criticize someone for being angry is strange.

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I have watched a few of her clips on youtube just now, but my eye is not trained enough to really critique her technique.

The above quote is taken from writer's comment about Precious Adams, NOT Joy Womack. I am responding to only that.

I do have a trained eye and watched all five videos (thanks for mentioning that there are videos). Miss Adams, while long-limbed and trim, not only doesn't have a strong enough technique, she is lacking in any Russian technique nuances that students of the Vaganova method have ingrained in them. Granted, the videos are over a year and half old, but she was still old enough to have attained, at the very least, the "Russian look". She dances, in her videos posted in early 2012, like a pretty good dance student with far to go.

I can also see, in the video with the Russian teacher coaching her in a Don Q variation, that the teacher is not very interested - more vexed than pleased - and rises from her armchair only a few times to walk toward Miss Adams, her student, in order to give corrections. We see the most attention given in the last run-through of the variation, ending with a curt curtsy (no smile, or God forbid, a hug) by the teacher to indicate the coaching session is finished.

Even in the quick port de bras the teacher demonstrates herself during one of her corrections, you see the very Russian-ness of her movement, which you never see in Miss Adam's movements. At that stage of development, technique among Bolshoi students is usually pretty much in their back pockets and they are working on artistry and fluidity of movement. Miss Adams performs a series of steps when she dances - in the way of many an American student who doesn't consider the variation as a whole or think about the meaning of the movements. And she struggles with many of the steps.

Without going into any other part of the issue, I offer my opinion solely on the quality of her dancing.

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