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Peter Martins Sexual Harassment Allegations

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I agree with all of those points.

1 minute ago, yukionna4869 said:

Doesn’t she still teach at SAB? She probably reports to Mazzo who then reports to Martins. I’m suppose this is Ok?

Either it's not a policy at SAB, or they are only talking about direct reports or a certain number of reporting levels.

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1 hour ago, kfw said:

Is that a standard business term? If not it's just bad writing. A subordinate by definition reports to the supervisor, so the company could have omitted the phrase. 

Yes, "reporting relationship" is standard corporate terminology. 

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1 minute ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

Yes, "reporting relationship" is standard corporate terminology. 

Thank you Kathleen, Sandik, and Helene. The next time a Fortune 500 company comes calling, i'll know the lingo. :lol:

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How about bringing Nikolaj Hubbe back to NY from Denmark? Just so he doesn't restage Midsummer Dream or Nutcracker in modern dress. :devil:

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15 minutes ago, yukionna4869 said:

Doesn’t she still teach at SAB? She probably reports to Mazzo who then reports to Martins. I’m suppose this is Ok?

I think each organization's approach to this policy is different. In mine, even with Mazzo as an intermediary (in a chain like Kistler --> Mazzo --> Martins) would be against the rule as you cannot have any relationships in a reporting chain since (using this example) Martins could still instruct Mazzo to act in ways that favor Kistler. Something to get around this would be to have Kistler report to Mazzo who reports to Stafford (Kistler --> Mazzo --> Stafford), and it just stops there, but that is even difficult since Martins and Stafford are not on the same level. However, they may just have an issue with direct reports, so having an intermediary may be all they need to be in line with the policy.

In terms of other possibilities, Margaret Tracey has been the director of Boston Ballet's school for the past ten years, so she has experience running a school and teaching (though no AD experience unless I am mistaken).

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4 minutes ago, wonderwall said:

In terms of other possibilities, Margaret Tracey has been the director of Boston Ballet's school for the past ten years, so she has experience running a school and teaching (though no AD experience unless I am mistaken).

Ex-board member Robert Gottlieb would blow a gasket at that one. ("There's a rumor that she may teach. Teach what?")

 

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6 minutes ago, dirac said:

Ex-board member Robert Gottlieb would blow a gasket at that one. ("There's a rumor that she may teach. Teach what?")

 

Oh, wow! For all those interested, this thread goes into it. I guess Gottleib also had a bumpy departure from the board after going head to head with Martins (based on what was allowed to be written/posted in that older thread).

Back to this thread: Would Sean Lavery ever come back to NYCB to be an AD? At one point, wasn't he second in command to Martins?

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1 hour ago, Tapfan said:

I know he's a bit long-in-the-tooth, but how about Arthur Mitchell as a replacement? That'd shake things up a bit. And considering the company's not so long ago rep for having been weak on the diversity front, it's poetic.

I love Arthur Mitchell, but his loyalty to Dance Theater of Harlem needs to be central to the rest of his career.  And I think it might be time to look at the generation that came up as/after Balanchine died.

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51 minutes ago, kfw said:

Thank you Kathleen, Sandik, and Helene. The next time a Fortune 500 company comes calling, i'll know the lingo. :lol:

Just one of many shibboleths, but there you go...

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I personally don't have a problem with the AD or a choreographer being married to a dancer, or even sleeping with dancers while married to another. From the point of view of an audience member, I want to see a great performance, and I don't give much thought to how casting decisions are made, as long as they are good... and currently, at NYCB, they (mostly) are good, IMHO. Harassment is something else. (Let alone the question of minors... I am fervently hoping that there is absolutely nothing to that possibility.) About a year ago, I saw a working dress rehearsal for Sleeping Beauty, where Martins was coaching some of the dancers. He was constantly putting his hands on the women, and I don't mean for the purpose of correcting them. Rubbing the dancer's arm while saying something to her, insisting on grabbing and holding the dancer's hand as he spoke to the audience, squeezing the back of a dancer's neck as she left the stage, etc. This was only the women - he left the men alone. I found it positively nauseating, and my heart sank to think they have to live with this. 

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11 minutes ago, cobweb said:

About a year ago, I saw a working dress rehearsal for Sleeping Beauty, where Martins was coaching some of the dancers. He was constantly putting his hands on the women, and I don't mean for the purpose of correcting them. Rubbing the dancer's arm while saying something to her, insisting on grabbing and holding the dancer's hand as he spoke to the audience, squeezing the back of a dancer's neck as she left the stage, etc. This was only the women - he left the men alone. I found it positively nauseating, and my heart sank to think they have to live with this. 

Dancers are touchy people, and by this I don't mean that they offend easily.  They are accustomed to touching and being touched.  By the time you're a professional, you've come of age in an environment where much of the information you get comes through physical contact.  Behavior that would get you fired in a heartbeat somewhere in the rest of the world is a standard practice in the dance community.  That's what is making this issue so difficult to parse -- "good touch" and "bad touch" cover different territory here. 

Having said that, I'm not insinuating that people in power haven't preyed on those with none, either deliberately or accidentally.  I'm just saying it's hard to tell looking in from outside.

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5 minutes ago, cobweb said:

I personally don't have a problem with the AD or a choreographer being married to a dancer, or even sleeping with dancers while married to another. From the point of view of an audience member, I want to see a great performance, and I don't give much thought to how casting decisions are made, as long as they are good... and currently, at NYCB, they (mostly) are good, IMHO. Harassment is something else. (Let alone the question of minors... I am fervently hoping that there is absolutely nothing to that possibility.) About a year ago, I saw a working dress rehearsal for Sleeping Beauty, where Martins was coaching some of the dancers. He was constantly putting his hands on the women, and I don't mean for the purpose of correcting them. Rubbing the dancer's arm while saying something to her, insisting on grabbing and holding the dancer's hand as he spoke to the audience, squeezing the back of a dancer's neck as she left the stage, etc. This was only the women - he left the men alone. I found it positively nauseating, and my heart sank to think they have to live with this. 

Interesting take on this cobweb. Back in the day, when I danced professionally, every director I ever had did some of the things you mentioned (holding a hand, taking an arm etc.) Some of these were gay men. I never took offense or felt put upon. I took it as a sign of encouragement or approval of what I'd done, or even a tempering of what could be considered a harsh correction. Dance being a physical art is part of it. I truly didn't know a dancer who was offended by such actions. If said director had been inappropriate with me in private, these small physical gestures would have taken on a different meaning. Maybe that is sometimes the case. It was never was for me. I'd be interested in other opinions because I've never even thought about this before, even when experiencing or witnessing it.

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10 minutes ago, cobweb said:

I personally don't have a problem with the AD or a choreographer being married to a dancer, or even sleeping with dancers while married to another. From the point of view of an audience member, I want to see a great performance, and I don't give much thought to how casting decisions are made, as long as they are good... and currently, at NYCB, they (mostly) are good, IMHO. Harassment is something else. (Let alone the question of minors... I am fervently hoping that there is absolutely nothing to that possibility.) About a year ago, I saw a working dress rehearsal for Sleeping Beauty, where Martins was coaching some of the dancers. He was constantly putting his hands on the women, and I don't mean for the purpose of correcting them. Rubbing the dancer's arm while saying something to her, insisting on grabbing and holding the dancer's hand as he spoke to the audience, squeezing the back of a dancer's neck as she left the stage, etc. This was only the women - he left the men alone. I found it positively nauseating, and my heart sank to think they have to live with this. 

Hmm I've also seen working dresses with Peter and while I did notice the touchiness I also noticed that the women in general are very blase about it. Like they don't even seem to notice him. They go about their business as if he weren't there. So ... it might be a coping mechanism. Or it might be that the dance world is very touchy feely and the norms about personal space don't apply as much to dance. I have noticed in general that dancers are often very touchy with each other. 

I think that there's a difference between harassment and being a "ladies man." One is illegal, the other is simply immoral.

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6 minutes ago, canbelto said:

I think that there's a difference between harassment and being a "ladies man." One is illegal, the other is simply immoral.

From a legal standpoint, that distinction is not particularly relevant in an employment situation.  And I don't see anything immoral about being a "ladies man" outside an employment situation and where all of the people involved are informed and consenting adults.

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If non sexual touching during a coaching or training session is going to be taken to extremes, then that will spell the end of ballet.  Political correctness or fear of lawsuits will doom the essential partnering that is central to ballet.

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8 hours ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

Martins is living proof that NYCB's AD doesn't need to be a choreographer.

This could easily compete for the title of 'Greatest Comment Ever Made at Ballet Alert!' :wink:

4 hours ago, vipa said:

IMO it would be nice to see a women in the position and there are a lot of women to consider - Suzanne Farrell, Patricia McBride, Pat Neary,

 

1 hour ago, Tapfan said:

I know he's a bit long-in-the-tooth, but how about Arthur Mitchell as a replacement?

Farrell is 72 and closing down her namesake company. McBride is 75 and is transitioning out of her company in North Carolina. Pat Neary is going strong as a stager but she too is 75. Arthur Mitchell is 83. At this point, I have to think that this generation has had its moment in the sun and the board will go with someone from a younger generation.

 

 

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20 minutes ago, sandik said:

Dancers are touchy people, and by this I don't mean that they offend easily.  They are accustomed to touching and being touched.  By the time you're a professional, you've come of age in an environment where much of the information you get comes through physical contact.  Behavior that would get you fired in a heartbeat somewhere in the rest of the world is a standard practice in the dance community.  That's what is making this issue so difficult to parse -- "good touch" and "bad touch" cover different territory here. 

I once saw Peter Martins rehearse Nilas and Kistler in Apollo. At one point in the pas de deux, Peter took Nilas' hands and put them lower on his (Peter's) wife abdomen. It was all in the job. 

 

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2 minutes ago, kfw said:

I once saw Peter Martins rehearse Nilas and Kistler in Apollo. At one point in the pas de deux, Peter took Nilas' hands and put them lower on his (Peter's) wife abdomen. It was all in the job.

Indeed.  And yet, I can certainly believe that he's been involved in action that was not "in the job."

My standard reply lately seems to be that I'm sad, but I'm not surprised.  That applies here.

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2 minutes ago, abatt said:

If non sexual touching during a coaching or training session is going to be taken to extremes, then that will spell the end of ballet.  Political correctness or fear of lawsuits will doom the essential partnering that is central to ballet.

I read an interview in a French publication with Sebastien Marcovici where he said how hard it is to teach ballet in America because you literally cannot physically touch the students.  Imagine trying to correct a child's sickled foot with only words, you'd have to be very articulate and the kid would have to be very physically aware.

I would like to know if apprentices or company members ever have any training about "workplace harassment."  Given that ballet has a different set of rules it would be beneficial for it to be spelled out, exactly what can be considered harassment so dancers know their rights and everyone knows where they stand. 

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19 minutes ago, FITTB85 said:

I read an interview in a French publication with Sebastien Marcovici where he said how hard it is to teach ballet in America because you literally cannot physically touch the students.  Imagine trying to correct a child's sickled foot with only words, you'd have to be very articulate and the kid would have to be very physically aware.

I would like to know if apprentices or company members ever have any training about "workplace harassment."  Given that ballet has a different set of rules it would be beneficial for it to be spelled out, exactly what can be considered harassment so dancers know their rights and everyone knows where they stand. 

The teachers at my dd's school are hands on when it comes to corrections; are you saying this isn't common in the US? (we are in the US to be clear) As you said, I'm not sure how else you could properly teach?

Edited by Balletwannabe

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3 minutes ago, Balletwannabe said:

The teachers at my dd's school are hands on when it comes to corrections; are you saying this isn't common in the US? (we are in the US to be clear) As you said, I'm not sure how else you could properly teach?

I think hands on is common. I've never been in, taught, or watched a class in which a teacher didn't fix a foot, shape a hand, etc. etc. etc. 

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Many schools have a contract that the student is to sign including something to the effect that he or she understands that touching by the instructor is often necessary in ballet for giving corrections and guiding the student.

 

 

 

 

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It depends on the school.  There are schools that make parents sign forms which inform them that if they sign up their children for classes, they can expect hands on instruction.

I don't have any stats on the demographics here, but I suspect many of us are old enough to remember when grown women were "girls" and the casually handsy norms at work and socially from that time would be red flags to many of us now.  

ETA:  I need to type faster ;)

 

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At the moment, there's no word on the nature of the sexual harassment charges leveled against Martins, and as the physical nature of dance instruction and its "hands-on" approach are endemic to the art, I seriously doubt it would have merited such serious charges.  What struck me in the NY Times article was the following sentence:

"In recent interviews, two former City Ballet dancers and three former students at the school described a culture in which Mr. Martins was known for sleeping with dancers, some of whom received better roles because of their personal relationships with him."   

This seems to be a description of classic quid pro quo sexual harassment, which creates a hostile work environment and if proven can lead to the firing of the harasser and/or monetary damages to the victim, and more.  I imagine the charges against Martins - specifically described as sexual harassment - would stem more from this sort of incident or incidents than any touching or rubbing during class or coaching.

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