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Stage Right

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Posts posted by Stage Right

  1. My heart sank too when my issue arrived yesterday and I read the news. So sad. Such good, in-depth writing about dance, and ballet in particular, is hard to find. In fact, I can't think of anything to replace Ballet Review at present.  Is it because a certain generation of dance lovers is aging, and the younger generations coming up don't have as much interest in reading print publications with depth analysis of classical art forms? Nor as much interest in volunteering time to such a publication? I hope very much that I'm wrong.

  2. 1 hour ago, Amy Reusch said:

    Okay, this is addressed generally, not specifically to the Martins situation, but given how widespread the MeToo movement now is:  

    If flirtation is equal to harassment, then aren't there many women who have harassed their male co-workers?  Is showing cleavage at work harrassment?  What about the hemline?  How far does this go?  Are women all going to have to don the hajib at work to avoid harassing the men?    Ask the men you know, has a woman ever flirted with them at work?

    I feel anyone who has been repeatedly "hit on" at work, after indicating a lack of interest, has a different situation than the casual flirtation or off color joke... but...  we are talking about a slippery slope here... and there are whole generations of men who have been taught persistence is a virtue.  There are magazine articles out there advising women to never accept the first invitation for a date because it's a turn-off, makes them seem "too easy"...   There is a tremendous amount of subtext in flirtation, and it is possible to misread it.  Some flirtation is never intended to go beyond a smile.

    I believe anyone who has been forced to have sex to keep their job has been horrendously abused and should be protected.  

    On the other hand, I feel Leonard Lopate should have been left in his job at WNYC, and is a victim of the MeToo movement.

    Peter Martins?  I don't know.  I was not there.   Clearly there is something.  Was that something everything everyone has ever accused him of?  I have no idea.  I just don't like the mob justice situation, it makes me nervous.   One should be able to face one's accusers.  How are we to judge these situations where most of the time someone coming forward long after all evidence has disappeared is telling the truth.  Until someone can assure me that 100% of the time no one innocent has ever been accused...  I'm not in a rush to jump to any conclusions.  Let's hear what the investigation turns up.  In the meantime, he has lost his job and his reputation.  


    I have no axe to grind.  I do not think a situations are the exactly the same.

    Thank you, Amy. You have very clearly expressed my thoughts, which I have been unable to articulate nearly so well. 

  3. I am so sorry to hear of this. I once had a lovely experience, back in the 1980s, only a year or so before Balanchine's death, of going into a coffeeshop with a friend, after seeing a performance of Davidsbundlertanze, talking about how wonderful it was, and after sitting down at a table, discovering that we were sitting right next to Balanchine and Karin von Aroldingen! She was facing me, and as recognition of who I was sitting next to dawned on my face, she gave me a lovely smile of acknowledgement. It was a magical moment for me.

  4. It seems to me that there are three very important functions that the person or persons who take over the top position at NYCB would be expected to fulfill:

    1.  Curator of the works of Balanchine and Robbins. Deciding which works to perform, programming issues, keeping up the quality of those works, etc.

    2.  Quality of the dancers and their performing. Including teaching, making sure they are "Balanchine ready" for his works, casting, etc.

    3. Choreography, both their own and that of others, as well as nurturing new choreographic talent within the company.

    This does not include overall management of the company, fundraising, being the 'face' of the company, etc.

    It's a huge job, obviously, requiring widely varied skills. What if there was a 'tripartite', if that's the right word, directorship, with three people, each exceptionally gifted and dedicated to one of these areas, with the other duties spread out between them? It might be very challenging to find those three people, who could all get along and put the good of the company first over individual interests, but what if you could??

  5. 41 minutes ago, aurora said:

    And he beat her and apparently humiliated her by cheating on her with other members of the company (*as per statements in the articles re: the charges against him).

    Lots of people stay in abusive relationships, especially perhaps if, as is the case here, they grew up with an abusive relationship as an example.

    It doesn't negate the fact that they are abusive. 

    Here he was not only her spouse, he was her boss. It would be unusually difficult to leave even had she wanted to.

    Apparently you completely misread what I said. I did NOT say that her marrying him excused any of the abusive behavior! Or that it wasn't there. What I did imply is that it was her choice. We cannot, and should not, legislate people's choices once above the age of consent. It would have perhaps been difficult, but certainly not impossible for Darci to leave. She had a very high-profile place in a very high-profile company, many contacts, and could surely have made a good career/life for herself IF she really wanted to. Most likely she stayed for a complex set of reasons that we cannot know, but that likely include those abusive childhoods. I hope that Darci and Peter both seek out the help they need, and I'm not talking legal help.

  6. Very interesting post just above by its the mom. I won't quote it because it's so long, but this verifies what I was talking about in my first post on the this whole Peter Martins situation. I mentioned that I once had a long discussion with a dance colleague (a highly regarded teacher in NYC) about the dance world as a kind of dysfunctional family. It certainly sounds as if both Darci and Peter came from families that could be described as dysfunctional, and what often happens is that children, both male and female, in such families unwittingly recreate aspects of that dysfunction in their own adult environments, choices and partners.

    Also, both parties were following a pattern already in place at NYCB, that of the "revered director" (first Balanchine) choosing a much younger dancer as a romantic interest and later partner/wife. This does not excuse illegal behavior, of course, but it does shed light on how such things might have been perceived at the time. I recall reading that Suzanne Farrell's mother REALLY wanted her to marry Balanchine, but Suzanne didn't want to....so we can hardly know for sure what it is that all mothers might want, or not, for their daughters. 

    As for Darci, dear reader, she married him! And has stayed with him. 

    And this is my final comment also!

  7. 3 hours ago, On Pointe said:

    Perhaps I'm misremembering,  if that's a word,  but wasn't it Balanchine himself who pushed the Martins-Kistler relationship?  Not that that would absolve Martins of responsibility,  but I don't think we should use terms like statutory rape when we don't know if there was any sexual activity.  Back in those days,  when I was growing up too,  "dating" was not synonymous with having sex.  

    One constant in Martins' troubles is alcohol -  the DUIs,  the assault on Kistler.  He really needs to address his substance abuse issues,  which seem to bedevil his children as well.  Again,  not an excuse,  but perhaps an explanation.

    I don't know what the proper response is to artists who do good,  even great work,  but who are deeply flawed morally.  I mean I still like Woody Allen's movies,  although I have friends who will not watch them because of the odd circumstances of his marriage and his alleged sexual abuse of his daughter.  (In every photo I've seen of the current family,  his adopted daughters' body language speaks volumes - they seem to loathe him.)  It is indeed a quandary,  and I suppose each of us has our own moral lines in the sand.

    I agree with On Pointe. We don't know that "dating" meant a sexual relationship at that time. And people can mean many different things when they say "dating", from regularly turning up at group social events together, to going out alone together, to sexual relationships.....how do we even know what's being referred to? And I agree that it is most likely the substance abuse that is at the core of all this. I hope Martins is able to address that issue; it is huge. I also wonder about any attempt to "purify" the art world--dance and otherwise-- from every behavior we find problematic. Might we end up with rather boring, but "nice" art?  Artists in all art forms have been notorious throughout history for their rather wild and non-conformist behavior.  It is part of the appeal for most people, I think, when reading biographies of famous artists. Many were very troubled people--should we reject their art because of that? As are many non-artists. Let's face it, we all learn and grow though the process of living; all of us have done some things that at the very least we are not proud of, or think back on with regret. Although I certainly don't condone sexual or physical abuse, I still find myself deeply uneasy about trying to legislate every action between men and women, or between those of the same gender, to conform to a certain set of norms that we currently feel are correct. I expect a lot of criticism coming my way in this thread now, but this is how I feel.

  8. 58 minutes ago, aurora said:

    who says he caused anorexia? Not that NYT article. Where are you getting this?

    Well,i t's late and I'm not going back through all the comments, but there were some that implied that, certainly. And this from the NY Times articles;

    "Ashlee Knapp Stewart said she went from being plucked from the school by Mr. Martins at 13 in 2000 and featured in his new ballet “Harmonielehre” to being shamed by Mr. Martins after she went through puberty. Ms. Stewart said she developed an eating disorder, which led to repeated injuries during the remainder of her seven-year tenure.

    “This makes for a very dysfunctional and unhealthy environment,” she added, “especially when the man in charge is reckless with his power.” "

  9. I don't think it is ever correct to "body-shame" someone else in any context. I don't think I said that. What I did say is that it isn't really possible to blame one person's behavior as THE CAUSE of someone else's anorexia, as much as we might like to. It's just too complex an issue. And though many dancers have been "body shamed" by directors, not all develop anorexia. I once danced in a small company in Canada, where even I, a naive 23-year-old, could tell that the director (a woman) was actively promoting and rewarding extreme thinness in the dancers. At least two were anorexic. But I didn't develop anorexia. My roommate did. Why? Who knows?

  10. Again I'm coming late to the thread, but I must comment on the sentence about dancers possibly starving themselves for Martins.  If we say that is true, it is also then true of the director of every other ballet company that exists or has ever existed. Anorexia is a known problem within the dance world, and within the wider world too. Sure, dancers in NYCB become anorexic, but, the vast majority do not. Anorexia is a multi-faceted disease with multiple causes, some physical, some psychological. Yes, the culture of thinness in ballet contributes to it, but that is not unique to ballet. Many young dancers who go into ballet are probably more likely than the average population to develop the disease, but I am not sure one can blame that susceptibility on the director.

  11. 2 hours ago, theo said:

    I would love to see Royal pick up some rolls too.  I just feel a little bad talking about it in a discussion that's about Marcelo and the very upsetting 'circumstances' surrounding him. Perhaps somebody could start a separate conversation about who picks up the TBAs that are there because of Marcelo's departure.   Sorry, if I seem like a party pooper. 

    Theo, I absolutely agree. I've been uncomfortable reading these "replacement" posts, and think they merit a thread of their own. 

  12. 1 hour ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

    If a ballet in some way, shape, or form — e.g., through plot, theme, imagery, body language, what have you — explicitly, implicitly, or uncrtically expresses or embodies something now generally accepted to be reprehensible, then yes, it should be consigned to the archives and left there. I don't care how pretty the steps are, if a ballet were to, say, casually depict violence towards women or reinforce noxious race, religion, or gender-based stereotypes, there's no need to expend blood and treasure to put it on the stage.

    We can start with The Cage

    I wasn't really thinking of ballets like The Cage--you have a good point on that one. I was thinking more of the great classical and Romantic ballets that often portray women as soft, gentle creatures, or as willis, fairies, swans, etc, and men as the strong tough fellows who to some degree influence their fate, or drive them to death and insanity (Giselle), etc. I suppose we could call those gender stereotypes. No overt violence, but it certainly could be seen to lurk under the surface, depending upon your point of view. Do we really want to get rid of all of those, and with what would we replace them?

  13. My goodness I'm coming to this topic late!  And it's taken me so long to peruse this thread! I only want to add a few thoughts floating through my head after all this reading. May I preface this by stating clearly that I have various mixed feelings pro and con about the things I am going to add to the discussion; I am not trying to make any definitive points here. 

    1. I wonder that I haven't seen any discussion of the following: We're talking about NYCB here, George Balanchine, founder, director, choreographer. In his time, notoriously fond of women!!! "Ballet is woman". Multiple marriages.....what about affairs??? (I don't know). How would he have fared in today's environment? Would he have been accused by dancers of inappropriate contact? Of feeling pressure regarding their careers? Would he have ended up being fired or leaving? Would we now have all the wonderful ballets we now love? Does that matter? Would there even be a NYCB run by a Peter Martins? Remember: I take no stance here, I have very mixed feelings about all of these issues. These are just things I wonder about.

    2. Most of the great classical ballets hail from times when views of men and women are very different than they are now. Will they become the monuments that must be torn down? Would that be right or wrong? How would we--you, I--feel about that?

    3. I had a long conversation once with a dance teacher colleague when we discussed how much the ballet world, or ballet companies at any rate, are like dysfunctional families. Everyone participates in one way or another: director, dancers, boards, administrators, etc. By their aggression, by their passivity,, by their silence, by their looking away, by their taking personal advantage. Co-dependents, if you will. We can remove one person, but the problem is much harder to resolve, if indeed it is resolvable.

    4. Physical abuse: there are many kinds of physical abuse. What about the pressure, still, to be very thin? IMO, this can certainly be physically abusive. 

    5. And finally, the whole history of ballet....in some ways, we have come a long way from the early years of dancers being expected to be the "consorts" of powerful men, or, for the corps de ballet dancers, just plain prostitutes.




  14. Perhaps it is not that there aren't very many 'great dancers' now, as that perhaps there are SO many of them! When there are just a few stellar ballet dancers, they get all the attention by the public and the critics and everyone wants to see those few. When there are a great many, the attention by public and critics gets diluted, and thus the 'greats' aren't clearly lionized to the same extent. This could be exacerbated by the number of companies today compared to the "Golden Age", and by our access to international dancers via youtube, et. al. Now mind you, I'm not saying that this is actually my opinion, because I do cling to the memories of those dancers I saw then, but it's just a thought that occurred to me while reading these posts.

  15. Interesting, Sandik. I too, would have to mull that over, wondering what kind of effect that change might have had. And how and why it took place (economics, no doubt). I also wonder if ballet companies now assume that since we all seem more mobile than back in the days of Hurok, et al., that audiences can simply be expected to come to them, rather than vice versa. If there is that assumption, I wonder if it is working out as assumed.


    (Just wanted to add a telling incident here in my small city.... I moved here several years ago, and decided to start a ballet class for adults (not liking 'retirement'), I told a new acquaintance about it. She is a very intelligent woman, a yoga teacher. She looked at me visibly startled, and said, "Ballet for adults? But ballet is just for children!).

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