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Everything posted by swanchat

  1. So glad to see Francesca Hayward's promotion. She's an lovely dancer with beautiful lines, lovely stage presence and has immense talent! Interesting to see the promotions and joiners of dancers trained at the RBS. Seems that the link between the company and the school may be stronger than in recent years.
  2. From the Royal Ballet School Website: Here's the link : http://www.royalballetschool.org.uk/2014/04/gailene-stock-1946-2014/ Her legacy of so many dancers living their dream will live forever.
  3. Taylor Stanley is an AA who rapidly rose to soloist with NYCB and is a fabulous dancer! ETA: Taylor is male (not sure if the discussion is only about female AA dancers in NYCB)
  4. I'm so glad to see Francesca Hayward being given the role of Clara and this world-wide exposure. She is a lovely dancer, lovely lines, lovely quality!
  5. OK, so I'm confused again... Her beloved Russian husband? Isn't she now divorced? Didn't she marry against the wishes of her family because she was marrying to further (she thought) her career? - not the first time this was ever done, but "beloved" hardly seems to fit if this is the case..... ETA: The link just has a trailer and it looks to me like her usual social media promotion. Under news it says something about the film being admitted to a film festival (Sept). The links to Q&A don't answer a lot of the confusion either. Was she married when this was filmed? It just talks about them being "sweethearts." And although under news, the Asian competition win is there, no mention is made of her career move. Honestly, I'm not sure I really care to know the answers anyway. My impression is that an idealistic, talented teenager who accomplished a great deal at a very young age failed (for whatever reasons) at achieving a very unrealistic dream (to become a principal at the esteemed and very inbred Bolshoi Ballet). Like many child prodigies, things didn't work out as planned. The interesting story is more about what happens next.For a happy ending, she just needs to move on, get back to the daily drudgery of class and hopefully rehearsals in any roles (corps or soloist) and put her life back together and it will be a lot easier to do this without putting herself in under the microscope of social media.
  6. Thank you for the clarification. Things are a little blurry in this situation.
  7. I can't judge (don't have the expertise or experience of watching either Kampa or Womack live) but there are differences. Keenan is older and had two years of professional experience when she joined the Mariinsky; Womack was fresh out of school. The AD of Boston Ballet called Kampa a major talent unlike the AD of Bolshoi who called Womack "persistent." In BB's online literature, Kampa is also quoted as understanding the need to "fit in" the corps. Womack says she's been told she doesn't fit in the corps and uses this as an excuse to say she's only fit for solo roles. Kampa's also quoted on the BB site, “I’ve been struggling with only doing corps stuff, freaking myself out a little from not being able to do solo stuff, worried I might lose that part of my artistry and technique,’’ ... “But after class, I sometimes work on my own.’’ Then this, "she is happy the company offers much more room for promotion than she would have had if she had stayed in Russia. In addition to corps work, she’s rehearsing an “Arabian’’ solo that she might perform in “The Nutcracker.’’ I read the last statement as she was covering "Arabian" and hoping to have the opportunity to do it. Keenan was working and under contract with BB when the Mariinsky offered her a contract fulfilling her life-long dream to work at the Mariinsky. If the "Kampa Madness" has tempered, it will be interesting to see if this level-headedness will get her through slugging it out in the corps there. That experience is not unique to Russia.
  8. If she's as good as the review (and I have no reason to doubt that she is), then the advice given earlier by several on this thread to get back to the barre, spend energy getting to the top of her game instead of giving meaningless interviews is the best thing she could do. That, and accept that no matter how talented or what roles she had in school, she needs to prove herself to a director by working to fit into the company, do what is necessary to become a valuable member of the company starting with corps work, show that she can pick up choreography quickly and when cast to cover roles, learn happily while in the back. For goodness sake, someone with the sort of talent that Natalia describes doesn't need to beg for solo roles but when young, these talents need to be savvy enough to become a trusted, valued company member before they should expect to be in featured roles.
  9. An article stated? Was this Womack's statement being quoted? or was the article quoting someone collaborating this threat? So far, I haven't read about anyone who has stepped up who has witnessed threatening statements. Characterizing Filin's lawyers statements are not collaborating threatening statements. Since she's touring within Russia currently and seems to plan to stay there, she is apparently not feeling terribly threatened. She has a US passport (unless she renounced her citizenship) and can leave when she wants to. This is not the old USSR. No, her goal was to be the first US Principal at the Bolshoi according to her social media. Things didn't work out. She made accusations that she's unwilling to pursue officially. I do think that hers is a cautionary story for any non-Russian who is thinking of dancing at the Bolshoi. It's not an easy place to have a career and advance through the ranks. If they owed her money, it's not about her reputation. It's about the employer living up to the contract. I have to respectfully disagree with your statement that few places of employment are by the books. Most are. Many ballet companies are also "union" houses. The rules are explicit and the remedies for non-compliance are clear. These are not Ivy halls or idealistic places. They are businesses. As I stated earlier, she returned for a second year. Why would she come back if she wasn't paid? It makes no sense- like many of the inconsistencies in this mess.
  10. It's ok to dislike the way things are done but I don't see how any of us here are going to change the way things are done at the Bolshoi. I don't think one 19 year old disgruntled American dancer who makes allegations that she's unwilling to pursue with officials is going to change "the way things are done" at the Bolshoi. There is a difference... those US immigrants stood up for their rights in many cases and took to the courts or went to the police. Without being willing to name the people who commit the offenses, people are able to hide behind the "way things are" argument. Until this happens internally and the management decides to change, the situation will not change. IMO, it will take brave Russian dancers to insist that changes happen but given the recent departure of their stars maybe it's just easier to leave.
  11. Who threatened her? Did she name those who threatened her? Filin gave her advice that she didn't like but I didn't read that he threatened her. She adds more to every interview but they are her words, her views. No way to substantiate them as she refuses to file a formal complaint or go to the authorities. Maybe she didn't like Filin's advice and complained of extortion. Maybe she didn't like the advice to be silent and said it was a threat, who knows? If I were threatened, I would go to the authorities. If I were her parent, I would insist that she go to the authorities and ask for protection. If she feels unsafe in doing so, then she might want to reconsider where she's chosen to live. Which brings us to the whole, that's the way it is in Russia thing. As outsiders, it's really not our privilege or responsibilty or opportunity to say when it doesn't fly anymore. As an American, she's an outsider, even if the sham marriage makes her a Russian citizen. Any changes at the Bolshoi will only happen when those in power (both at the company and from the state perspective) decide to change. The complaints of a disgruntled dancer will not cause that change. Unless she's willing to make formal charges of extortion and threats, no one is going to listen.
  12. I think this is sound advice for her since she's unwilling to make an official complaint. The following is another example of inconsistencies in her story and these sorts of things are exactly why people are questioning and searching for facts. Not boredom, or a bad day at work but the whole mess is just too murky to believe without questions.
  13. No, according to her, she accepted a job at the Bolshoi right after she graduated in 2012 (2012-2013) season and returned for the 2013-2014 season. If she wasn't being paid, why on earth would she return? It sounds like she was on some sort of production contract where payment is due only upon being cast, rehearsing and dancing in a production. According to her, she only danced 6-7 times while at the Bolshoi. If she was only paid as a production contract employee, she probably was running on vapors. Putting emotions and dreams aside, no money means it's time to move on. Production contracts aren't unusual in large companies. POB among others award these. I've known a couple of dancers trained other than the POBS who dreamed of dancing at POB, accepted the contract and then weren't used enough to stay and moved on, quietly. If she was on a regular contract and wasn't paid regularly, then after the 2nd missed payment, she should have lodged a formal complaint, requested her pay and left with her training and company affiliation on her resume. She wasn't enslaved. She could have and probably should have walked away long before now. If she felt tormented, no one was holding her there. If you insist that she was prostituted, look at the facts, it seems that she prostituted herself to become a Russian citizen. If she was discriminated against for being American, she must have known the bias going in... she had been in Russia for 3 years. ETA: withholding taxes is not stealing. (It might feel like it, but that's another conversation!) I am not being cavalier, accusations of these sort of are highly disturbing to anyone who loves ballet, has a family member in the field or is or was in the field themselves. Without making a formal complaint no one can make an informed judgement about her statements. The criticism is not that she is angry, it's that she's inconsistent, unwilling to follow through with her accusation and instead of trying to keep the hype going, just needs to move on and be quiet unless she's willing to see the accusation through. The press is not the place to file a complaint.
  14. If she wasn't paid, she should have left long ago. Professional dancers expect to be paid for their work. She seemed so intent on making her dreams come true that she didn't do what reasonable people would do. Or maybe she was so publicly invested in the dream to be the "First American principal dancer" that she just didn't know how to let go and save face. Right now, it seems that she is her own worst enemy. Continuing to make these accusations and broaden them without taking official action just makes her appear more immature, more whiny and more like a disgruntled employee (which she is). If she was being threatened and extorted then she should make an official complaint, otherwise, she should use your 1st suggestion of staying silent (as she said she would). She's gone from the Bolshoi, sour grapes doesn't help her and isn't going to change the environment there. The Bolshoi doesn't seem to care about her and this story is getting stale. She's not convincing, her own social media has inconsistencies that don't make her credible. The story will die (thankfully for her) and she needs to stop giving interviews about this and set about the business of finding a director that is brave enough to take an employee with a history of venting anger to the press and who will give her the chance to regroup and hopefully, will let her start with less hype as a member of the corps and earn solo roles instead of begging for them.
  15. Of course, it's stupidity. Of course, it's wrong. Hopefully, as Russia opens up to the rest of the civilized world, those sentiments will go away. My point was not to make excuses and I'm sorry if it came off that way. My point is that cultural differences exist. Some of those differences are abhorrent to other cultures. Certainly, asking someone to bleach off their color is sheer ignorance. Precious sounds to me like she's handling the slurs in the context of the culture in Russia and making the best of the situation. She may not change the entire culture's approach to racial difference but if she handles herself with professionalism and dignity, she may just change a few biases right there in that school. She's a ground breaker in her own right.
  16. We here in the US know that this is just not right. It's terrible but Russia isn't the USA. It's not exactly friendly to gay men either. Before going to a different culture, it does make sense to know a bit about what lies in store. Unlike Womack, Precious has already figured out that she will look elsewhere to start her career. She also said that she was warned about the probability/possibility of racial bias there and not to take it personally. She states that she's there for the training. Good words. Now she just needs to keep her nose to the grindstone and hand on the barre and take every bit of training she can. A good work ethic and focused attitude will take her far and might even change a few of those biased against her. You can't control the wind but you can adjust the sails.
  17. Chewing all this over, I keep coming up with one word. Accountability. Sure, she's 19 and still developing those brain cells but to paint her as an innocent player in this doesn't fit the picture. She screams "extortion" but when told to make a complaint, she refuses. She may have her reasons, if so then she should have stayed quiet, moved on and saved the story for a later time. She marries someone for her own convenience and then decides it's not what she wanted; so it seems she used a boy (who I hope knew what he had agreed to) for her own purposes. She makes inconsistent statements, including that she was a soloist instead of the fact that she was in the corps. Social media is not given "under oath" but it is in writing or video and very accessible so inconsistent statements only serve to destroy credibility. When you add all of this together, it's picture of a girl obsessed with a country, a culture and ballet company and her dream of taking all of those entities by storm- no matter what the cost or who is used in the process. And when it doesn't work out according to the dream, she accuses the organization of crimes. The organization should take that accusation seriously. Since she made the statement of her own volition (she wasn't threatened), she should be accountable for the accusation. If the accusations were proved, she would be venerated and the person(s) saying that to her should be held accountable. Her only action thus far has been to cry wolf to the press. Her parents should hold her accountable for her questionable life decisions. I'm assuming it was THEIR investment and for the girl to agree to that salary was a very poor return on that investment. Her teachers should have instilled in her the proper manner in which to conduct herself as a professional. In most cases, it's just not considered appropriate to "beg for solo roles" when you are a new dancer. It's not even expected that new dancers will be cast in these large companies. Her teachers should be held accountable or if they did try to instill professional behavior in her, then Womack should be held accountable for being unprofessional. As someone said earlier, there are lots of 18/19/20 year olds working professionally worldwide and the majority aren't begging for solos. They are just happy to be working! Her "fans" on the various social media outlets should hold her accountable for her conflicting statements. So, while her inconsistencies and unwise rants in the media may be a reflection of her still growing brain, the consequences can't be shoved under the rug because she's "still growing." As far as accepting her and her parent's use of social media to promote her career, it may "branding" but it still puts a great deal of pressure on young, still developing dancers to live up to the hype. Maybe she felt the need to make the accusations to explain her lack of success because of how public her journey was from such a young age. Gee, wouldn't it have been less traumatic for this girl if she could have quietly moved on to another job to see if she fared better? Maybe she felt the need to make the accusations to explain her lack of success because of how public her journey was from such a young age. Maybe branding and using various social media outlets is a useful tool for those who have gained some experience, good reviews and are beginning to attract a fan base but I think it's a very tool dangerous for children, adolescents and young adolescent adults. These young folks should be allowed to try and fail much less publicly and failure is a part of learning, especially in this age group. I have empathy for this girl, she's been in the public eye (of her own choosing- but still...) and she's made unwise choices publicly and it seems as if the situation got out of control for her. I really hope that she "disappears" from the public eye for a while, goes back to the barre, learns from the experience and is able to find a situation that makes her and her employer happy.
  18. I certainly agree that she's still a kid. I'm sorry her dreams didn't come true. It happens. Failure is a potential learning experience and those who learn and grow from it become successful. For me, it's not her disillusionment or the fact that she made what seems to be some poor life and career choices. I just that I get a bit testy when these kids use social media for self-exaltation long before accolades are truly deserved. In this case, it is remarkable that she was able to secure a spot at one of the world's most recognizable name schools at such a young age. That is certainly something to be proud of and if, in adolescent fashion, she wants to use social media to brag then who's to argue that she shouldn't. Likewise, the awarding of the school's highest honor is something to be proud of and again, in adolescent fashion in this day and age, bragging in social media is part of their lives. Social media is not vetted information. It's what the author wants to portray and I get irritated when I feel that what's being portrayed isn't exactly true and yet, it's put out there as fact. Here's the thing though, a great many of these social media savvy kids have parents either doing this PR for them or contribute in large part and they should know better. A quick look at the Bolshoi School Facebook page shows several entries from a parent in this case. It is a double edged sword and the pressure that is heaped on these kids to live up to their own hype is immense. Not every kid who found great success as a student goes on to find the same success as a professional - in any field, much less the fickle field of ballet and the double edged sword of social media leaves these kids so vulnerable when things don't go well, or as planned, or dreamed. When things don't turn out as planned, the pattern of going to social media and even traditional media is established and these adult-adolescents use these tools to whine, complain, make excuses and throw "twitter-tantrums." This is just not a good thing as many will read these social media tantrums and not even question what's being put out there. In this case, there are more than a few inconsistencies. Understandable that it's adolescent inconsistency but it's also understandable that adults and folks who are thinking critically would question the hype. She and her parents chose to use media to promote her, now they are using media when things haven't gone well. Those who should be protecting her have only made her more vulnerable. As I've said before, someone with maturity needs to counsel this girl to be quiet now. The ruckus would die down in due course and she could go on with her career. There are lots of 19/20 year olds at the beginning of their career who have not chosen to be at the mercy of social media and self-promotion who will go on to have long and fulfilling careers; she might do well to consider joining their ranks. ETA: Kids would be well informed if they were taught not to believe everything you read (especially in social media) and that you will know you are doing something special when other people are talking about you instead of you hyping yourself! Parents of aspiring dancers and young professionals should learn from this and understand their role in protecting instead of promoting adolescents and young adults.
  19. This whole affair is just murky. She was hired into the corps according to her own statements on social media, the AD says she was in the corps but she calls herself a soloist. And she says in many interviews that she asked/begged for featured roles. That's pretty cheeky for a brand new, just out of school dancer. It looks like she danced one night in a solo role in Nutcracker. Many corps dancers are given the opportunity to cover and ultimately dance a solo role. It's a chance for the dancer to show that they can handle being out there in the spotlight alone. One solo role doesn't make anyone a soloist. And now she says she begged to dance in the corps. If she was told she didn't fit in the corps, that's not a good thing in any company- large,small, Russian or anywhere else in the world. It's not a compliment; it makes a dancer less likely to be used. The hard facts that aren't murky are that she didn't dance in the corps or as a soloist to any great degree while she was at the Bolshoi, no matter what rank she describes herself to be. Patience would have been a virtue. She was a new dancer in a very large company. There is a lot of standing around, waiting and hoping in this situation. New dancers are wise to learn every single spot in the corps when they are called to rehearsals. It's not assumed that new dancers will dance corps roles at all and every single person standing in the back (in reserve and on the sidelines) is just hoping for the chance to go in at a moments notice and dance in the corps. And this new interview? Goodness, someone please save this girl and tell her to be quiet now. She's made accusations which she doesn't look prepared to take any further than the press. She's quit her job or she was fired according to one article. She's thrown her twitter tantrum. And in the process, she has burned bridges and potentially hurt her future ability to be employed. She's not Svetlana Zakharova, or Natalia Osipova; she's a new graduate with unrealistic expectations. The Bolshoi has bigger issues to deal with at the moment; I'm sure they have moved on- Womack would be wise to do the same.
  20. I wondered the same thing. The only thing a google search shows up is on her springform site; she states that she got the red diploma and goes on to state that Nastia Limenko also received a red diploma. She also states that Nastia Limenko went to the Stanislavsky. The Academy's Facebook page doesn't seem to list the graduates or honors for them but there are several entries from a Womack- dad? with photos and videos of her performing what looks like the lead in the school's performance of Paquita. Perhaps someone who understands Russian or has access to the school announcements from JW's graduating class could confirm her statements but a simple google search only shows statements in social media.
  21. Well stated Helene on all points. 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.
  22. 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).
  23. From the NY Times phone interview with Womack: From this quote, it seems that one of her main goals was to dance "prominent" roles. (Like her fellow corps members, I'm sure). If she wasn't given opportunities to perform, then that goal seems unlikely in this company. This is not an uncommon state among ballet dancers. To advance in their careers and meet individual goals, sometimes dancers need a "change of scenery." In those cases, it's usually wise to do this without burning bridges...
  24. I am curious about the sentiment that Joy Womack was treated badly in part because she was American or not Russian. That may well be the case but three years ago, the Bolshoi held auditions and issued invitations after the dancer sent the requested information. I don't know how many nationalities or Americans were invited. I seem to remember hearing at the time that Filin was trying to open up the company and become more international. Maybe the company wasn't ready, maybe the leadership wasn't ready but Filin did hold those "open" auditions.
  25. Maybe instead of asking for solo roles, the right question should have been how to be cast in the corps. Maybe the person was annoyed at her for asking to dance solo roles when she hasn't even been cast in the corps. Maybe the person made an unwise comment about paying for the opportunity. We really don't know what actually happened here. It's interesting to me that she "has so much respect" for the person who said the alleged comment that points to extortion. If she's not willing to give details, then why should we believe it without question? It's not that I don't feel for the girl but she does seem young and unaccustomed to experiencing the consequences of actions and statements. She needs the strong guidance of mature people to advise her right now. If she "just wants to be a ballerina," then be willing to work in the corps and earn the confidence of the company leadership. Time to mature without the pressure of being on stage as a soloist is a gift and the special nature of that gift seems to elude her and many others of her generation.
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