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Peter Martins Sexual Harassment Allegations

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42 minutes ago, Helene said:

I don't think that, as a choreographer-while-AD, Martins has ever been considered on the same level as Levine, Ben Miller, the son of two Boston Symphony Orchestra musicians who writes about Levine, brings up important points about the way organizations ignore rumors, even when there are smoking guns:

https://van-us.atavist.com/silence-breaking

Thank you for that link, Helene! Read the whole thing, as they say, but the concluding paragraph brings it home:

"Gossip is not enough, and should not be enough, to end a career. But gossip this persistent—and documented reports to Met management in 1979 and 2016—should have triggered investigations far more serious than those that occurred. There are still people decrying Levine’s suspension from the Met. Still, after four victims and counting have come forward to publicly share their stories. After a police report. Still. One Twitter user wrote, “right on the heels of that magnificent Verdi Requiem, could you not hold off on this cruel public statement until after a fair hearing?” No one wants to think that an artist who has moved them deeply could have also used his enormous power to hurt people so badly. The BSO’s current Music Director, Andris Nelsons, has said publicly that sexual harassment doesn’t occur in classical music because “art makes people better humans.” This too is part of a narrative of genius in which beautiful sounds could not possibly have been made by ugly people. Surely it is past time to kill that narrative dead."

I want to live on whatever planet Andris Nelsons lives on.  Bad people have both made art and consumed it since the first bit of pigment was smeared on a cave wall.

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7 minutes ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

I want to live on whatever planet Andris Nelsons lives on.  Bad people have both made art and consumed it since the first bit of pigment was smeared on a cave wall.

That was one of the most cringe-worthy comments I've read on the matter.

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5 hours ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

The Union. I don't know how up to the task AGMA might have been in the early 90s, but they are alert to the issue now: AGMA ESTABLISHES A SYSTEM FOR MEMBERS TO REPORT CONDUCT THAT CREATES A HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT.  This is one reason why unions are important — or at least should be. As institutions, they likely have some catching up to do as well.

On a different note: I still remember Kelly Cass; she was a genuinely lovely and talented dancer. 

PS: One important aspect of the AD's job is the management of the company's relationship with the union. The Board will likely have that in mind when the consider their next course of action.

This thread is so large now I apologize if this is old news but the AGMA has responded re: the Martins allegations with a call for people to contact them if they experienced any harassment.

 

https://www.musicalartists.org/harassment-allegations-peter-martins-ballet-master-chief-new-york-city-ballet/

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7 hours ago, abatt said:

I found the accusation in the NYTimes laughable.  I'm referring to the corps member who asked Martins what she had to do to get promoted to soloist, and he reportedly replied that she had to make him notice her. She  twisted those words in her mind and took that as a proposition for sex.    Having been an audience member of NYCB for about 20 years, I know exactly what those words convey in the context of NYCB dancers: awesome technician and/or charismatic stage presence.     Without more - a LOT more - this accuser's allegation is simply not  a reasonable interpretation of his alleged words.  I'm no great fan of Peter Martins, but this one is a real whopper. 

Yes, I agree, abatt. When I read that (admittedly in the wee hours of the morn and so, not yet fully awake), I was confused at this being an example of abuse.,

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4 hours ago, balletforme said:

This all reminds me of the defense of Jerry Sadusky.   Everyone jumping in to the defend a beloved organization. 

YES Vagansmom!!  That's right, consistent discussions are  usually not purely fabricated. 

Yes, sexual harassment is hard to prove and yes a corps member told to "stand out" could be interpreted multiple ways.  So dispose of that report.

But now we have 3 verifiable reports of assault:  a) Kelly Cass (and another dancer who verified seeing Martin over Cass) b) Gelsely Kirkland (Understandably not super reliable c) Darcie Kistler-- who did "report it"--to no avail; and d) an anonymous letter writer.  If we want to stick to facts, there you go. 

And, well, it seems pretty reasonable that someone would want to remain anonymous?   

And yes,  there are resources. There are places to go.   But where is the empathy?  Think about your 22 year old self and think about what you might have done.  

No someone's career should not be dismantled based on hearsay and innuendo but that's not the deal here.

If this were an occasional mistake wouldn't people want to defend Martins? Radio silence.  There is not one dancer male or female who is stepping forward to defend him. 

 

 

And the WaPo's statement about possible physical abuse of Heather Watts. 

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I haven't caught up on this topic and obviously there may be more to the story than has yet been reported. But this:

"Kelly Boal, a former City Ballet dancer, said in an interview that in 1989, Mr. Martins had “grabbed my shoulder and pulled me out into the hallway...."

is not sexual harassment

this: "Several dancers interviewed also said they saw Heather Watts, a former City Ballet dancer, walking around with bruises..."

is not sexual harassment, is hearsay, and I'm not sure how many dancers walk around without bruises, and

this: "Two dancers said he had a bad temper and could be physically rough on occasion, pulling dancers around by the neck during rehearsals"

is also not sexual harassment, and I'm not quite sure how to parse this. Being pulled around by the neck seems quite often to be part of the choreography.

This is the lede, as far as I'm concerned and the only real item of interest: "Martins is known for sleeping with dancers, some of whom received better roles because of their personal relationships with him."

So. However. 1) This is exactly how it worked under Balanchine, and let's not have any revisionist history about that, and

2) This needs to be substantiated. He cannot just be "known" for this.

unfortunately, a lot of college professors are known for sleeping with their students. But also unfortunately IMO, according to some university's codes of ethics, this is allowed.

The only question of relevance it seems to me is, did Martins coerce any one into sleeping with him? Or promise a role in exchange for sleeping with him? Or either implicitly or explicitly threaten to damage anyone's future career in exchange for sex?

Having affairs with one's coworkers, even if they are subordinates, is not necessarily sexual harassment. IMHO, I think it's unethical and immoral. but I don't like this article so far--I'm not really seeing at this point that he's done anything criminal.

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I think I noticed Ratmansky's name put forward somewhere  as a replacement and I just wanted to formally and officially register my amusement at that idea

:D

Heh.

I can't find the quote but the dancer/student who said that Martins said she needed to be noticed to get a promotion, and who interpreted that as "you have to sleep with me"-- I wouldn't say that's twisting his words, but it is absolutely interpreting them, rather than a straightforward understanding of his meaning. That in itself is not evidence of sexual harassment. There would need to be a great deal more corroboration than this dancer's statement, IMO.

If I sound too harsh--in my university and I believe every work place I've been in, there's been demonstrated, highly publicized sexual harassment claims that were substantiated and the men involved were indicted. It's not that I don't think this happens. It happens all the time. I just don't see evidence at this point that it has happened with Martins at NYCB.

 

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There are two sets of allegations:  sexual harassment and physical violence.  I don't see any confusion between the two.

We can state whatever we want about the burden of proof, about whether or not it was acceptable for Martins to have sex with his employees -- as of 2010, he wasn't allowed to be married to one, by NYCB rules -- whether that constitutes the basis for civil or criminal action, etc. etc., but there are laws, precedents, courts, mediation, arbitration, etc. and that is what will prevail, not what we claim is of interest or the question at hand.

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Just now, Helene said:

There are two sets of allegations:  sexual harassment and physical violence.  I don't see any confusion between the two.

We can state whatever we want about the burden of proof, about whether or not it was acceptable for Martins to have sex with his employees -- as of 2010, he wasn't allowed to be married to one, by NYCB rules -- whether that constitutes the basis for civil or criminal action, etc. etc., but there are laws, precedents, courts, mediation, arbitration, etc. and that is what will prevail, not what we claim is of interest or the question at hand.

I'm stating what I believe is relevant to the legal issue that we are discussing on this thread. I don't know what's of personal interest to you. This is what is of interest to me. I thought that was obvious when I made my post.

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[Admin beanie on]

I will not say it again:  if behavior hasn't been discussed in an official news source, it is not acceptable to discuss or conjecture about.  

Going forward, I will not edit or massage posts to make them acceptable: I will delete them and go straight to moderation.

[Admin beanie off]

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And further more, obviously sexual harassment and physical harassment are not the same thing, and they are being conflated by the times article that you've been discussing here. If not directly conflated, then the NYT is inviting readers to conflate the two issues in their minds. It's a devious and unethical strategy. Peter Martins may have dragged Heather Watts up the stairs, therefore he may have forced a student to have sex with him in exchange for a role. I'm pointing out that fallacy. I thought that was obvious, as well.

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40 minutes ago, jkr3855 said:

And further more, obviously sexual harassment and physical harassment are not the same thing, and they are being conflated by the times article that you've been discussing here. If not directly conflated, then the NYT is inviting readers to conflate the two issues in their minds. It's a devious and unethical strategy. Peter Martins may have dragged Heather Watts up the stairs, therefore he may have forced a student to have sex with him in exchange for a role. I'm pointing out that fallacy. I thought that was obvious, as well.

You know...it actually wasn't obvious to me what you were trying to point out and I had found your earlier post puzzling for that reason. Perhaps because I also hadn't thought the article conflated sexual and physical coercion...So thank you for the clarification of your thoughts--it's helpful.

Putting Martins aside and whatever he may or may not have done--we still don't know really--I'm thinking if my boss grabbed and choked me, he should kind of...um...er...face some consequences.

(Ballet mores? I hope not. In my own decades-long-ago experience with ballet teachers who trained professionals and could be very strict and sometimes cruel--one guest teacher even waved a stick around while screaming at us--they didn't do what Kelly Boal described.)

Edited by Drew

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10 minutes ago, jkr3855 said:

And further more, obviously sexual harassment and physical harassment are not the same thing, and they are being conflated by the times article that you've been discussing here. If not directly conflated, then the NYT is inviting readers to conflate the two issues in their minds. It's a devious and unethical strategy. Peter Martins may have dragged Heather Watts up the stairs, therefore he may have forced a student to have sex with him in exchange for a role. I'm pointing out that fallacy. I thought that was obvious, as well.

I'm not sure that that's what the NYT is doing.  The NYT is reporting that there is an investigation into Mr. Martins' conduct due to the anonymous letter, and the official statement emphasizes that the (official) priority of the SAB is the "safety and well-being" of the students.  So I think it's pretty fair to say that anything the investigation turns up that pertains to "safety and well-being" is going to be fair game.

I think it's also important to keep in mind that due process like free speech has a very specific legal definition.  In most cases, employers can and will fire employees for any reason both significant and trivial, and I'm sure Mr. Martins' contract includes a long list of reasons for which it can be terminated that do not require anything approaching a legal due process.

 

32 minutes ago, jkr3855 said:

this: "Several dancers interviewed also said they saw Heather Watts, a former City Ballet dancer, walking around with bruises..."

is not sexual harassment, is hearsay,

Uh, actually that's not hearsay.  It's an eyewitness statement (The dancers personally saw Ms. Watts walking around with bruises).  If Heather Watts had told someone that Mr. Martins hit her, and that person then said, "Heather Watts told me Peter hit her," THAT would be hearsay and (generally) inadmissible in court.

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11 hours ago, Fleurfairy said:

By his own admission, Clifford fancied himself Balanchine's successor before Martins became the frontrunner. 

The schadenfreude among Martins' defeated rivals must be off the charts at this point.

Also, I wonder if somewhere Mikhail Baryshnikov is thinking, "Maybe it's a good thing that whole ABT thing didn't work out in the end...."

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55 minutes ago, jkr3855 said:

Uh, the NYT states that Martins "is taking a leave of absence in the wake of a sexual harassment accusation...City Ballet and its School of American Ballet had started an investigation into Mr. Martins, 71, after receiving the accusation of past harassment, which was made in an anonymous letter."

The article is clearly concerned with an investigation into sexual harassment accusations. I'm quoting directly from the article.

The article states that NYCB and SAB have started an investigation "in the wake of a sexual harassment accusation."  It does not state that the investigation is ONLY concerned with sexual harassment.  With the way that the official statement was worded around "safety and well-being", I think it is very clear that Kelly Drye is taking in any and all behavior that may be considered abusive such as physical assault.

58 minutes ago, jkr3855 said:

As for the "hearsay" issue, hearsay is "information received from other people that one cannot adequately substantiate." One cannot substantiate that Heather Watts was walking around with bruises. Is there documentation of this? Did these unnamed dancers write down their impressions at the time they saw her? Did they take photographs?  What day of what year was she walking around with bruises? You can't just quote an anonymous person describing a situation 3 decades ago and say, that's an eyewitness account. It doesn't qualify as such without something to back it up. A jury would want to know these things. If these anonymous dancers are reporting their impressions from the 1980s, this is unsubstantiated and could fall under the definition of hearsay. Did anyone keep a journal or records of what they saw?

Hmmm... well, now I believe that you are conflating the legal and lay definitions of "hearsay."  But let's go with the lay definition of hearsay you start with: "information received from other people that one cannot adequately substantiate."  Actually, I would say that the fact that Heather Watts was walking around with bruises has been substantiated.  From the description in the article, multiple dancers personally saw her walking around with bruises so there is more than one report of it, and I would say that was substantiated.  

HOWEVER, the conclusion, Heather Watts was walking around with bruises, therefore Peter Martins must have been beating her... eh... as you say, there are multiple reasons Heather Watts may have been walking around with bruises. 

BUT, the LEGAL definition of hearsay is "an out-of-court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted," and this in no way fits that definition.  As I said before, the dancers personally saw Heather Watts walking around with bruises and would be able to testify that that is what they saw.  This is different than say, to use a famous example, when the prosecution tried to use Nicole Brown Simpson's diary entries as evidence that O.J. Simpson was beating her.  Because, again, out-of-court statement (the diary entires) offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted (Mr. Simpson was beating her), so the diaries were inadmissible.

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2 hours ago, dirac said:

Also, I wonder if somewhere Mikhail Baryshnikov is thinking, "Maybe it's a good thing that whole ABT thing didn't work out in the end...."

But Baryshnikov had a very public reputation as a lothario, which was even immortalized in barely fictionalized versions on film. I recall a program about Karen Kain, one of many produced by the CBC, in which she described a point in her career when she felt really stuck in a rut. So she contacted Baryshnikov about the prospects of leaving the National Ballet of Canada and joining ABT. The way she related it, his reply was, "We'll talk about it over breakfast," at which point Kain decided she didn't want to work for Baryshnikov after all.

Edited by volcanohunter

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2 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

But Baryshnikov had a very public reputation as a lothario, which was even immortalized in barely fictionalized versions on film. I recall a program about Karen Kain, one of many produced by the CBC, in which she described a point in her career when she felt really stuck in a rut. So she contacted Baryshnikov about the prospects of leaving the National Ballet of Canada and joining ABT. The way she related it, his reply was, "We'll talk about it over breakfast," at which point Kain decided she didn't want to work for Baryshnikov after all.

Exactly. Which reputation might well be working against him now if he were still running a company, much as Martins' playboy rep is hurting him -- even more so because of Baryshnikov's larger celebrity. Baryshnikov's ballet movies all wink at his womanizing reputation, even exploit it, as if to say "See? Not all male dancers are gay. Here's your proof!"  (The movies of course are careful to avoid losing audience sympathy for their star - the aging lothario in "Dancers" doesn't sleep with the corps girl.) 

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I confess I haven't been following this story very closely,  but surely there must accusers more recent than Kelly Cass Boal to trigger a huge investigation and a leave of absence for Martins?   It is definitely unfair to state that dancers received better roles because they had sex with PM.  Maybe they were better dancers to begin with.  And Martins was a very handsome man - it's not like we're talking Harvey Weinstein here.  Lots of people wanted to have sex with him!  At any rate,  while I don't doubt it was cathartic for Kelly Cass Boal to speak her truth,  it does make it unlikely that Peter Boal will become the new AD at NYCB,  even though he would otherwise be a likely candidate.

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Whether every women and girl in NYCB and SAB wanted to sleep with Peter Martins is not the relevant issue.   All jobs have trade-offs, and having sex with co-workers is a different animal than having sex with employees.

The links from the NYT and Washington Post are upthread, in case you want to take a closer look about what the accusations are and what the investigations are about.

Kelly Cass Boal was approached by the Washington Post after the investigation began.   I don't know if she was among the former dancers and students that the ED of SAB, who is managing at least the school's investigation, has asked for information from.

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13 hours ago, abatt said:

However, it appears that in the current culture, some  who are denied roles or promotions  are given a free pass to use the media to cry foul.   Sometimes not being promoted or not getting a role is simply because you're just not that good and/or your peers are better, rather than because of sexual harassment,  age discrimination, racial discrimination  or some other purported discriminatory or inappropriate conduct.  

Since neither of us were there, neither of us can have an informed opinion about the veracity of these claims. 

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12 hours ago, On Pointe said:

I confess I haven't been following this story very closely,  but surely there must accusers more recent than Kelly Cass Boal to trigger a huge investigation and a leave of absence for Martins?   It is definitely unfair to state that dancers received better roles because they had sex with PM.  Maybe they were better dancers to begin with.  And Martins was a very handsome man - it's not like we're talking Harvey Weinstein here.  Lots of people wanted to have sex with him!  At any rate,  while I don't doubt it was cathartic for Kelly Cass Boal to speak her truth,  it does make it unlikely that Peter Boal will become the new AD at NYCB,  even though he would otherwise be a likely candidate.

This post has two of the most incisive points in this thread - (1) Martins was a handsome man, lots of people wanted to sleep with him, and (2) we won't be seeing Peter Boal as AD. 

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5 hours ago, Olga said:

This post has two of the most incisive points in this thread - (1) Martins was a handsome man, lots of people wanted to sleep with him, and (2) we won't be seeing Peter Boal as AD. 

Point 1 may be incisive, but I don't understand how it's pertinent to the topic of sexual harassment, sexual assault or physical assault allegations against Martins.

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5 hours ago, Olga said:

This post has two of the most incisive points in this thread - (1) Martins was a handsome man, lots of people wanted to sleep with him, and (2) we won't be seeing Peter Boal as AD. 

Lots of people might have wanted to sleep with him, but that doesn't the people he coerced or threatened in a quid pro quo relationship wanted to sleep with him. (If that is indeed what happened -- right now the details of the case and allegations are not very clear.) I also don't see what his physical appearance has to do with anything. Ted Bundy was a good-looking guy. 

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9 minutes ago, canbelto said:

Lots of people might have wanted to sleep with him, but that doesn't the people he coerced or threatened in a quid pro quo relationship wanted to sleep with him. (If that is indeed what happened -- right now the details of the case and allegations are not very clear.) I also don't see what his physical appearance has to do with anything. Ted Bundy was a good-looking guy. 

And there are plenty of conventionally unattractive people who find at times that others want to sleep with them, for any of a variety of reasons. It's really neither here nor there, as far as I can tell, whether a particular alleged perpetrator is attractive or unattractive. That tells us nothing about the likelihood, plausibility, or verifiability of a specific alleged incident.

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