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Peter Martins Sexual Harassment Allegations


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I'm not a Watts enthusiast, but I do want to give credit where credit is due. As Helene pointed out upthread, there was a period of time when Watts was the company workhorse. Did I prefer her to Merrill Ashley in Ballo della Regina or Patricia McBride in Voices of Spring? No, but I enjoyed the performances I saw her give in both roles (and I saw a lot of her in the workhorse years). And, yes, there were roles that I really liked her in: the Midsummer Divertissement, Dewdrop, Rubies, Agon. 

One reason she might be a valuable as a coach: she was at one point very open about the years she spent in an early-career wilderness because she didn't work hard enough or at least didn't work on the right things in the right way. What to work on and how — from the vantage point of someone who had to figure it out themselves — is useful knowledge to pass on.

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1 hour ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

Keep in mind that Morgan's comments are being made in the context of a flood tide of harassment charges against any number of prominent arts, media, and political figures, not just Martins. Many of those charges include rape, attempted rape, and extremely coercive behavior. She may have been trying to draw a distinction between what men like Weinstein and Lauer have been accused of an the kind of behavior Martins was rumored to have engaged in. 

And yes, Watts had a beautiful jump.

At this point I have so many issues with Kathryn Morgan’s video it goes beyond the language.  My initial point was the need for media training; I keep reflecting on the Kobe Bryant rape case.  Not a single athlete (Laker or otherwise) made an unsolicited statement about the case, before, during or after the trial.  If you don’t have evidence to contribute to the investigation you stay out of it, it’s not about you.  In KM’s case, viewers are asking her questions and she has a right to respond, however she can do so using better, less triggering language ex “I did not witness coercive or abusive relationships between Peter Martins and company members.”

The further issue is bringing up relationships she did hear about and then discussing them in further detail in the comments.  That is introducing gossip and rumor, which as someone mentioned earlier is forbidden on balletalert.  As a role model, and educator shouldn’t KM be setting a better example?  If an SAB student went around saying “I heard about Peter Martins having an affair with a principal dancer.”  That student would immediately be reprimanded for spreading slanderous, unsubstantiated rumor. 

Kathryn Morgan is profiting by commenting on the investigation (youtube is a business, the video is monetized).  She could make her statement answering the viewers questions, and then take time open a discussion about consent, victim’s rights and how to protect oneself in an unprofessional or unsafe environment.  All of this could be done without gossiping about her former colleagues. 

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I absolutely agree that although Morgan was within her rights to go on the record regarding her own experience at NYCB, should have steered clear of rehashing rumors and gossip. (I wouldn't advise her to say much about consent, victim's rights, or protecting oneself in an unsafe environment unless she's got genuine expertise in that area or has done her homework.) I simply wanted to point out that the word "rape" didn't come out of nowhere.

 

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Kathleen, you are right about avoiding discussing consent etc if you are not qualified.  I assumed that with her appointment as a teacher at the Royal Academy of Dance in Houston Kathryn Morgan would have been given some type of training for advising students in difficult situations.  I think that's a general theme in this thread, who do you turn to if you are in a bad situation? and has that person been given the tools to advise you?  It looks like in Kelly Boal's day there was no one to turn to, and now if there is someone he/she doesn't have the tools to handle the situation. 

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6 minutes ago, FITTB85 said:

I assumed that with her appointment as a teacher at the Royal Academy of Dance in Houston Kathryn Morgan would have been given some type of training for advising students in difficult situations. 

I don't know what the norm is these days, but I certainly hope that institutions of every kind and size figure out how to communicate what's OK, what's not OK, and what to do when there's a problem — and that they also demonstrate that the intolerable will not in fact be tolerated.

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15 hours ago, On Pointe said:

Arlene Croce's treatment of Heather Watts struck me as downright abusive.  It was way over the top - I used to wonder how Watts managed to go out on stage sometimes.

In the interview Croce gave to Dance Ink after the publication of "Discussing the Undiscussable," Croce had the following to say about criticism and the dancer:

SL: Do you think criticism should have a practical effect on the dance world?

AC: No. Criticism is only for the audience's personal use.

SL: Would you like to be more influential on dancers or companies?

AC: No! Absolutely not. That's not ever the point. They [dancers] should do what they do: go to class, listen to the teacher, work hard, look in the mirror, get onstage, get it over with, come back, do it again. The critic doesn't exist to write for the dancer, but for the public. This is a point Edwin [Denby] made better than I can: "Criticism is a conversation that the audience has with itself, and if the performer wants to eavesdrop on the conversation, he does so at his own risk."

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On 12/13/2017 at 2:58 PM, FITTB85 said:

The further issue is bringing up relationships she did hear about and then discussing them in further detail in the comments.  That is introducing gossip and rumor, which as someone mentioned earlier is forbidden on balletalert

Comments on YouTube are not allowed to be discussed here, just like comments on other discussion boards, no matter who makes them, aside from a description of the video by a ballet professional who posts a video/v-log.

The rule on Ballet Alert! is about source, not content, ie, only official news can be discussed, which includes public-facing social media, videos/v-logs, blogs, etc., ie, anyone can see the posts, with the only barrier being having to log into a site that anyone can join.  If the NYT or an industry professional says that such-and-such is an "open secret," then it can be characterized (with citation) as an open secret.  If a ballet professional's content includes rumor, innuendo, supposition, or gossip, that's on them,  We can't stop ballet professionals from posting things we think are ill-advised, including one we admire.

What can't be discussed is unofficial news, which includes non-professionals', ie, your, suppositions, rumors, and gossip, knowledge of "open secrets,"  comments from anyone but ballet professionals posting under their own names on mainstream media articles or other professionals' public-facing social media, or comments from other message boards, including YouTube, or posts on ballet professionals' public media that is not public-facing, ie, you need to be given permission to see it.

 

 

On 12/13/2017 at 4:15 PM, miliosr said:

AC: No! Absolutely not. That's not ever the point. They [dancers] should do what they do: go to class, listen to the teacher, work hard, look in the mirror, get onstage, get it over with, come back, do it again. The critic doesn't exist to write for the dancer, but for the public. This is a point Edwin [Denby] made better than I can: "Criticism is a conversation that the audience has with itself, and if the performer wants to eavesdrop on the conversation, he does so at his own risk."

 

And on this, Heather Watts and Arlene Croce are in agreement.  Somewhere in a two-part podcast, in which host Christian Cudnick repeatedly tries to get Watts to express his outrage about what Croce wrote about her, she refuses to take the bait:

(Scroll to see the two parts.)

https://www.ottoradio.com/podcast/ballet-initiative-podcast

Edited by Helene
Reworded a juvenile attempt at sounding clever.
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3 hours ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

I'm not a Watts enthusiast, but I do want to give credit where credit is due. As Helene pointed out upthread, there was a period of time when Watts was the company workhorse. Did I prefer her to Merrill Ashley in Ballo della Regina or Patricia McBride in Voices of Spring? No, but I enjoyed the performances I saw her give in both roles (and I saw a lot of her in the workhorse years). And, yes, there were roles that I really liked her in: the Midsummer Divertissement, Dewdrop, Rubies, Agon. 

One reason she might be a valuable as a coach: she was at one point very open about the years she spent in an early-career wilderness because she didn't work hard enough or at least didn't work on the right things in the right way. What to work on and how — from the vantage point of someone who had to figure it out themselves — is useful knowledge to pass on.

Also, many dancers have spoken about Watts coaching them at Vale, including Tiler Peck & Unity Phelan. They all say she is a wonderful coach who is very positive and generous. Phelan mentioned that even in NYC she calls Watts up for help. I liked Watts dancing in many things, although she was never one of my favorites. In her later years she was overly mannered, but she has openly stated that after Balanchine's death she didn't dance well.

In any event the greatest dancers don't necessarily make the best coaches.

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9 hours ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

Watts and Helgi Tomasson in the pas de deux from Bournonville's Kermess in Bruges. There was more to her career — and her dancing — than a lot of people remember. 

This is just lovely -- thanks so much for posting it here.  Bournonville is so very difficult, and when it's danced correctly, it looks like a decorous walk in the park.

 

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8 hours ago, Helene said:

A friend from another part of the internet drew my attention to this long article (8 pages) in the LA Times from December 1993 about the impacts of Martins' arrest in 1992, ie, his resurrection:

http://articles.latimes.com/1992-12-06/magazine/tm-3085_1_city-ballet

"The City Ballet's board has been nothing if not supportive, and for now, Martins' job seems secure. "We have the highest regard for Peter and the deepest admiration for the work he has done, as we do for Darci," says Theodore C. Rogers, the board's chairman. "We believe they are doing everything that a prudent person would do to address the situation in which they find themselves."

8 hours ago, Helene said:

They find themselves?  Kistler was equally responsible for being attacked by her husband?  Really?

This is exactly the attitude that enables abuse to be mainstreamed, and it comes, once again, from a Board apologist.  It was as appalling then as it is appalling nearly a quarter century later.

Gaslighting.

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7 hours ago, FITTB85 said:

The further issue is bringing up relationships she did hear about and then discussing them in further detail in the comments.  That is introducing gossip and rumor, which as someone mentioned earlier is forbidden on balletalert.  As a role model, and educator shouldn’t KM be setting a better example?  If an SAB student went around saying “I heard about Peter Martins having an affair with a principal dancer.”  That student would immediately be reprimanded for spreading slanderous, unsubstantiated rumor. 

 

Hearsay is inadmissible in court for a reason.

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5 hours ago, miliosr said:

This is a point Edwin [Denby] made better than I can: "Criticism is a conversation that the audience has with itself, and if the performer wants to eavesdrop on the conversation, he does so at his own risk."

Denby!

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On 12/12/2017 at 8:19 AM, FITTB85 said:

This is my takeaway from all the NYCB issues over the last month… Ballet dancers need media training.  First Robbie Fairchild doesn’t know how Instagram works and now Kathryn Morgan is throwing around dangerous, incriminating language.

I am SHOCKED Kathryn said the word rape.  Granted she said “I do not believe PM raped anyone.”  But honestly, no one has said that word yet, until her video all statements have been about “sexual abuse”.  These dancers need some actual PR training to know that you keep silent or you give a form statement, ex: “I have only ever had professional and supportive interactions with PM.  I applaud the women who have the strength to publicly discuss their experiences, I hope this comes to a quick and justifiable conclusion, congratulations and good luck to interim team.”  

As general matter, I agree that dancers could probably benefit from media and social media training, but I think the time is past now.  If I were NYCB/SAB, I would be very wary of doing anything that could be perceived as silencing or suppressing anyone's story or telling them what to say for 2 reasons: 1) I don't want anything out there that could be considered evidence that NYCB/SAB was silencing/suppressing abuse and may have a history of it, and 2) God forbid there is someone out there who may have a legitimate case that they were abused and, even worse, can prove it.  It doesn't take a whole lot to get them emotional and angry and ready to file suit, and something that can be interpreted as "Please don't talk about it," can certainly get a, "Oh, yeah?  Wait till EVERYONE hears what I have to say!!!" response.

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At this point I have so many issues with Kathryn Morgan’s video it goes beyond the language.  My initial point was the need for media training; I keep reflecting on the Kobe Bryant rape case.  Not a single athlete (Laker or otherwise) made an unsolicited statement about the case, before, during or after the trial.  If you don’t have evidence to contribute to the investigation you stay out of it, it’s not about you. 

While I personally wouldn't have advised Kathryn Morgan to put out that video, I don't think the Lakers situation is really comparable.  The Lakers as a team and Bryant's teammates really didn't have anything to do with that case.  There wasn't a question that the Lakers might have been hiding something, or that teammates were involved/victims.  Certainly each of the Lakers has a team of agents, managers, etc. to protect them and an interest in preserving their personal brand from the ugliness.  Why get involved?  

In the Martins situation, it's likely that A LOT of dancers and alums may be involved in the case in one way or another and some may be VERY involved and have evidence to contribute to the investigation.  In some cases, it actually may be about them.  So, I think it's a completely different situation.  

My take is that it's gong to get ugly, and probably really ugly in the short-term, but it's better to get the ugliness out there now, weather the storm, and try to keep NYCB/SAB as healthy as possible for the long-term.  My guess is that Martins will be out, and someone will be installed whose main charge will be to "clean-up" and stabilize the situation and put policies and practices in place, and then gracefully retire after 5 years or so.  Then a longer-term AD will come in.  (One of my Catholic friends calls it the "Pope Benedict" MO).

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Yes, the board appears to have been somewhat complicit throughout the years.  Yes Helene, I find it creepy too. 

Organizations will first and foremost protect themselves over and above individuals.  If it is in the organization's best interest to keep someone they will. If it is not they won''t.  Martins is done because he now compromises the organization.  He has attracted bad press and associates the organization with a lurid trend. He was clearly physically violent with many people including women with whom he was in relationships--Franks was right--"a basher."  NYCB wants to rid itself of this connection. In terms of SAB, I can't imagine parents signing back on to allow their children to stay at SAB with Martins figuratively at the head. 

In terms of Kathryn Morgan, honestly,  I just don't think that she was very thoughtful at all.  If she did feel the need to make a statement it might have been better to simply prepare something written and share it. My perspective is that she is simply not sharp and hadn't even thought through things like rape, sexual harassment, sexual assault. It does not reflect well on her, IMO. I don't think many people thought that Martins had raped anyone.  (Given the current apparent trend of physically dominating and assaulting people it now seem possible but it's really not been alleged by anyone.)

There is striking similarity in many of the accounts-grabbing people by the neck?  

Edited by balletforme
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1 hour ago, balletforme said:

I don't think many people thought that Martins had raped anyone.  (Given the current apparent trend of physically dominating and assaulting people it now seem possible but it's really not been alleged by anyone

Wilhemina Frankfurt wrote in Dance Magazine,

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

http://www.dancemagazine.com/wilhelmina-frankfurt-peter-martins-investigation-2516966253.html

So non-consensual sexual abuse is definitely on the table, and in print.  

In my reading and watching experience, Morgan is not a crisp writer.  She followed up the video with a podcast that I abandoned midway through -- the first half, at least, was purportedly to explain to young dancers how to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate behavior -- because it was no more clear than any articles in teen magazines when the address issues, not fashion.  (Perhaps this is suited to specific developmental ages, but I was temperamentally frustrated by it when I was that age.)  I would not expect nuanced and precise language from her or a deep dive, howeve unfortunate I find it.

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I think Morgan was foolish to comment at all. I was expecting her to keep her mouth shut, as is the norm. I was very surprised she addressed it but I guess she felt she had to speak about her own personal experience. However, she was in the company a relatively short time and was a rising star. So she might have been somewhat sheltered and coddled from the worst of it.

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6 minutes ago, Fleurfairy said:

I think Morgan was foolish to comment at all. I was expecting her to keep her mouth shut, as is the norm. I was very surprised she addressed it but I guess she felt she had to speak about her own personal experience. However, she was in the company a relatively short time and was a rising star. So she might have been somewhat sheltered and coddled from the worst of it.

I agree Fleurfairy, and Morgan talking about rumors she heard was very foolish IMO. All that does is spread those rumors and cause more speculation. Not very wise.

Interestingly the Met musicians issued a statement about James Levine. https://slippedisc.com/2017/12/met-musicians-issues-statement-on-james-levine/

I can't imagine the NYCB dancers would do anything like that.

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I think the people who followed her have asked, and that a statement that she was only treated with kindness and respect, but that didn't discount others' experiences with Martins would have been entirely appropriate.  Beyond that, I don't think she added more to the discussion.

One thing that is important is the network of women and girls and parents who warn each other, if in whispers, about predators and abusers, and who squire children away from them or make sure their friends or children are never alone with them.  Of course, that doesn't directly address abusive behavior in public, although it can include passing along coping mechanisms, like, "If he rants, do nothing but nod, or he will rant more and louder."

 

7 minutes ago, vipa said:

Interestingly the Met musicians issued a statement about James Levine. https://slippedisc.com/2017/12/met-musicians-issues-statement-on-james-levine/

I can't imagine the NYCB dancers would do anything like that.

Certainly not while the vice chair of the board is hoping that Martins will be back and that he might be their boss again.  In the Levine case, since none of the orchestra members were the victims, there was a distance, and, he was no longer their boss, since he was no longer Music Director.  And I've never heard anyone say that Levine was abusive as a conductor, while Martins is accused of verbal and physical abuse in his role as AD.

AGMA could, though, on behalf of the dancers, ask for transparency and offer to work with management to institute policies and oversight, etc. etc.

 

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16 hours ago, vipa said:

Also, many dancers have spoken about Watts coaching them at Vale, including Tiler Peck & Unity Phelan. They all say she is a wonderful coach who is very positive and generous. Phelan mentioned that even in NYC she calls Watts up for help. I liked Watts dancing in many things, although she was never one of my favorites. In her later years she was overly mannered, but she has openly stated that after Balanchine's death she didn't dance well.

In any event the greatest dancers don't necessarily make the best coaches.

In any event the greatest dancers don't necessarily make the best coaches.

Certainly reliable utility ballerinas can make good, even great coaches. My larger point was that Watts embodies issues that made the Martins regime controversial in the first place and having her back at the company isn’t exactly opening the door to fresh breezes and influences. I note that when Allison Brown hopped into that limo Watts was one of the in-group putting Cass down.

 I’m sure she’s a perfectly fine coach and could be/is helpful to dancers at NYCB.

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15 minutes ago, dirac said:

In any event the greatest dancers don't necessarily make the best coaches.

Certainly reliable utility ballerinas can make good, even great coaches. My larger point was that Watts embodies issues that made the Martins regime controversial in the first place and having her back at the company isn’t exactly opening the door to fresh breezes and influences. I note that when Allison Brown hopped into that limo Watts was one of the in-group putting Cass down.

 I’m sure she’s a perfectly fine coach and could be/is helpful to dancers at NYCB.

So many excellent points. But it reminded me of how complex the NYCB situation is.

Many would love Woetzel to be AD. Watts is married to Woetzel (and is Peter Martins ex). By all accounts she has been heavily involved in the coaching and programming in Vale. If Woetzel was at NYCB Watts would be involved in one way or another, even if just behind the scenes.

I have to think that it's very hard for Darci Kistler to continue teaching & coaching while this whole thing spins around her.

NYCB has had history of relationships within the company: siblings, marrages, love affairs etc. That sure adds a layer of complexity to many situations. 

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17 minutes ago, vipa said:

 

I have to think that it's very hard for Darci Kistler to continue teaching & coaching while this whole thing spins around her.

NYCB has had history of relationships within the company: siblings, marrages, love affairs etc. That sure adds a layer of complexity to many situations. 

If Martins in ousted or forced out via immediate retirement, would Darci continue teaching and coaching at SAB. She is much younger that Martins.

Considering that this mess is compounded by the problems of daughter Talicia, this must be a very difficult time for Kistler. 

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13 hours ago, sandik said:

Hearsay is inadmissible in court for a reason.

Yet there are hearsay exceptions that are admissible in court.  Additionally, hearsay is not a valid objection to refrain from responding to a question in deposition, interrogatories, or other forms of discovery, as the response may lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.   

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