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Everything posted by kfw

  1. I'm sorry Balanchine sunk that low, and I'm sorry both for Farrell and Mejia, but I don't think a spurned would-be husband's taking his emotions out on the actual husband professionally falls into the same category as sexual harassment, which involves demanding sex.
  2. I’ll say this simply because I don't think it's complicated. More than 20 dancers, including some still in the company, have complained about Peter Martins, with the result that he’s lost his job (2nd DUI or not, he’d still be there if they hadn’t). Perhaps the most beloved dancer of his generation has lost job over an alleged sexual incident that hasn’t even been made public. In the future, it’s likely that some dancers will suffer abuse but be afraid to speak out. But it’s probable that fewer will suffer abuse and more who do will feel emboldened to speak out (with the result that the abusers will lose their jobs and there will be even less abuse). As I said, I don’t think anyone meant to imply violence, but there is a reason that definition is Webster’s third. The first connotes violence, and does so even when no literal violence is implied. That’s how connotations work. For clarifying and resolving issues, the clearer and more accurate words are, the more efficacious they are. Less accurate words are often propaganda.
  3. I know the commonly used word “backlash” isn’t being used to suggest violence but it does have that connotation, so I think it's a word that muddies the waters rather than clarifies them. As someone who’s been happily married and out of the dating game for a good long time, I have no real opinion on the matters Deneuve’s talking about, but she isn’t exacting retribution, much less violent retribution. Also, I love the King quote that “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice,” but as someone with a low anthropology, a pessimistic rather than optimistic view of human nature, I don't think we're ever going to eradicate the abuse of any kind of power. But while it's true that progress often proceeds as two steps forward and one back, if the question is whether or not dancers feel more free to speak out now, I think the evidence suggests they do.
  4. I don't believe I've expressed disagreement with the idea that Martins' victims would probably speak out - several claiming to be victims have in fact done so. (I've also said that I think dancers in general will likely not be intimidated into silence now). Their doing so would, I would think, embolden dancers in similar situations in the future. Except that, given what's happened to Martins - and Gomes - how soon will an AD try anything again?
  5. I don't know why you're confused. Helene wrote that many dancers might shy away from speaking out. That seems unlikely to me and I've explained why.
  6. What I mean is that abuse (or an affair) is unlikely to stay secret, especially in today's climate. A strong sense of justice, and the willingness to take significant personal risks for the sake of justice is a notable asset for any human being and is recognized as such by other good human beings, yourself I'm sure included. This is a moment in which many women, including several dancers, have spoken out about the abuse they've suffered. What started as a trickle became a floodgate, emboldening many others. Why would things reverse now?
  7. It’s true that the MeToo movement is new and that may factor into some dancers’ thinking. But why would the movement fade away? In society at large, women who have spoken out so far have been seen not as troublemakers but as justice seekers – heroes. At NYCB some current dancers have called Martins a good boss, which is good and appropriate of them if in fact he has been (and I don’t doubt them). But how many have explicitly cast doubt on the claims made by dancers of a previous era? As for the board – to which the next AD will report – it expressed hope that Martins could return – why wouldn’t it? – but took the claims serious enough to investigate them. Dancers who speak out now will be considered an asset to anyone in any management capacity who values justice and has basic decency. Misty Copeland didn’t hurt her career when she said she’d encountered racism at ABT (granted, she didn’t name names). Opposition to sexual abuse, like opposition to racism, is something that everyone in public life nowadays has at least to give lip service to.
  8. That's a great big "if" though, especially since dance companies, by all accounts, are big families, where the truth will out. And isn't it at least as likely that any given choreographer or AD will admire and empathize with dancers with the courage to speak up? (I say "courage" because of the embarrassment and [false] shame often involved).
  9. I'm not sure I understand. Are you saying that the interim directors or the next director of NYCB might retard the careers of any NYCB dancer who publicly, or just to the director/s's knowledge, accuses Martins? Because the interim directors might be loyal to Martins? Because the next director . . .what? Or are you talking primarily about dancers in other companies, suggesting that Martins is not the only 21st AD to abuse his power in this way?
  10. I'm echoing KayDenmark's point because I think it's an important one. If you don't disagree, great.
  11. But there is a difference between excusing actions legally or otherwise and not judging a person as a person and that person's career solely on those actions. (And I've not been a fan of Martins since he quit dancing).
  12. Ugh. His Twitter feed is not encouraging either. Paging back as far as September I saw one mention of an afternoon at the Rodin Museum, but everything else was movies and TV.
  13. If a tough class is despotic, then so are high artistic standards, it seems to me. I remember Croce remarking on Martins' easier class, I think during her review of the 1992 Balanchine Celebration: "We are seeing the results." And a lot of longtime observers agreed. As for Tanner's comment, he should know, but that doesn't jibe with reports that Balanchine rarely lost his temper, and more than that it doesn't jibe with the fact that most of his dancers loved him. Wise remarks, IMO.
  14. We've been talking about whether Martins' slept with dancers in his employ (other than Watts and Kistler) and the ethics of his doing so if, as alleged, he did. As for Balanchine, we can surmise that he slept with Geva, whom he had a romantic relationship with, before marriage, and we know he took advantage of Frankfurt when he was drunk and dying. But we don't know that he casually slept with dancers he was not in love with.
  15. Thanks, mnacenani. I'm struck by Anatoly Joukowsky's quote about Balanchine: “He ruined American ballet … He repudiated the spiritual side of dance. He only left the technique and abstract ideas. And just think what he had choreographed before.” Joukowsky is not a dancer I'd heard of before. There is more about him in the Google Books excerpt. It seems he's had a noteworthy post-dancing career, but I'm surprised he would make that statement in 1996. It's possible that, living on the West Coast, he just didn't see much of Balanchine's work in New York. We have plenty of West Coast posters here - I'd be interested in knowing more about Joukowsky.
  16. I understand the embarrassment, but nothing looks coy to me danced to Mayuzumi's score.
  17. Er, good point. I must have been thinking of Tod und Verklärung. Not that I remember it. His operas are what I listen to.
  18. I love it. Are Japanese or Japanese-American balletgoers expressing discomfort or offense, and giving explanations for why? I think that's what it would take for me to, regrettably, reconsider my position here. Kathleen, I knew you weren't saying Balanchine meant to be demeaning, and I meant to say so but forgot to. Sorry.
  19. You don't think they'll be playing Verklärte Nacht any year soon? I live in hope!
  20. Several dancers and dance world insiders are reporting her death on their Instagram accounts. How very sad. Here she is being interviewed for the Balanchine Foundation on Davidsbundlertanze.
  21. True, but my point is that in Japanese dress they arguably pay tribute to and do not on the contrary demean Japanese court dance or culture. I agree with most of what you write here, and to my eye, while I love the ballet (and the electronics in the score), it has its awkward and unconvincing moments. But my question is why it should not be performed or should only be performed stripped of what inspired it. Some of the steps look like parody to you; my mileage does vary, but no matter – even if I saw them the same way, that alone would not be reason, in my opinion, to deep six or alter a ballet which we agree was intended (at least in part) in tribute. This thread has been about what ballets should not be performed because they are offensive. Are we now saying that a failed homage is offensive? The other issue with doing the ballet in leotards sans set, or sans that set, is that it would be the first instance, at least that I’m aware, of anyone radically altering a Balanchine ballet after his death, i.e. without his input (unless one counts the change in Tea, a much smaller change). Yes there have been set and costume changes to other ballets (have any of these ever been a critical or popular success?), but none I’m aware of that radically alter the look and tone of the ballet, or strip it of a previously integral element. Do we really want to go down that road? ETA: I guess the MCB Nutcracker production is pretty radical in looks, but it's in the same spirit.
  22. I think the costumes contribute to some of those things, but in any case I'm asking why it should not be done as is.
  23. Thanks for the interesting reply, l'histoire. Making Bugaku another leotard ballet – not that I don’t love a lot of those – would obviously take away a lot of its atmosphere. It would take away the context, making it less of a story. If I read you correctly, you think the ballet presents “the Orient” in a ridiculous fashion. I’m open to persuasion, but how do you think it does that? Are you saying that it perpetuates an already existing stereotype of Japanese women as subservient sex toys? (I just watched it again and I’m not even sure I see the subservience). In that case, where else do we see that stereotype? Or are you saying it’s just one more negative depiction? That it’s an unrealistic depiction of a court wedding and consummation? Isn't subservience itself true to history in the East as in the West? Or where in the ballet is the suggestion that the work is supposed to be a contemporary depiction of male-female relationships? The Balanchine Trust writes that “The red, green, and white of the setting, the balanced dances to the left and the right, the stylized movement, the ritualistic mood, the respect shown for the dance, and the supreme courtesy of the dancers to each other are faithful to Gagaku traditions.” Do you disagree? (And shouldn’t they have said “bugaku,” “gagaku” being the musical accompaniment?) As has been observed here, the ballet was born out of Kirstein’s appreciation for Gagaku, and it has a score by a Japanese composer. Have you seen any Japanese objections to it? Granted, it’s probably very little known in Japan. Even if it’s a Westerner’s relatively ignorant fantasy of Japanese culture, which I can understand might irritate knowledgeable observers, it’s still meant as a tribute, not as a belittlement. I appreciate that as a professional in Asian studies this is all of concern to you, but I think that by-and-large the ballet audience is pretty educated, not to mention well-traveled, and judging from BA it’s pretty progressive too. I’m not so worried about it uncritically absorbing negative attitudes. From what I can tell, the prevailing stereotype about Japanese and other Asian people nowadays is that they’re smart and very hard-working. I see that pherank has written since I saw your post, and has asked interesting questions as well.
  24. What a great playlist, Quiggin. If you haven't read it, Ben Ratliff's "Coltrane: the story of a sound" is an excellent study. I saw McCoy Tyner at the Library of Congress last month, btw. He only plays 3-4 tunes these days, but his band, which included Joe Lovano this last time, comes out early and is exciting all by itself. Beethoven's late sonatas are my favorite and I was fortunate to hear Richard Goode play #28 in October.
  25. It hardly excuses it, no, but it gives some grounds for empathy at a time when he's down and easy to kick (and I say that as someone who's never been a supporter). Thanks for posting it. ETA: Not that I'm knocking anyone for criticizing him.
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