Jump to content


Joy Womack has left the Bolshoialleges corruption


  • Please log in to reply
274 replies to this topic

#91 puppytreats

puppytreats

    Gold Circle

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 751 posts

Posted 19 November 2013 - 05:18 PM

Please link to where she said she was hit on sexually . . ., of which I see no evidence.

"She spoke casually of the theater’s cruelty, its corruption, the sexual “skeletons in its closet,” and admitted that she been hardened by her experiences there. ...

Womack talked about this practice openly when we met in January at a cafe up the street from the Bolshoi. She said she had been “given an opportunity” which she described as, “I want you to be my lover, and I will support you.” Deeply insulted by the offer, Womack says she refused. “

 

Wednesday link, http://world.time.co...r-of-extortion/



#92 vipa

vipa

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,043 posts

Posted 19 November 2013 - 06:28 PM

I don't know if this is appropriate, but if any of you haven't listened to the Joy Womack interview on the Ballet Initiative podcast, you might find it interesting.  Sorry I don't have the link.



#93 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,001 posts

Posted 19 November 2013 - 06:33 PM

The link to the page with the Womack interview (scroll):

http://balletinitiat...t=1377531120000

She sounds intelligent and not naive, which is why her expectation that she can walk away after dropping an accusation like she did is surprising.

#94 volcanohunter

volcanohunter

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,859 posts

Posted 19 November 2013 - 07:04 PM

I hope that this will not be a violation of board rules.

 

At the beginning of October Joy Womack sent off a series of angry tweets, written entirely in hashtags, in which she made essentially the same allegations she made in her Izvestia interview. At the time I did not draw anyone's attention to the tweets, though I'm sure I wasn't the only person who saw them, because I suspected she was overflowing with frustration and might later regret her posts. And indeed, by the following morning Moscow time she had deleted them. (No, I haven't got screen shots of them.)

 

Obviously, things didn't get any better for her because just over a month later she left the company and gave a reporter her reasons. My point is simply that whatever may have happened, Womack spent at least a month considering her decision.



#95 Catherine

Catherine

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 183 posts

Posted 20 November 2013 - 02:55 AM

She was a small fish in a big pond, like most of the people in the company who are corps members, period. Every dancer in the company is in a situation where the director was attacked by acid and subjected to email and Facebook hacking and threatening phone calls the Fall before, and the nominee for the job before him was subject to a vile email and online campaign to smear him. Every corps member is living on a tiny salary in one of the most expensive cities in the world and without family money, significant other money, or sponsorship money is living with his or her family or in a group, like young people do in cities around the world. If there is glass in toe shoes, political influence, sexual favors with patrons, etc., 1. Every member of the company is working in the same conditions and subject to the same 2. She was not like David Hallberg, who did not attend the school and did not speak the language -- I'm not sure if he's yet learned Russian -- and whose lack of Russian language skills was accommodated: she attended the school, speaks Russian, and had three key years in which to observe what was happening in the main company: students are constantly performing with te main company throught their schooling. If she chose to keep her illusions when the truth was staring her in the face, it's really no one else's responsibility, however understandable the "everything's beautiful at the ballet" meme is prevalent.

As far as her contract was concerned, Urin has said they screwed up due to lack of experience with US dancers and tax issues. Her contract would not look like Hallberg's or a guest contract, and tax treaties between the US and Russia are different than tax treaties between Russia and other countries, because very few other countries in the world require tax reporting and payments even when their citizens are not physically resident in the US (or territories or working on behalf of the government and treated as residents.). Were they neglectful: certainly.

Almost every corps member at the Bolshoi was once a star pupil in the school, given private coaching and fussed over and was then relegated to the corps and neglected, not given solo parts, especially major ones. It's not surprising she felt frustrated, but she's really not much different and no more special than almost every other corps member of the Bolshoi. If she wanted something different -- she could have read Plitsetskaya's memoir to see that the Bolshoi in her head had little to do with reality -- she wasn't going to get it by magical thinking.

Just wanted to say I agree with these observations and they're very astute.

 

Regarding the sham marriage: she was married for a short period of time (I read one month, I believe but perhaps it was longer) and is already divorced, because she thought it would help her get somewhere.  What I find surprising is that it is not difficult to read online the Russian requirements (in English or in Russian) for obtaining 1) visas 2) legal employment 3) residency and 4) citizenship. In either language it is clear that marrying a Russian does not get you any of the above (not in the short term at least).

 

Before moving to Russia I did extensive reading about the requirements for legal working visa and the tax requirements for dual residency or Russian residency as a foreigner and what taxes need to be paid, to whom, at what %, and when. It's not the Bolshoi's responsibility to be aware of US tax law. They are responsible for adhering to tax requirements within their own country only. It is the individual's responsibility to file a Federal US Tax return whether residing in the US or not, as Helene I think pointed out. Furthermore, when signing an employment contract in Russia, the contract lists the amount of tax that will be deducted from your paycheck based on  your status. She would have seen what that percentage was before signing. As a tax resident it should be a flat 13% along with the rest of the country. It is higher for other categories (I have to check as this has changed recently, but I believe it's higher if you have not been in Russia long or are not officially employed, or are a subcontractor etc).

 

And a final thought: casting couch policies exist in nearly every company on the planet. We don't hear about them in the mainstream press but they happen. So I'd extend the comments in that area as well. If she was exposed to those comments, she was not the only one. But it's up to the individual how they react, whether they succumb, if they work hard without the bribes or try to take /give money to get somewhere faster. It is a fact that not every (or even many) corps members are paying bribes to get on stage. The below is very very true:

 

[from writer]

 

...I was pointing out that she is obviously not the only person in the company who is subjected to this maltreatment. And she is not first dancer in the world to not be getting the roles she feels she deserves. All sorts of professions have this same type of problem. Take a big New York law firm for example. Every attorney there would have been top of her class at an Ivy league law school. You think she's going to be doing high profile trials after her first year?  That doesn't mean she isn't smart or has the potential to grow, but it means she is a first year and will be treated like all the other first years in the firm.


#96 Swanilda8

Swanilda8

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 125 posts

Posted 20 November 2013 - 04:48 AM

I agree that women all over the world face these sorts of difficulties, probably more so within the world of performing arts, where there are rarely clear guidelines or oversight and where there is enormous competition for roles. I also agree that dancers live and work under terrible conditions all over the world.

 

However, the fact that it happens on a large scale does not mean that it is right, nor does it mean that any dancer is wrong when she points out the injustices that she was subjected to. Giving out roles for money rather than for talent is an injustice, even if Womack doesn't have the talent to get a role without it. Asking for sexual favors in return for roles is an injustice. 

 

It seems to me that Womack has done everything that she can in the situation. She can't take the matter to the police - even in the US that would be an extraordinarily difficult thing to do, with huge amounts of political and financial repercussions. She has secured another situation (and I would point out in a Russian company, so clearly she enjoys and appreciates living in Moscow and doesn't believe that this is a particularly Russian problem). It makes me angry that things like this happen. I wish all the best to Womack and hope she succeeds at the Kremlin ballet. 



#97 swanchat

swanchat

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 38 posts

Posted 20 November 2013 - 09:00 AM

I agree that buying roles and getting ahead for sexual favors is infuriating and in a perfect world, we would only see those who work hard, have the ability, training and stage presence succeed. The world is not perfect and as Helene and Catherine have pointed out, this girl is not the only one who has, is, or will find the world to be imperfect.  She doesn't sound naive in that podcast nor is her story really all that unique. Many dancers go far from home in their teens, the vast majority spend years if not their entire career in the corps and all will see inequity in casting and promotions. She's also not unique in experiencing the realities of an imperfect world, yet her reaction to the "realities" she experienced is so extreme and so public. Many other dancers at Bolshoi and other companies world-wide have had similar realities thrown in their face, but how many can snag an interview with the New York Times to vent?

 

What makes Womack unique is her direct line to the press.  This first year professional even has a topic on Ballet Alert!  Why do we even know about her? Womack has used the press and social media successfully to promote herself and now promote her "scandal." In the podcast, she says she has 3 facebook pages, twitter, tumbler, instagram, etc.Unlike traditional media, there is no fact checking, no confirming with independent sources. Reader beware; there is murkiness in her facts. What was her rank? She says she is a soloist in the podcast. Filin says she was in the corps. Was she a member of Bolshoi or was she on production contracts? Then there's the sham marriage that points not to naiveté but looks more like a calculated choice. It makes her anger and "shock" seem disingenuous.

 

What does seem clear is that all the hard work, sacrifice and her calculated choices didn't work out for her at Bolshoi and she's angry and using the media to vent.  Her anger and disappointment are understandable but it seems that a quiet move, without press attention, to a company where she will have opportunities would have been the better choice for her career. Hopefully, she will find peace and opportunity at her new company (the details remain murky here too as she will neither deny or confirm her plans to dance at the Kremlin Ballet).



#98 puppytreats

puppytreats

    Gold Circle

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 751 posts

Posted 20 November 2013 - 09:16 AM

I agree that women all over the world face these sorts of difficulties, probably more so within the world of performing arts, where there are rarely clear guidelines or oversight and where there is enormous competition for roles. I also agree that dancers live and work under terrible conditions all over the world.

 

However, the fact that it happens on a large scale does not mean that it is right, nor does it mean that any dancer is wrong when she points out the injustices that she was subjected to. Giving out roles for money rather than for talent is an injustice, even if Womack doesn't have the talent to get a role without it. Asking for sexual favors in return for roles is an injustice. 

 

It seems to me that Womack has done everything that she can in the situation. She can't take the matter to the police - even in the US that would be an extraordinarily difficult thing to do, with huge amounts of political and financial repercussions. She has secured another situation (and I would point out in a Russian company, so clearly she enjoys and appreciates living in Moscow and doesn't believe that this is a particularly Russian problem). It makes me angry that things like this happen. I wish all the best to Womack and hope she succeeds at the Kremlin ballet. 

I think men and women face these problems.  

 

Many people, including on these boards, seem to be angry with her for complaining about something bad, because it is not unique to her, and everyone else faced it.  Maybe she was taught not give up her seat on the bus.  Maybe she thought she was protecting the other girls and boys by speaking up for them, describing their suffering and inequities.  Maybe they tried to quiet her with threats and she didn't want anyone else subjected to the same suffering that she experienced.  

 

Of course, maybe she could have found a more strategic way to help them if she had not spoken up, or refused to be silent, or lie about things.   



#99 puppytreats

puppytreats

    Gold Circle

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 751 posts

Posted 20 November 2013 - 09:40 AM

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

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

#100 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,001 posts

Posted 20 November 2013 - 11:00 AM

Before moving to Russia I did extensive reading about the requirements for legal working visa and the tax requirements for dual residency or Russian residency as a foreigner and what taxes need to be paid, to whom, at what %, and when. It's not the Bolshoi's responsibility to be aware of US tax law. They are responsible for adhering to tax requirements within their own country only...As a tax resident it should be a flat 13% along with the rest of the country. It is higher for other categories (I have to check as this has changed recently, but I believe it's higher if you have not been in Russia long or are not officially employed, or are a subcontractor etc).

There are treaties, though, that require the taxing authority to tax at a higher rate for foreign nationals resident in their countries, which would make the theater responsible for that withholding for certain types of income. I don't see documentation for contractors, but the treaty rate for the Russian Federation is 25% for pensions, for example, which establishes that the Russian Federation is part of international tax treaties for withholding. I know that between the US and Canada many companies insist on a big tax withholding rate for Canadian residents who contract in the US, despite rulings that this is not required.
 

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


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

I agree that women all over the world face these sorts of difficulties, probably more so within the world of performing arts, where there are rarely clear guidelines or oversight and where there is enormous competition for roles. I also agree that dancers live and work under terrible conditions all over the world.

However, the fact that it happens on a large scale does not mean that it is right, nor does it mean that any dancer is wrong when she points out the injustices that she was subjected to. Giving out roles for money rather than for talent is an injustice, even if Womack doesn't have the talent to get a role without it. Asking for sexual favors in return for roles is an injustice.

Sexual harassment and blackmail are not right, and it is not wrong to point out injustices, no matter how many people are involved. Womack has not accused the theater of of asking for sexual favors in return for roles or sexual harassment by anyone in the theater. She specifically states that she does not accuse Filin of anything.

 

In my list of things that all the dancers faced, men and women, were 1. The attacks on Filin and Yanin and the environment this created 2. The low pay 3. The reality of being a top student in the school with attention and accolades and transitioning to the corps, where featured roles are the rare exception, not the norm, and how every corps member was subject to it. All but the first are legal and expected, and the first she was exposed to as a school member. Womack's complaint that the reality of the Bolshoi didn't match with her teenaged fantasy is not the Bolshoi's problem, and the fact that nearly all dancers faced the same environment, the same low pay, and the same career issues means she's not a special snowflake: she's someone with a lower tolerance point who had a chance to walk (unless she was fired) and opportunities to do something else without uprooting from her country and family. Even so, while walking away and not having a reasonable opportunity to dance is crushing, even if they were faced with non-stop sexual harassment on the job, dancers can walk away, however hard it would be: they are not girls sold into sexual slavery by their families.

Dmitrichenko accused Filin of casting for sex with him (SF), but it is unclear from any of the reporting that's been translated into English at least that Dmitrichenko was making the accusation based on his opinion/observation/personal conversation with the women themselves/hearsay, or whether he made the accusations on behalf of dancers who filed a complaint with him in his role as a union rep. In addition, there is an official news summary above of the initial police investigation, in which the police looked for possible motives, which talks about women who allegedly had sex with Filin, some of which ended badly (a firing for one), but who gave them that information is not disclosed.

Another sexual harassment accusation against the Bolshoi management, most prominently by Anastasia Volochkova about another Bolshoi administration, is that dancers were forced to go to fundraising and post-performance parties and have sex with major donors afterwards. Dancers all over the world are expected to go to fundraising parties and receptions; it is only criminal if the dancers are told that they either have sex with the donors, or their careers will be ruined. Womack does not make this accusation.

Womack has said that a person with whom she had a conversation about her career, and whose name she won't disclose out of respect, told her that she could pay $10K to get a role, or she could find a sponsor to lobby for her. She also says that a man offered to be her sponsor in exchange for sex. Unless the theater would retaliate unless she did -- and she hasn't accused the theater of this -- the theater isn't responsible for the entitlement showed by a member of a class of men for whom a ballerina is an attractive prize.

As far as sponsors are concerned, theater administrators and ADs are on the record as saying that sponsors, boyfriends, etc. are a waste of their time. A sponsor can only try to use influence: while material goods and a nice place to live are entirely within the control of a sponsor, there is no guarantee that having sex with a sponsor will get any dancer any roles, tour opportunities or promotions. As Filin put so directly in court, sleeping with him didn't get his wife any roles or promotions, and he was in direct control of the casting and promotions.

Dmitrichenko accused Filin of financial malfeasance in distributing special funds. So far, he has not accused Filin of taking money for roles, and neither does Womack.

Since Womack hasn't gone into detail about the conversation she had about her career, there's no way to know if it was a cynical remark or part of a long conversation with details of how the entire payoff system worked (or an offer to tell her if she was interested).
 

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

I can only speak for myself, but I am hardly angry with her for complaining. I think she was stupid to think she could throw a Twitter Tantrum, delete the tweets, and make accusations in the press and assume that she could walk away without further comment.
 

Maybe she was taught not give up her seat on the bus. Maybe she thought she was protecting the other girls and boys by speaking up for them, describing their suffering and inequities. Maybe they tried to quiet her with threats and she didn't want anyone else subjected to the same suffering that she experienced.

I see no ways in which she was protecting any of the other "girls and boys" by making an accusation and then attempting to run. It's a blip in the Russian press in the middle of a maelstrom, and it's a pretty lame set of accusations in the midst of all of the others. The Russians don't care what an American says about them; she comes across as another clueless American who thinks life is supposed to be fair and a meritocracy and is trying to impose PC American values on them; the NYT won't have any influence over what happens in Russia. The Bolshoi doesn't care what anyone says about them (except for maybe Novikova, their press representative who must be pulling out her hair). Urin made her look stupid and naive when he told her to put her money where her mouth is with an easy, thoroughly professional dismissal. None of the other American students in the Bolshoi school are walking out and taking their tuition with them.

Womack is no Rosa Parks.



#101 abatt

abatt

    Sapphire Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,536 posts

Posted 20 November 2013 - 11:15 AM

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

 

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



#102 canbelto

canbelto

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,842 posts

Posted 20 November 2013 - 12:17 PM

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



#103 swanchat

swanchat

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 38 posts

Posted 20 November 2013 - 01:16 PM

Well stated Helene on all points.

 

 

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

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

 

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



#104 puppytreats

puppytreats

    Gold Circle

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 751 posts

Posted 20 November 2013 - 01:33 PM

Circumstances could have intervened.  Sometimes people take a principled stand, and then suffer the consequences, and then are beaten into submission.  If someone complaints about sexual harassment, then is abandoned, blacklisted, defamed, can't work....she might eventually be silenced.  It is a war of attrition.  She might have been warned or threatened and then erased her twitter page.  She might do something and then be frightened.  
 
Yes, I agree, Urin is certainly a professional, experienced bureaucrat and manager with excellent advisors, skills and experience.  He greatly outmatches a young girl taught to be obedient.

#105 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,001 posts

Posted 20 November 2013 - 01:49 PM

I don't consider a Twitter tantrum a principled stand or one that was likely to make Womack be taken seriously.  That's still not how the adult world works, unless someone is hacked:  deleting tweets is almost universally considered negatively.  Since she then re-iterated to the press what she said in the tweets within a month, it's hard to argue the threat of retaliation was so overwhelming that she was forced into silence.
 
According to Womack, she left the Bolshoi of her own accord.  (According to one article, she was fired.)  According to several articles she was offered a spot at Kremlin State Ballet, which she refuses to confirm or deny.  If true, that is hardly blacklisting.  The Bolshoi has no sway over other companies, and even if the Russian authorities were to deny her a work visa for Russia, there's little that they can hold over every other company in the world.  Even though in very different times the Paris Opera Ballet succumbed to government pressure not to hire Nureyev upon his defection, for fear of retaliation by the Russian government, the Royal Ballet hired him. The last person to hold that much influence over the ballet world was George Balanchine, and even with the fear of not getting permission to perform any of his ballets if they went near Farrell and Mejia, Bejart hired them anyway.  These companies may not have been the dancers' first choices, but they were able to do incredible work, and Nureyev got to work directly with Ashton and Macmillan, which was hardly shabby.  Womack isn't as important as any of those dancers.


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):