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Joy Womack has left the Bolshoialleges corruption


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#61 Plisskin

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 09:40 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.
 
I also found that puzzling as well. She also did the Paquita Pas de deux with fellow American classmate Mario Labrador. I also know she's danced in 1 American production with West Side Ballet as the Sugar Plum Fairy last year, and their are other video's of her on Youtube doing various variations. It's implausable to me that she could apparently do that, but couldn't remember simple choreography of standing around in the background waving roses. Joy has said that she thinks her treatment was due in part to being American or foreign. Unlike the West, Russian ballet companies are known for being xenophobic, which was why David Hallberg's Principal appointment came as a surprise since that never happens. In that regard, I wouldn't be surprised if their were some truth in her statements.

#62 Plisskin

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 09:47 AM

Darci Kistler said in the "Six Ballerinas" documentary that she had a great deal od 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.

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.

Ah, this is a good point as well.



#63 volcanohunter

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 09:49 AM

Russian ballet companies are known for being xenophobic

 

Perhaps, but Brazilians Mariana Gomes and Bruna Gaglianone Cantanhede are very active members of the Bolshoi's corps.



#64 vipa

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 10:42 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.

 

It makes some sense that a non-Russian would be charged tuition.  To me it's comparabe to having to pay out-of-state tuition in a state college.  The residents have been paying taxes to support the institution, so they don't pay as much.

 

I find it fascinating that Ms. Womack became so single minded in her idea of being a member of the Bolshoi.



#65 puppytreats

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 11:19 AM

 

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 don't agree that free labor is the best.  No one would advocate for slavery.  Paying low, unfair, or disparate wages for the same job by the same level and quality of worker, certainly hurts morale, discourages loyalty, and leads to feelings of unfairness, having been taken advantage of, discrimination, and a lack of unity.  I am sure women who get paid much less then men, because they don't have the information to know the right salary to ask for, or the power, because other stereotypes or discriminatory beliefs, do not think that free or low paid work is the best.  



#66 puppytreats

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 11:22 AM

 

Gelsey's second books talks about this, but only in connection with her guest roles.



#67 abatt

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 11:46 AM

Of course low, unfair pay leads to morale problems and lack of loyalty.  It was not the tipping point for Womack, but it added fuel to her already burning fire of discontent, and now that is part of the reason she is giving  these media interviews.  She's sticking it to the Bolshoi- an organization that already is embroiled in controversy and doesn't need any more bad publicity.



#68 dirac

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 02:05 PM

If Filin's lawyer is saying Filin reserves the right to sue, then presumably he means reserving the right to sue for libel or the Russian legal equivalent. (My understanding is that "defamation" can be prosecuted as a criminal offense in Russia, but Filin's lawyer does not refer to anything of the kind as translated/summarized.) What damage to him from Womack's interview?  Well I should think depending on how the law is framed...damage to his reputation and all that can ensue from that--and anything of the kind would have to be determined in a court of law.

 

I think Urin's response to Womack just seems a lot smarter and also more to the point than Filin's lawyer's response, especially if she is not making any claims against Filin personally. But when someone gives an interview potentially trashing one's reputation I don't know that one doesn't have the right to send up smoke signals via lawyer that the person can't necessarily just walk away saying 'I want to put it behind me...' Though it's certainly playing hardball.

 

It's not that I'm without sympathy for Womack--I'm delighted she found a job with the Kremlin ballet--but she doesn't just say the Bolshoi was unwelcoming to her or is badly run or was late with a paycheck. She says that she was told to find a sponsor and pay for roles.

 

Agree in full. It sounds as if Womack had a tough time after great financial sacrifice from her family and one wishes her the best in future, but allegations of widespread bribery and/or attempts at extortion are not small potatoes and I would expect Urin and Filin to treat them seriously. The Bolshoi has enough problems as it is. If Womack didn't expect any mention of legal action her parents (and any more sophisticated advisors she may have) ought to have done.



#69 volcanohunter

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 02:32 PM

Her allegations are arguably directed at the company as a whole and not at Filin in particular. The only accusation directed at Filin is that he refused to give her the time of day. That's hardly defamation. Urin reacted with much more composure than Filin's attorney. If Womack goes to the authorities with accusations of corruption, Urin will take them very seriously. If she doesn't, he seems inclined to ignore them.



#70 dirac

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 04:52 PM

I suspect Filin's lawyer may have deliberately reacted with less composure....



#71 Helene

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 06:05 PM

I keep thinking about Eric Conrad, the guy who taught in Russia and came back with the message for Americans studying there that they just wanted their money and to not equate acceptance to the schools in Russia as an endorsement of their skills. 



#72 ord7916

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 06:43 PM

Granted he is in an entirely different league, but David Hallberg seems to be adapting well to the Bolshoi, even as an American and a gay American in a place that is not exactly the most tolerant in the world.   



#73 volcanohunter

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 08:36 PM

I keep thinking about Eric Conrad, the guy who taught in Russia and came back with the message for Americans studying there that they just wanted their money and to not equate acceptance to the schools in Russia as an endorsement of their skills. 

 

I don't doubt that Womack's experience could prompt young American dancers who dreamed of studying at one of the big Russian schools to rethink their ambitions. Or at least their parents will think twice before forking over tens of thousands.



#74 Jayne

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 11:11 PM

 

I keep thinking about Eric Conrad, the guy who taught in Russia and came back with the message for Americans studying there that they just wanted their money and to not equate acceptance to the schools in Russia as an endorsement of their skills. 

 

I don't doubt that Womack's experience could prompt young American dancers who dreamed of studying at one of the big Russian schools to rethink their ambitions. Or at least their parents will think twice before forking over tens of thousands.

 

I would give the same advice to all the Chinese parents borrowing money from various relatives to send their children to expensive American Universities at "International" tuition prices.

 

Back to Joy Womack's predicament.  After re-reading some of the articles, it seems that Mr Filin did not think Ms Womack was ready to move from corps to soloist.  Most 19 year olds are not ready for the soloist track, whether they are at a small company or a large one of 180+ dancers such as the Bolshoi.  We've all read interviews with Alexei Ratmansky, where he complained about the constant lobbying from dancers for roles, their sponsors, their political patrons, etc. So it definitely is part of the landscape at the Bolshoi, and maybe Ms Womack was told by the anonymous director that this is the reality.  

 

I have to wonder if all the training for soloist parts at the Academy was a disservice to Ms. Womack?  The other dancers were preparing to become corps members, move in unison, listen for the proper beats for corps coreography.  She was preparing variations.  

 

That said, with her training, she could do very well at many European companies, or return to the US and dance for ABT, Houston, or San Jose Ballet (aka ABT's Farm Team).  However, she will probably still get hired into the corps and need to learn to fit in there.

 

I wonder what will happen with Miko Fogarty, who is essentially on the same training track as Ms Womack?  Will she become the female girl-wonder to parallel Daniil Simkin?  



#75 Helene

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 12:16 AM

I would give the same advice to all the Chinese parents borrowing money from various relatives to send their children to expensive American Universities at "International" tuition prices.

I don't think these things are equivalent.   A Chinese or other international student whose family pays for the academic equivalent of Bolshoi training -- the Harvards, Stanfords, University of Chicagos, the Michigan State Honors Program, etc. -- and excels is not dependent on that university's management to attend a top graduate school or to get a position at an investment bank.  The degree, grades, recommendations, and GMAT/LSAT/etc. scores can be used to become successful in many fields, not to mention the connections that student can make.

 

The newspaper stories published until today consistently reported that Womack left the company/resigned/quit, but another in today's Links insists several times that she was fired:

http://balletalert.i...er-15/?p=329617




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