volcanohunter

Joy Womack has left the Bolshoi

275 posts in this topic

...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.

Yes, Womack is her worst enemy. If she were a young Hollywood wannabe actress, this would be the perfect time for her publicist to announce that she is entering rehab for delusions of (ballet) grandeur.

Yesterday, the Daily Mail UK published a big and colorful article with the headline "First American at the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet leaves claiming she was told to pay $10,000 bribes just for the smallest roles". Only a few hours later, they published a correction, in which the word "leaves" was replaced with "QUITS", in capital letters. One can only wonder who found it so important to get this word replaced.

Also yesterday, the New York Times published a correction in regard to their Womack article

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/22/pageoneplus/corrections-november-22-2013.html?_r=0

finally pointing out that "she was one of the first Americans — not the first — to join the Bolshoi after graduating from its training academy in Moscow"

This was high time because I have been reading for years that there were other Americans before her at the Academy who kept quiet because they didn't want to make a big fuss over this.

Yes, she should go back to the barre and reassess her abilities and her goals and learn humility. I find it very sad when you call yourself "A dancer for Jesus" and always mention your faith but use this in the way of "As He is FOR me, who dares to be AGAINST me" - but that's another story.

In my very personal opinion, Womack's big dream collapsed within two minutes and she is unwilling to accept this fact. She started her first season with the Bolshoi in September of 2012 as a corps member who was promised to get the chance to dance a solo part. After rehearsals, the Bolshoi opened the new season in November, and on December 31, 2012, Womack got her solo chance with the Spanish Doll in The Nutcracker. And with this performance, it went all down the drain.

She claims she did well, even offering the world a triple fouetté where only a double was required. But this was not what mattered. The PERFORMANCE mattered, her dancing. And she must have failed in the eyes of those responsible. Again, in my very personal opinion, this was the moment when Womack should have woken up. But she didn't. And she still hasn't. And this cannot be excused with a still not fully developed frontal lobe. Dancers are used to having fans from a very young age. Being the best in your class at your local ballet school makes you the idol for the little ones that dream of dancing like you. This can become an addiction and it seems to be one in Womack's case. So, maybe, going to "rehab" is not such a bad idea...

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

No, according to her, she accepted a job at the Bolshoi right after she graduated in 2012 (2012-2013) season and returned for the 2013-2014 season. If she wasn't being paid, why on earth would she return?

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.

It sounds like she was on some sort of production contract where payment is due only upon being cast, rehearsing and dancing in a production. According to her, she only danced 6-7 times while at the Bolshoi. If she was only paid as a production contract employee, she probably was running on vapors. Putting emotions and dreams aside, no money means it's time to move on. Production contracts aren't unusual in large companies. POB among others award these. I've known a couple of dancers trained other than the POBS who dreamed of dancing at POB, accepted the contract and then weren't used enough to stay and moved on, quietly. If she was on a regular contract and wasn't paid regularly, then after the 2nd missed payment, she should have lodged a formal complaint, requested her pay and left with her training and company affiliation on her resume.

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.

She wasn't enslaved. She could have and probably should have walked away long before now. If she felt tormented, no one was holding her there. If you insist that she was prostituted, look at the facts, it seems that she prostituted herself to become a Russian citizen. If she was discriminated against for being American, she must have known the bias going in... she had been in Russia for 3 years.

ETA: withholding taxes is not stealing. (It might feel like it, but that's another conversation!)

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.

I am not being cavalier, accusations of these sort of are highly disturbing to anyone who loves ballet, has a family member in the field or is or was in the field themselves. Without making a formal complaint no one can make an informed judgement about her statements.

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.

The criticism is not that she is angry, it's that she's inconsistent, unwilling to follow through with her accusation and instead of trying to keep the hype going, just needs to move on and be quiet unless she's willing to see the accusation through. The press is not the place to file a complaint.

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

She said she left because she would not use her body or her money to get parts.

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.

She did not claim that she never received payment for her contract. In fact, she said she was paid, but that 30% withholding was taken from it.

She said she did unpaid, unofficial work because she thought it would get her exposure in parts.

Many young dancers from NYCB gained invaluable one-on-one coaching and experience for taking part in Jacques d'Amboises little tours. (I've never heard these were unpaid, but they likely paid only a small amount, given the venues where they performed.)

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.

You can laugh all you want, but it's always been an effective strategy.

Complaining does not make what she said true, either, although I personally don't doubt that a prospective sponsor offered her whatever influence he had in exchange for sex, that a person she respected told her that she needed to pay for parts, although how serious this person is and whether that person was correct is questionable, that she was told to learn to survive in the company by observing/asking how the other dancers did it, or that she was told she was stylistically and (on stage) temperamentally unsuited to be in the corps.

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.

She said she was pressured, but doesn't give details. Pressure is not always coercion: it is often a warning that a person is going down the wrong path for his or her own good. She wrote on Twitter and re-confirmed in an Izvetsia interview before Filin's attorney said a thing. She spoke before she said she was pressured, not in response to pressure not to speak, at least according to the official news on record.

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..."

No, she said she wouldn't name the person out of respect. At least one of the articles in Links identifies this person as a director, but never states that Womack said this. I think it's a safe assumption that if she still respected the person, it was not the person who was collecting money for parts, if that is even true. Since there's no context, it isn't clear whether this was a cynical comment made to her, since she didn't follow up.

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My impression of Womack trying to come across as a forgiving person stems from two things. First, she insists that she will not divulge the identity of the coach who mentioned the $10k bribe, because she still respects this coach. Womack seems to be portraying herself as a loyal person in that regard. She wants to somehow come across as a loyal person even as she, in a disloyal way, accuses Bolshoi staff of serious crimes. This type of behavior fits the definition of passive-aggressiveness. Being a concerned whistleblower means you should be ready to provide evidence on record. There is no half hearted way of being the whistleblower unless the real intent is not to serve warning to others, but to gain sympathy and publicity for your own plight.

I also think it is funny that there are now two famous American so-called whistleblowers taking up residence in Russia. Snowden and Womack.

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Snowden's situation is off-limits to discussion on Ballet Alert!, as it is a political issue that has nothing to do with ballet.

Womack did not flee to Russia to escape the consequences of whistle-blowing elsewhere. If anything, the more dire consequences of her interviews would be expected to be in Russia.

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A little while ago, someone asked the question whether Joy Womack was the only one in her class that was hired by the Bolshoi in 2012. The answer is no. There were two other girls, Anastasia Denisova and Alexandra Rakitina, in her class. They are still with the Bolshoi, in the corps, and if I understood a French article correctly that I read at the time, these other two girls were invited by the Bolshoi to join the company after graduation, while Womack had to go through a regular audition process to secure her spot. And this may be the reason why the Bolshoi now says that she was hired because she was "persistent".

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Being a concerned whistleblower means you should be ready to provide evidence on record. There is no half hearted way of being the whistleblower unless the real intent is not to serve warning to others, but to gain sympathy and publicity for your own plight.

Telling her story serves as a warning all by itself. Choosing to withhold certain details for the sake of someone she respects is honorable in my book.

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1. Yes, often claiming someone who is rightfully "disgruntled" is "effective" and suffices to eliminate any objective review of the content of the fired employees' complaints, Helene. The smear defeats justice and revictimizes the employees.

2. Turandot, I don't see how being protective of or loyal to a director (whom she does not seem to have accused of wrongdoing) is equivalent to "forgiving" the theater.

3. Turandot, I agree with Helene regarding whistleblowing. Snowden was granted asylum in Russia, whereas she is in the center of the storm, complaining about her treatment in a Russian school.

4. Turandot/Helene, I think there is a difference between explaining why she left to warn people who had read about her in the news (as a way to promote students to the school?) that her experience was not what she expected, and being a "whistleblower" trying to engage in a formal review or change the system or get people in trouble.

5. Helene, the threats to be silent were mentioned in the article two days ago.

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Here;s the thing: I've seen many things in this thread (and elsewhere) simply shrugged off as the "Russian way." This includes securing rich patrons as lovers, abusive coaching practices, bribery, racism, and most of all, a dictatorial system of management. These are not accusations unique to Womack -- other dancers have complained about the same thing.

My question, is, at what point, does the "oh well, they're Russian" excuse not fly anymore?

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Here;s the thing: I've seen many things in this thread (and elsewhere) simply shrugged off as the "Russian way." This includes securing rich patrons as lovers, abusive coaching practices, bribery, racism, and most of all, a dictatorial system of management. These are not accusations unique to Womack -- other dancers have complained about the same thing.

My question, is, at what point, does the "oh well, they're Russian" excuse not fly anymore?

Helene says her situation was not unique. Many articles about Womack quote dancers who say that what Womack said is not far off. Others on these boards say it is the Russian way. The "New Yorker" magazine article on the Bolshoi renovation said that the locals thought the bribes and sexual favors were no big deal, and shrugged it off. Certainly, Pavel D. Nichola Tsiskaridze, A. Voloch__ (sorry spelling) and the open letter writers support claims about the favors and money. Certainly we know about the money lost in the renovation, the power struggles, and the acid violence.

That is why I don't understand all the people on the board insisting that Womack is making up a reason for leaving as a face saving excuse to cover for her having been a failure in the big leagues after having been an inspiration to local children in her ballet school. She can be only suitable to be a minor leaguer and still be truthful about having faced all of the above situations that many people seem to confirm without thinking it is a big deal.

Why do they ignore the plethora of confirmations, and say she is only a disgruntled liar? Because of deleting a twitter account (which she may have thought better of or may have been advised to do)? Because of some social media inconsistencies? I think some people who write on the internet, even on these boards, sometimes make statements to be provocative, or to debate, or to promote one person at the expense of another, or out of boredom, or to see what people say in response, or because of changed moods, or changed opinions, or a bad day at work. This may give rise to "inconsistencies", but does not render the people posting as otherwise bad people or warranting disbelief if they were to be put on a stand and sworn in to testify under oath, over something important or of consequence.

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5. Helene, the threats to be silent were mentioned in the article two days ago.

I think this is sound advice for her since she's unwilling to make an official complaint.

The following is another example of inconsistencies in her story and these sorts of things are exactly why people are questioning and searching for facts. Not boredom, or a bad day at work but the whole mess is just too murky to believe without questions.

Also yesterday, the New York Times published a correction in regard to their Womack article

http://www.nytimes.c...-2013.html?_r=0

finally pointing out that "she was one of the first Americans — not the first — to join the Bolshoi after graduating from its training academy in Moscow"

This was high time because I have been reading for years that there were other Americans before her at the Academy who kept quiet because they didn't want to make a big fuss over this.

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Yes, Womack is her worst enemy. If she were a young Hollywood wannabe actress, this would be the perfect time for her publicist to announce that she is entering rehab for delusions of (ballet) grandeur.

...

Also yesterday, the New York Times published a correction in regard to their Womack article

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/22/pageoneplus/corrections-november-22-2013.html?_r=0

finally pointing out that "she was one of the first Americans — not the first — to join the Bolshoi after graduating from its training academy in Moscow"

This was high time because I have been reading for years that there were other Americans before her at the Academy who kept quiet because they didn't want to make a big fuss over this.

...I find it very sad when you call yourself "A dancer for Jesus" and always mention your faith but use this in the way of "As He is FOR me, who dares to be AGAINST me" - but that's another story.

In my very personal opinion, Womack's big dream collapsed within two minutes and she is unwilling to accept this fact. ...This can become an addiction and it seems to be one in Womack's case. So, maybe, going to "rehab" is not such a bad idea...

1. She is criticized for having pursued (being advised to pursue?) a bad, high profile, (risky?) social media pr strategy, which backfired, and now you suggest she follow a standard Hollywood pr strategy, by going to rehab?

2. By the way, rehab for what? Having had childhood dreams? Growing up? Moving on? Giving up a dream? Not buying the hype? That is not an addiction.

3. I am sure after you suggest that she pursue a pr advised rehab period, the criticism of her credibility for going to rehab would follow.

4. I don't understand the dancer for Jesus claim or the quotation or how it applies. Do religious people have to be infallible? Did she claim to dedicate her dance to religion? I am not familiar with the for/against quotation, so I am not sure to what it refers.

5. Her dream of the Bolshoi "collapsed", true, but she seems very willing to accept that fact. That doesn't seem like a basis for vitriol or the pr disappearing route suggested, but maybe some people are happy for others to fail.

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5. Helene, the threats to be silent were mentioned in the article two days ago.

I think this is sound advice for her since she's unwilling to make an official complaint.

A big difference exists between a threat and sound advice.

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Who threatened her? Did she name those who threatened her? Filin gave her advice that she didn't like but I didn't read that he threatened her. She adds more to every interview but they are her words, her views. No way to substantiate them as she refuses to file a formal complaint or go to the authorities. Maybe she didn't like Filin's advice and complained of extortion. Maybe she didn't like the advice to be silent and said it was a threat, who knows? If I were threatened, I would go to the authorities. If I were her parent, I would insist that she go to the authorities and ask for protection. If she feels unsafe in doing so, then she might want to reconsider where she's chosen to live. Which brings us to the whole, that's the way it is in Russia thing. As outsiders, it's really not our privilege or responsibilty or opportunity to say when it doesn't fly anymore. As an American, she's an outsider, even if the sham marriage makes her a Russian citizen. Any changes at the Bolshoi will only happen when those in power (both at the company and from the state perspective) decide to change. The complaints of a disgruntled dancer will not cause that change. Unless she's willing to make formal charges of extortion and threats, no one is going to listen.

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Who threatened her? Did she name those who threatened her? Filin gave her advice that she didn't like but I didn't read that he threatened her. She adds more to every interview but they are her words, her views. No way to substantiate them as she refuses to file a formal complaint or go to the authorities. Maybe she didn't like Filin's advice and complained of extortion. Maybe she didn't like the advice to be silent and said it was a threat, who knows? If I were threatened, I would go to the authorities. If I were her parent, I would insist that she go to the authorities and ask for protection. If she feels unsafe in doing so, then she might want to reconsider where she's chosen to live. Which brings us to the whole, that's the way it is in Russia thing. As outsiders, it's really not our privilege or responsibilty or opportunity to say when it doesn't fly anymore. As an American, she's an outsider, even if the sham marriage makes her a Russian citizen. Any changes at the Bolshoi will only happen when those in power (both at the company and from the state perspective) decide to change. The complaints of a disgruntled dancer will not cause that change. Unless she's willing to make formal charges of extortion and threats, no one is going to listen.

I strongly disagree with this. I disagree with it when the same argument is used in the U.S. against immigrants -- "That's the way it is if you don't like it get back on the boat" rhetoric. It's the 21st century. The things that MANY Bolshoi dancers have described as "standard operating procedure" are not acceptable by 21st century standards.

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It's ok to dislike the way things are done but I don't see how any of us here are going to change the way things are done at the Bolshoi. I don't think one 19 year old disgruntled American dancer who makes allegations that she's unwilling to pursue with officials is going to change "the way things are done" at the Bolshoi. There is a difference... those US immigrants stood up for their rights in many cases and took to the courts or went to the police. Without being willing to name the people who commit the offenses, people are able to hide behind the "way things are" argument. Until this happens internally and the management decides to change, the situation will not change. IMO, it will take brave Russian dancers to insist that changes happen but given the recent departure of their stars maybe it's just easier to leave.

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It's ok to dislike the way things are done but I don't see how any of us here are going to change the way things are done at the Bolshoi. I don't think one 19 year old disgruntled American dancer who makes allegations that she's unwilling to pursue with officials is going to change "the way things are done" at the Bolshoi. There is a difference... those US immigrants stood up for their rights in many cases and took to the courts or went to the police. Without being willing to name the people who commit the offenses, people are able to hide behind the "way things are" argument. Until this happens internally and the management decides to change, the situation will not change. IMO, it will take brave Russian dancers to insist that changes happen but given the recent departure of their stars maybe it's just easier to leave.

Well actually in recent years some Russian stars (Maria Alexandrova, Irina Kolsenikova, some others) DID speak out about the extremely harsh and punitive training regimen in Russian schools. It's my understanding that many of the teachers that were named ended up retiring, and school curriculum in ballet schools in both Moscow and Vaganova was changed to be more "well-rounded," academic, more like an actual school than a ballet factory. That led to countercharges that instruction was no longer as "rigorous."

But my point is that the "Russian way" CAN change. Not saying Womack went about this the right way (she didn't), but her complaints echo the complaints of other dancers at the Bolshoi, and so just to shrug it off as the "Russian way" is not productive.

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Who threatened her? Did she name those who threatened her? Filin gave her advice that she didn't like but I didn't read that he threatened her. She adds more to every interview but they are her words, her views. No way to substantiate them as she refuses to file a formal complaint or go to the authorities. Maybe she didn't like Filin's advice and complained of extortion. Maybe she didn't like the advice to be silent and said it was a threat, who knows? If I were threatened, I would go to the authorities. If I were her parent, I would insist that she go to the authorities and ask for protection. If she feels unsafe in doing so, then she might want to reconsider where she's chosen to live. Which brings us to the whole, that's the way it is in Russia thing. As outsiders, it's really not our privilege or responsibilty or opportunity to say when it doesn't fly anymore. As an American, she's an outsider, even if the sham marriage makes her a Russian citizen. Any changes at the Bolshoi will only happen when those in power (both at the company and from the state perspective) decide to change. The complaints of a disgruntled dancer will not cause that change. Unless she's willing to make formal charges of extortion and threats, no one is going to listen.

1. An article 2 days ago stated that two high level people threatened her, and I characterized what Filin's lawyer stated as a threat. I interpret a threat to mean something very different from advice to go learn the ropes, or a whisper in the ear, saying that is not the best way to achieve one's goals.

2. I don't think anyone can "protect" her and many probably would not even want to protect her. Someone once dumped a body behind a fence across the street in front of my home. They then walked across the street and asked my mother, "Did you see anything?" She told them, "No, I don't know what you are talking about." Did she tell her family? Yes. Did she tell anyone else? Of course not. Do you think anyone else would have been able to "protect" her? At what cost? Would you pay that price? Would you allow your family to pay that price? What would you achieve by it? What would you lose by it?

3. I don't get the impression the 19 year old had a goal to change the way things are done at the Bolshoi. Why would anyone think she did? From what I read in the newspapers, she just said she was mistreated and was told to do things she did not want to do, so she left. And she said, "This is what happened to me, in case you are looking to follow in my footsteps, beware."

4. If she would have gone to file a formal complaint in week 2 about nonpayment, as someone above indicates, do you think she would have had a better or worse reputation? She would have been labeled a "troublemaker", and not a "team player". Her career would have been dead even before the end of the first year. Haven't you been told to "take one for the team"? Only a very few places of employment are text-book, by the rules places. Reality is very different than the what one is lead to believe exists when one sits behind the ivy walls of university or in other idealistic places.

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She adds more to every interview but they are her words, her views. No way to substantiate them as she refuses to file a formal complaint or go to the authorities. Maybe she didn't like Filin's advice and complained of extortion. M

One cannot "substantiate" words that are spoken. Her filing a formal complaint would not "substantiate" anything. Sure the cops could send her back with a wire to try to get someone to repeat it, but why would she do that?

It is a non sequitur to say she did not like advice to find out the way it is done (a sponsor/lover and/or a payment) and then complained (about him? seeking) extortion She apparently was asked why she left, and, according to Keim, said she did not want to make a payment or get a sponsor. If one did not like Filin's advice, why would one make up a complaint about him? She simply would not follow the advice. The problem is, according to Keim, she told Kiem what the advice was, and that she left because she did not feel that following that advice was appropriate.

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The things that MANY Bolshoi dancers have described as "standard operating procedure" are not acceptable by 21st century standards.

You mean not acceptable by our standards. They are apparently acceptable by 21st century Russian standards. It's one thing for Womack to complain about improper sexual advances made to her. But it's not our place as outsiders to protest their system. It's only our place to support Russians who do.

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Telling her story serves as a warning all by itself.

If Americans stop going to the Bolshoi school, then perhaps the "warning" is meaningful, but the situation of other Americans who've been successful at the Bolshoi tells another story.

1. Yes, often claiming someone who is rightfully "disgruntled" is "effective" and suffices to eliminate any objective review of the content of the fired employees' complaints, Helene. The smear defeats justice and revictimizes the employees.

If the fired employee is in the right. There's no proof that Ms. Womack was right in this situation, because she offers no proof of her accusations.

5. Helene, the threats to be silent were mentioned in the article two days ago.

It is a claim. Who threatened or "threatened" her and what they said would elucidate whether she understood what was said more than she understood her position in the company, what the feedback that said she was unable to fit into the corps meant, or anything else she was told.

In any case, she spoke to the press and continues to speak to the press; threatening her, if it happened was not successful, but I don't know why they bothered, since her credibility in Russia is nil.

Filin's lawyer reserved the right to sue *after* she had made her statement to Izvetsia, in which she claimed she was not going to speak about it anymore.

Here;s the thing: I've seen many things in this thread (and elsewhere) simply shrugged off as the "Russian way." This includes securing rich patrons as lovers, abusive coaching practices, bribery, racism, and most of all, a dictatorial system of management. These are not accusations unique to Womack -- other dancers have complained about the same thing.

My question, is, at what point, does the "oh well, they're Russian" excuse not fly anymore?

I don't see anyone saying that any dancer should have to have sex or give money for parts, directly or indirectly. It is the Russians' company as far as casting, typecasting, assessment of talent, promotions, touring, and advancement, just like you or I don't have a vote at NYCB or ABT. It's their taste and judgement, and the idea that all the swans must look alike is hardly specific to Russia: one look around the companies in the world outside Dance Theatre of Harlem shows that regardless of country.

I don't see NYCB or ABT being any less dictatorial, even if the AD's present more Americanized attitudes.

The Russian employment practices may change if there is social change within the country, if their practices lose them students and dancers -- the pipeline has been Mariinsky to Bolshoi, so I don't see that happening soon -- if

someone goes to the UN, and the UN intervenes, in other words, if there is an actual whistleblower, not an unhappy ex-employee.

Helene says her situation was not unique. Many articles about Womack quote dancers who say that what Womack said is not far off. Others on these boards say it is the Russian way.

In fact, I said that Womack's situation is hardly unique only in there have been dancers of all ranks in the Bolshoi whose contracts have not been terminated even though they are rarely cast.

4. If she would have gone to file a formal complaint in week 2 about nonpayment, as someone above indicates, do you think she would have had a better or worse reputation?

She was not told to file a formal complaint about non-payment. She did not make a complaint about non-payment: she complained that too much withholding tax was taken from her paycheck, i.e., she was paid for the performances listed in her contract, without being issued a Russian tax ID. Urin addressed this and said the theater had handled it poorly. She claims to have done additional unpaid side performances for the experience, but that was her choice

Urin told her to go to the authorities about the criminal accusations she made concerning bribery.

They are apparently acceptable by 21st century Russian standards. It's one thing for Womack to complain about improper sexual advances made to her. But it's not our place as outsiders to protest their system. It's only our place to support Russians who do.

She isn't accusing anyone in the theater of making improper sexual advances: she accused a potential sponsor. Could NYCB prevent a CEO of a company from making the same offer to a ballerina in the company?

She complains she was told that she would have to pay for roles, which implicates employees of the theater and theater management (if only if their oversight capacity) in criminal activity. Even in 21st Century Russia, that behavior is technically criminal, or Urin wouldn't have told her to go to the police with her claim.

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It truly seems that Womack had a kind of idolized version of Russian ballet and life in the Bolshoi. She wanted to be a ballerina there, and it became a fixation. She showed maturity in being able to move to Russian at a young age, learn the language etc. At the same time she showed tremendous immaturity in not picking up on clues along the way on how things work. Did she really have no idea during the months she worked there that there were people who got ahead and people who didn't. Did she not examine why some people got cast and others didn't. I'm not saying that everyone who got cast paid or had a sponsor, I don't know that one way or the other. But did Womack look at dancers who were advancing to try to figure it out? I've been watching the AOL NYCB series. In one episode a soloist says that she definitely watches who Peter Martins seems to take interest in and why.

I'm sorry that Womack has gone through hard times, and had her dream broken. At the same time she threw herself into a complicated situation that she was ill equipped to handle and now blames external forces.

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The things that MANY Bolshoi dancers have described as "standard operating procedure" are not acceptable by 21st century standards.

You mean not acceptable by our standards. They are apparently acceptable by 21st century Russian standards. It's one thing for Womack to complain about improper sexual advances made to her. But it's not our place as outsiders to protest their system. It's only our place to support Russians who do.

I'm very conscious of being an outsider whenever I comment on what I read going on in Russian ballet companies (or for that matter Russian Ballet Schools--see: other Russian ballet scandals--or indeed, though not on this message board, whenever I comment on what I hear from Russian acquaintances about Russian Universities or on what I read in an open letter from a Russian prisoner about conditions in Russian prisons etc. etc.).

Still, it's a pretty fine distinction to say it's not for us to criticize as outsiders, but it is for us to support Russians who do criticize. In any given case, why would I support internal critics if not because they shared my own "outsider" views? I may think Russians need to take the lead -- I DO think that in fact -- but I don't think there is no room for someone from outside saying they believe something is wrong or even involving themselves in peaceful protest. (I could give an example but it would take us straight to politics.)

I also think the situation is further complicated by the fact that Russian schools/companies are deliberately opening themselves to outsiders: it's inevitable in that context that outsider perspectives on how things operate there are going to be aired. And, I think, in most cases, they should be with the caveat that we certainly should be sensitive to differing contexts.

However, none of the above was actually meant as a direct reflection on Joy Womack's experiences or what she says about them or what she ought to do next. She seems to be a talented dancer--I hope she builds a successful career.

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The things that MANY Bolshoi dancers have described as "standard operating procedure" are not acceptable by 21st century standards.

You mean not acceptable by our standards. They are apparently acceptable by 21st century Russian standards. It's one thing for Womack to complain about improper sexual advances made to her. But it's not our place as outsiders to protest their system. It's only our place to support Russians who do.

I wasn't aware we were governed by the prime directive.

By this reasoning, it is not our place as outsiders to criticize such practices as female genital mutilation.

While I agree it is much more productive for such criticism to come from within a culture, that doesn't mean we have to say or feel that practices that we find morally objectionable are fine because we are outsiders.

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4. If she would have gone to file a formal complaint in week 2 about nonpayment, as someone above indicates, do you think she would have had a better or worse reputation?

She was not told to file a formal complaint about non-payment.

Helene, This was in response to Swanchat, who stated: "If she was on a regular contract and wasn't paid regularly, then after the 2nd missed payment, she should have lodged a formal complaint, requested her pay and left with her training and company affiliation on her resume."

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