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Peter Martins Sexual Harassment Allegations


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Just now, abatt said:

This story seems to be morphing out of sexual abuse and towards physical abuse of a non-sexual nature.  

I think they'll have to address the recent anonymous letter though; since they announced an investigation.  The public won't forget about that.

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I believe Mr. Martins' career is over. The number of allegations of violent behavior are piling up, as if the floodgates have opened, and are not all in the distant past. Whether they are proven in an investigation or not, no parent is doing to want their child attending SAB with Martins at the helm. NYCB dancers will forever be on edge with him around, and ticket sales will be impacted. 

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So that's why Jeffrey Edwards left the company suddenly. There were many roles I used to enjoy seeing him do in the early nineties and all of a sudden he was gone. 

There's also a mention in the Kelly Cass report of Martins verbally humiliating Peter Boal in class on the same day and immediately afterwards crossing out their names from all performances for the following two weeks.

Yes, why was that allowed to continue way back then.

Edited by Quiggin
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29 minutes ago, Helene said:

That Jeffrey Edwards lodged a formal complaint in 1993 to management after Darci Kistler reported abusive behavior to the police, and neither management, the NYCB Board (if it was informed), nor the union did/was able to do anything, speaks volumes.

That almost all of a Nutcracker cast witness violent behavior against a 12-year-old, and, yet Martins continued, speaks more volumes.

That, in spite of all of this, the Vice Chairman said,

well, I'm not often speechless, but...

 

I feel speechless too.  It is beyond belief.  I wonder how many of us are trying to guess who the current dancer is who wishes to remain anonymous.

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Of course there are more cases.  There is a clear pattern, going back decades. Not surprised in the least. Only dismayed that people who knew were silent.  Good lesson to me about moral courage. 

And Katie M. is not wise to come out with ANY statements that are recorded. She's now going to find herself in court as a witness or in a depo chair or being flown up to NYC to be interviewed as part of the "investigation". .. perhaps that's her goal.  In her shoes I would only say something verbally if absolutely forced. 

And someone "did something."  These things are never about someone not "doing something." They are about rank, money, and power. AND about complicit bystanders. 

It's a bunch of people who shared an "open secret" . . . . 

Edited by balletforme
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1 hour ago, abatt said:

This story seems to be morphing out of sexual abuse and towards physical abuse of a non-sexual nature.  

It does.  Of course, that doesn't mean there's nothing to come, but you have to assume reporters are asking potential sources about sexual harassment as well, and this is what they're coming up with. 

Hard to see how Martins can remain now, nor should he. At the very least the company would be split.

(I wonder if he had just kept to non-physical abuse, like Robbins, if he would be able to survive this?)

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29 minutes ago, balletforme said:

And WTF with John Clifford. . . in Facebook pages expressing veiled support for Martins and then publically siding with the victims?  I would not want to work with or near him either. 

I don't see any public-facing FB posts by Clifford that I interpreted as "veiled support" for Martins:  he expresses sadness for the company, he says he left what he witnessed of Martins' violence out of his autobiography, and questions whether he should add it back into his book -- not sure if this another book or a revised autobiography -- tries to set the record straight about Balanchine vs. Martins in his treatment of women, the succession,  his choice for who should be the new directors (Whelan and Farrell), his background and why his opinion matters, and variously strong and snarky reactions to the NYT and WaPo articles he links to. 

He commented on December 10, 

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When he beat up Darci that was THE last straw for me. She came from my school in LA.

I think that sounds pretty definitive to me.

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I would like to know what the Dress Rehearsal "horsing around" consisted of...    if a child is endangering others by out of control behavior, a director may make sudden physical contact to make it stop...    We aren't told what it was that triggered the "grabbed by the back of the neck" response...   Obviously it was over the top  on Martin's part... but I'd still like to hear the event described by a witness rather than the one who triggered the response.  If he was misbehaving back then, why is his testimony taken as flawless truth now?  Surely there would be other children there who would remember this day.  What happened?  What was Martins putting a stop to?  Why so violently?

Clearly though, there is this same thread of "grabbing by the neck" through the stories...  that makes it clear it was a line that was crossed more than once...   What is that old line to women about "if a man hits you, once, it will happen again... get out of that relationship fast".

Edited by Amy Reusch
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For one thing, with the accusations of physical violence and verbal abuse, there's far more of an audit trail:  Jeffrey Edwards formal complaint to the union, which AGMA verified existed, and violence that was witnessed,   Since there have been no accusations that Martins had non-consensual sex with company members, establishing a pattern of hostile work environment conditions based on sexual harassment would take longer and involve a lot more people than a NYT article written in less than a week, and the instances of sexual harassment are far too often dismissed as subject to individual interpretation.  Also, since the school is part of the investigation of the original allegations, they and their parents might be less likely to speak to the press about sexual harassment in a way they wouldn't about physical violence.

But to that point, that men are willing to come forward is huge, just as Terry Crews coming forward was huge, given societal backlash against men who admit to vulnerability, except in rare cases/professions.

 

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2 hours ago, abatt said:

Crossing people's names off of cast lists was within Martins' rights as AD.  That part of the story involving the Boals is a a red herring.

Slashing someone's name off a list in red ink after physically attacking them is aggressive and demeaning. Surely there are more respectful and professional ways to go about recasting a role.

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Per Kelly Boal, as reported in WaPo,

Kelly Boal was not physically attacked before being removed from the cast list.  Peter Boal was verbally attacked. Kelly Boal was physically attacked as she was looking at the cast list and finding their names removed in red ink.

But I agree that, unless red ink was used in general or randomly, I would interpret that as an aggressive and demeaning action, regardless of whether the attack was physical or verbal.  A true leader would have exercised self-control, regardless of how angry or frustrated they were, in almost all conditions, particularly when their own family isn't under attack.

 

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I'm speechless. If this involves a dancer still within the company that IMO Martins is done and might explain why the leave of absence was so sudden as was the installation of the new team.

Not all of Morgan's video was wise but the fact that she says that these four people have calm, nurturing temperaments IMO says a lot. Clearly the board is working to fix this ASAP and that means a new team where not one person has all the control and four people all are known as calm , stabilizing influences.

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5 hours ago, Quiggin said:

 

Helene is probably right about the new team being one of conservators – that no changes will be made during their time of interim leadership, though I initially thought so.

I wonder who is leading the decision making in the background, in the roles Lincoln Kirstein, Eddie Biglow and even Anne Bass, 40 or so years ago, were playing.

 

I think this too. But if there is a change in leadership long term, that would be a different matter.

5 hours ago, abatt said:

Thank you for posting--I would have missed this.

I was a little surprised to read that, at a formal meeting with the dancers, the vice chairman of the Board of Trustees (Robert Lipp) "expressed hope that Mr. Martins could soon 'be back and continuing in his regular role.'" I can sympathize with his feeling that way on a personal level; I assume all this has caught him by surprise and I've just written at length about my own admiration for Martins. But I'm not altogether sure the Vice Chairman of the Board (as opposed to a fan on the internet) should be expressing any view at all publicly or to the dancers when the investigation is still ongoing -- other maybe than that he hopes everything will be resolved soon. Especially as some dancers at that meeting may be among those being interviewed etc. (What exactly is he saying to them? and well...a lot of other questions are raised by the statement--however inadvertently.)

Edited to add: Apologies to Marta and Helene...after reading the link Abatt posted I was so flummoxed by Lipp's remarks I didn't notice I had missed a page worth of people's posting.  (I was trying to be tactful and perhaps just ended up mealy-mouthed. I was kind of relieved when I saw your posts.)

Edited by Drew
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1 hour ago, yukionna4869 said:

I very much liked this part:

"I pose this question: Is Martins being thrown under the bus to avoid addressing the larger, more deep-seated problem? Shouldn't the board of directors of both organizations and all related organizations be a part of this investigation? Unearthing lurid details of past abuses for public consumption is, to me, far less important than exposing 35 years of cover-ups, mismanagement, greed and corruption—all of which created a toxic, dangerous work environment for generations of vulnerable dancers."

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2 hours ago, Amy Reusch said:

 

Clearly though, there is this same thread of "grabbing by the neck" through the stories...  that makes it clear it was a line that was crossed more than once...  

Since reading Kelly Boal's story, I keep picturing Fleming Flindt's The Lesson....

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And there, from Frankfurt, is the direct accusation of sexual abuse:

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Am I a victim of Martins abuse? Yes. Was it sexual? Yes. Was it consensual? No.

Her point, though, is much wider, the one @pherank quoted and similar to the one being asked about Weinstein:  is he the equivalent of Millken, who takes the fall so everyone can pretend insider trading has been cleared up?  I by no means believe that all of them shouldn't have fallen/fall, but how many others get to lie low until the whole thing blows over, especially the rich men who write checks?

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I think the most damaging part of the NYTimes story is the story of the Nutcracker rehearsal. Other than the fact that being so rough with little kids is horrible*, part of it has to do with branding. The NYCB aggressively markets their Nutcracker as the whole family experience, and uses as a selling point all those adorable SAB kids who year after year are just too cute for words. They CANNOT afford to lose that image as Nutcracker is their big cash cow. So from that corporate perspective, Martins has to go.

*I mean I think he should go because physical abuse, especially repeated patterns of abuse, should be grounds for dismissal. But from a marketing perspective it's a nightmare too.

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On 12/10/2017 at 6:46 PM, vipa said:

 Heather Watts is also known as a great coach. She is not welcomed at NYCB as a coach or teacher in the school. Let's get her in there. Open the doors. IMO there is no road back for Martins. Let's acknowledge his fantastic contribution and open the doors.

Regardless of the kind of coach Watts is now, I sort of had the impression that she was part of the problem, not the solution - a  problematic court favorite and the most notorious example under the Martins regime of a dancer who benefited beyond her gifts from her intimate relationship with the boss.  Croce: "Balanchine had his pets, but none of them were ever as egregious as Heather Watts." I also remember Croce remarking that Watts was making a hash of her Balanchine roles, "simplifying what she couldn't put over."  Not so?

I suppose there would be an irony in there somewhere if Damian Woetzel got the nod - the old boss'  famous ex returning to the company on the arm of her husband the new boss.

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To me the Nutcracker story is the least credible.  There were probably at least forty or fifty people who witnessed this incident,  and unless others come forward to corroborate the story,  I'll take the "death grip" with a grain of salt.  I don't believe that City Ballet parents are so stage struck they would overlook physical abuse from a ballet master.  When the Bolshoi Ballet began sending teachers to the US,  they were strenuously warned about touching American children because they could find themselves in a world of trouble if their actions were misconstrued as sexual or abusive.

I also don't know what to make of Wilhelmina  Frankfurt's article.  She seems to be the only woman to go on the record about alleged non-consensual sexual assault by Martins,  but instead of describing what took place,  she goes off on a tangent about supposed greed and corruption in the administration of the school and the company.  Her rhetorical question - "Is Martins being thrown under the bus?" struck me as odd coming from his supposed victim.  If he assaulted her,  one would think she'd be quite pleased to see him suffer the consequences of his behavior.

I see nothing wrong with Kathryn Morgan's statement.  She was answering questions from her many subscribers,  and with Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer in the national conversation for actions that can only be described as rape,  I think the rape question was properly addressed.

Perhaps Martins should step down "for the good of the company".   His daughter's struggles give him the perfect out.  She could probably benefit from some parental attention.  I really feel sorry for Darci Kistler.  If even Kathryn Morgan knew about Martins' affairs,  surely she does too,  and she has to see these women every day.  

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10 hours ago, On Pointe said:

"Is Martins being thrown under the bus?" struck me as odd coming from his supposed victim.  If he assaulted her,  one would think she'd be quite pleased to see him suffer the consequences of his behavior.

What follows is her point, which is that the people who enabled him -- the Board members and administration -- should be investigated:

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I pose this question: Is Martins being thrown under the bus to avoid addressing the larger, more deep-seated problem? Shouldn't the board of directors of both organizations and all related organizations be a part of this investigation? Unearthing lurid details of past abuses for public consumption is, to me, far less important than exposing 35 years of cover-ups, mismanagement, greed and corruption—all of which created a toxic, dangerous work environment for generations of vulnerable dancers.

 

10 hours ago, On Pointe said:

To me the Nutcracker story is the least credible.  There were probably at least forty or fifty people who witnessed this incident,  and unless others come forward to corroborate the story,  I'll take the "death grip" with a grain of salt.

Then it should be easy for at least a few of those forty or fifty people to come forward and say it didn't happen as claimed, and that's assuming Pogrebin didn't get corroboration.

 

10 hours ago, dirac said:

Regardless of the kind of coach Watts is now, I sort of had the impression that she was part of the problem, not the solution - a  problematic court favorite and the most notorious example under the Martins regime of a dancer who benefited beyond her gifts from her intimate relationship with the boss. 

I think she has stiff competition from Kistler, based on the second half of Kistler's career, which didn't warrant 30 years (in total).

10 hours ago, dirac said:

Croce: "Balanchine had his pets, but none of them were ever as egregious as Heather Watts." I also remember Croce remarking that Watts was making a hash of her Balanchine roles, "simplifying what she couldn't put over."  Not so?

The Watts that Martins "inherited" wasn't a Martins creation: she was a Balanchine creation, and Watts has said many times that Balanchine told her to ignore everyone else and to listen to him instead.  It wasn't as if Watts was a corps member or in Soloist purgatory and Martins suddenly placed her front and center.  She was promoted to Principal by Balanchine, and her career was about a 50/50 split between Balanchine and Martins.

I remember one Spring season -- I think maybe 1986 -- when, due to injury and illness and with eight performances a week, two on Saturday and two on Sunday, the substitution lists were almost as long as the programs, and where Watts danced nearly every performance, subbing in a wide range of ballets, sometimes two or three ballets a night in an eight-week season.  Kirstein and Gottlieb talked about how McBride saved the company after Farrell left, and Mazo documents the cascading injuries in one of those seasons, but Watts held up the fort in the mid-'80's, and she danced a lot of ballets really well, when it was a amazing that she was still standing by the end.

Watts has also described as being a mess after Balanchine's death, and the more Martins choreographed for her and codified her mannerisms during this period, the more her dancing in Balanchine diminished.

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