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Joy Womack has left the Bolshoialleges corruption


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#46 Helene

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 03:01 PM

Helene states: "n the meantime, the people she accuses in the press of criminal behavior without pursuing criminal charges through the system have the right to point her to the process and to defend themselves against her accusations in any legal way they see fit."
 
Response: If she is telling the truth, then he does not have to say "she is lying" automatically, as you suggest.

You did not respond to my statement in context. I asked "Are you suggesting that anyone who walks into a police station and makes an accusation has their word accepted at face value with no corroborating evidence, that the prosecutors automatically will accept it -- estimated 99% conviction rate in Russia -- and that the accused will sit back and not say, "S/he's lying" or "S/he misunderstood"?"

In other words, is the statement of a person who goes to the police about any charge -- not applicable to Womack -- automatically accepted without question, and do you expect the person accused to accept charges -- again, not specific to Womack, because she did not go to the police with evidence of criminal activity -- to sit back and not refute them?

The "he" remains anonymous, since, according to an article in "The Telegraph" in today's Links, she's not planning to name who told her about spending $10K/role/performance, "because I greatly respect him." Given the context of her statement, that she "learned" about the going price from this highly respected person, it doesn't follow automatically that this person was the one receiving bribes.

#47 puppytreats

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 04:24 PM

  She probably gave an interview and probably answered a question about why she quit, honestly, although not necessarily shrewdly.
 
 

I read one of the articles and it said the reporter had talked to her, but I don't remember if it said it was an "interview", so I'm not even sure that qualifies as an accusation made to or through the press.



#48 puppytreats

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 04:35 PM

 

Helene states: "n the meantime, the people she accuses in the press of criminal behavior without pursuing criminal charges through the system have the right to point her to the process and to defend themselves against her accusations in any legal way they see fit."
 
Response: If she is telling the truth, then he does not have to say "she is lying" automatically, as you suggest.

You did not respond to my statement in context. I asked "Are you suggesting that anyone who walks into a police station and makes an accusation has their word accepted at face value with no corroborating evidence, that the prosecutors automatically will accept it -- estimated 99% conviction rate in Russia -- and that the accused will sit back and not say, "S/he's lying" or "S/he misunderstood"?"

In other words, is the statement of a person who goes to the police about any charge -- not applicable to Womack -- automatically accepted without question, and do you expect the person accused to accept charges -- again, not specific to Womack, because she did not go to the police with evidence of criminal activity -- to sit back and not refute them?

The "he" remains anonymous, since, according to an article in "The Telegraph" in today's Links, she's not planning to name who told her about spending $10K/role/performance, "because I greatly respect him." Given the context of her statement, that she "learned" about the going price from this highly respected person, it doesn't follow automatically that this person was the one receiving bribes.

 

How often does an extortion attempt, if that is even the word she used, come in writing or on tape?  Sometimes, I guess, but one could just as readily assume someone pulled her aside and whispered something in her ear, or more loudly threatened her, in a conversation.   Even if someone slapped her, which is not alleged, what "back up" would she have if she were to complain about that? 



#49 Helene

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 04:55 PM

It makes extortion attempts difficult to prove as well as difficult to defend against, when they're words in the air. Dmitrichenko has been making similar accusations without having proven anything and without any corroborating witnesses, aside from one who made vague accusations himself, and according to recent articles on the trial, the prosecutors' turn is up. Money doesn't just disappear. It comes from one place and ends up in another.

As far as what Womack has disclosed and whether she knew she was being interviewed, there are three articles in today's Links to which I linked above which provide some clarity.

The police and prosecutors can investigate when they have what they consider at least a creditable lead, and that includes having forensic accountants review books and bank accounts. It includes wire-taps, subpoenaed records, email reviews, undercover work, recorded conversations, etc.

The real question is how much someone who is unwilling to go to criminal authorities about criminal behavior can say without consequence. So far, Womack has suffered no consequence from speaking: she had already left the Bolshoi, and she was hired by the Kremlin State Ballet

#50 puppytreats

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 05:45 PM

But from what I read, Womack did not pay money, but rather, left, so I don't know what kind of money would be at issue or be subject to forensic analysis.  If someone asks you for money and you say no, and then you tell a friend that, because you are scared or upset, or naive or trusting and honest, well, poor girl.  I am sure she will suffer some consequences; she already felt she had to leave.

 

If the sophisticated, experienced head of a theatre hears about it and has his lawyer threaten a criminal liable suit in the press, I would question what is he so scared of  or defensive about that he would even address it or address it in that way.  He could just have easily said nothing, or said that he would investigate it, or said that sponsorship is not wrongful.



#51 Helene

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 05:56 PM

The sponsorship is a completely different issue that fee for roles, and, if you read the articles in Links, you'll see Iksanov already weighed in on the subject, which is that if dancers find men to give them jewels, that's not the theater's business.

If Womack went to the police to say that she was told by a member of the theater she will not name out of respect -- a director, according to one of the articles -- that she should pay $10K/performance/role (criminal) and find a sponsor to plead her case to management (not criminal), but that she left instead, if the police found her statement credible, they could launch an investigation not of her financials, but of the theater's and any dancers they find may have been extorted.

Filin's lawyer said that they reserved the right to sue for defamation. I wouldn't assume that Filin is scared; it could be part of the monetary damage part of the attack trial, it may be that he's trying to preempt personal liability for any potential untoward thing that happens in the theater, and it could be that he's fed up with letting things slide when someone accuses him falsely, as that didn't work out so well for him when he was threatened last fall before acid was thrown in his face, partially blinding him. Whether it's a smart was to react is another story.

#52 pherank

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 07:38 PM

And it all could have been handled so easily: if Bolshoi staff wasn't happy with Womack's progress, they should have ended her contract. That would be the end of things and all would be legal and above board.

 

Naturally, if someone is promoted to soloist, but they aren't given any roles, it's going to look rather odd. Good luck to Ms. Womack - I hope she is able to actually dance somewhere.



#53 Helene

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 07:54 PM

At NYCB that would be expected. For Soloists, it's feast for the few who are fast-tracked and when there are a rash of injuries, but famine for the rest when there are fewer injuries. This has been discussed most recently in the AOL online series.

Reading the Marriinsky and Bolshoi threads, it seems to happen to Principals, too, in these companies, and their contracts are renewed for years.

#54 swanchat

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 06:04 AM

I don't post often on the board. The expertise and well-worded comments are all that need to be said. I have noticed though that no one has pointed out that this dancer is in her second year post graduation, 19 years old and dancing in a country where she is not native. And she is upset because she's not dancing solo roles. Really? 

 

Yes, if the allegation is true that she was told in essence to buy her solo role, it's wrong but I suspect that this type of "under the table" favoritism is not all that uncommon. I've watched young dancers given solo and even lead roles and wondered why as it seemed to me that they simply were not ready. I've come to look at these overnight successes with a jaded eye as a result. Are they in these roles because they are phenomenal (some are) or is it influence with a choreographer or director  or some quirk that plays well in the press or yes, even money being paid to the company by a sponsor (named or unnamed) that brings them to the role?

 

Is this dancer a reflection of the new generation of dancers who are so impatient that they don't understand the value of the journey and the maturity that experience brings to featured roles? Or a reflection of ballet directors and boards desperate to use any means to augment funds? Is it common to expect to be a soloist in Russia right so soon after graduation? As an member of the audience, I'm paying to be entertained, not to watch a dancer who is just not seasoned enough to be featured. Perhaps if this dancer had been willing to work hard in the corps and prove her readiness for featured roles (like the majority of dancers), she wouldn't have been told to pay for it. If the company did not pay her properly, then she has ample reason to complain but to complain about her casting, well.... that's the entertainment business.

 

I do fear for the dancer. She's young, disillusioned and making statements to the international press that I can't be received well in Russia.



#55 Amy Reusch

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 06:54 AM

It is confusing because in some articles and blogs she is sometimes referred to as a soloist and a soloist contract is mentioned but I only see her listed as corps on the Bolshoi roster. Was she ever offered a soloist contract or was this just internet rumor?

#56 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 07:34 AM

And it all could have been handled so easily: .

 

Easy...?  AT THE BOLSHOI?!  With all that has happened lately the place looks to me like a living nightmare.  I just can't imagine how worse things can get there.  Im telling you...I was dying of curiosity to take a live view of such troupe when I went to London.



#57 volcanohunter

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 07:40 AM

In the NYT story Womack is quoted as saying “The problem is that I wasn’t even being put into the corps de ballet...I had spent a year waiting." In Anna Rebetskaya's Facebook post (since removed, but quoted in Moskovskiy komsomolets) she puts the blame for this on Womack herself: "You don't remember why they couldn't even put you in the corps de ballet? You really think that you don't have a problem remembering choreography?"



#58 tamicute

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 08:29 AM

In the NYT story Womack is quoted as saying The problem is that I wasnt even being put into the corps de ballet...I had spent a year waiting." In Anna Rebetskaya's Facebook post (since removed, but quoted in Moskovskiy komsomolets) she puts the blame for this on Womack herself: "You don't remember why they couldn't even put you in the corps de ballet? You really think that you don't have a problem remembering choreography?"

Womack danced Lise in the Moscow school production of La Fille Mal Gardee and Marina Leonova or her teachers, did not seem to have a problem teaching her the choreography. If she was able to remember the choreography for Lise, she definitely could remember the choreography for a swan standing around, doing nothing, during the Odette adagio.
I consider Rebetskaya as a liar, my opinion.

#59 abatt

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 09:34 AM

And it all could have been handled so easily: if Bolshoi staff wasn't happy with Womack's progress, they should have ended her contract. That would be the end of things and all would be legal and above board.

 

Naturally, if someone is promoted to soloist, but they aren't given any roles, it's going to look rather odd. Good luck to Ms. Womack - I hope she is able to actually dance somewhere.

If we are to believe Womack, she was essentially working for free at the Bolshoi.  Why end a contract with someone who is apparently so enamored of working for the Bolshoi that it costs the Bolshoi little to keep her on.  Virtually free labor is the best kind of labor as far as an employer is concerned. I also found it interesting that she is the only person who had to pay $18,000 in tuition.  The amount of her takehome pay puts her below any poverty line. What kind of organization pays its employee in cash?   The only way this relatinonship was going to end was if Womack herself pulled the plug, which she has now done.  (Apparently she was not getting any health insurance, either, since she had to pay for an operation on her own.)

 

Let's hope that wherever she's headed, she negotiates in advance fair pay and benefits, as well as fair contract terms.



#60 Helene

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 09:39 AM

Darci Kistler said in the "Six Ballerinas" documentary that she had a great deal of trouble when she was in the corps. She described how she would move on the big music, which was the ballerina's, not hers, and that she'd go home in tears after having made so many mistakes, and that's with corps unison less of a priority at NYCB than in the Russian companies. The kind of concentration it takes to do nothing, then move to a specific place in relation to the rest of the group is a different skill. The discipline it takes to try to move exactly in unison is a different skill.

It's one thing spending a long time being coached for a role and being the top student who is the center of attention, and another becoming the low person in the anonymous corps, where experienced corps members know many roles like second skins, have rehearsed the roles many times, and could have little patience for newbies, but new corps members have a lot to learn in a relatively short period of time with little personal attention. Those are two different skills. Most dancers either have or learn these skills, because few have the luxury of being sped through the ranks like Kistler.

If Womack was promised solos and then wasn't given them, she has every right to be angry. Otherwise, she was at the Bolshoi school long enough to observe how long the process takes for solos. The advice she quoted was about solo roles, not paying to get corps work.

As far as the xenophobia of Russian companies, I don't doubt that, but she was in the school long enough to observe and assess her future colleagues, particularly since students perform in many Bolshoi productions. Every time a foreign guest artist is hired by ABT, there are many complaints that the home grown talent is being ignored. It's not surprising that people want to protect their own.

One of the linked articles says that Womack was friends with Volochkova, a young dancer who was angry that she asked many times to dance Odette, the crown jewel of Russian ballets. Not a particularly patient pair, but Volochkova was given opportunities to dance corps and soloist roles.


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