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Peter Martins Sexual Harassment Allegations

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56 minutes ago, Drew said:

But, for example, in some cases they haven't been in the work force that long, nor are they as likely to be supporting families as older workers are etc. So what if some of their surprise at what people have "put up with" may have to do with lack of work experience not changing norms?

There are also many reasons -- demographic, geographic, educational, physical, debt-related are just some -- why many many people cannot just get up and leave for something better.  It is a privilege to have the means to do that.

There are also professionals like ballet where there are lots of people ready to take your place if you don't like it, plus the culture of ballet that pressures dancers to be compliant.

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1 hour ago, Helene said:

There are also many reasons -- demographic, geographic, educational, physical, debt-related are just some -- why many many people cannot just get up and leave for something better.  It is a privilege to have the means to do that.

There are also professionals like ballet where there are lots of people ready to take your place if you don't like it, plus the culture of ballet that pressures dancers to be compliant.

Great points. On the first - I know of a woman who is a single mother who is miserable in her workplace. Her job means not only her livelihood, but health insurance for herself and her kid, and looking for a better job is not so easy when you're a single mom working full time.

On the second point, the reality is that ballet dancers want to dance. They also know that opportunities are limited and time is not your friend, so they are willing to put up with a lot. Quit a company and you've not only lost your source of income but have the expense of staying in shape in order to audition for other companies. Other companies that will look at your resume and ask why you left, or speak to friends in that company and ask about you.

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8 hours ago, Drew said:

The article does quotes "twenty somethings" saying they wouldn't put up with what older generations put with ...but I can't help wondering about how to interpret that..."Twenty somethings" often are dubious about what they judge to be the compromises of older generations--and rightly so.  But, for example, in some cases they haven't been in the work force that long, nor are they as likely to be supporting families as older workers are etc. So what if some of their surprise at what people have "put up with" may have to do with lack of work experience not changing norms?

Without sounding like a vacuous optimist, I can say that things have indeed improved, incrementally in some cases.  Young folk are right to be impatient with this, and to bring their sense of urgency to the issue.  Previous generations of young folk have done that as well -- it's how progress gets made.

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On 12/8/2017 at 9:41 AM, fondoffouettes said:

Yes, between the NYT and WaPo, it seems that neither paper has been able to identify concrete, specific examples of  sexual abuse/harassment. The example you mention above seemed to really be reaching. Physical abuse is another matter, though.

I know I'm late posting, but according to NYTimes several dancers have said that Martins created a culture where he had affairs with dancers and those dancers then got better roles. That would go against the "preclude a reporting relationship" part of Lincoln Center policy, and justify the investigation of sexual harrassment even if the affairs were consensual. Because NYT said several dancers, and because these were affairs they can't be talking about Darci Kistler getting better roles after marrying Martins. The implication is that he cheated on her, and the women he cheated on her with got better roles. Also, these are not anonymous reports, just people who don't want their names in the newspaper.

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On 12/13/2017 at 3:40 AM, 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.

I also remember that Watts was interviewed after Martins' arrest for attacking Kistler,  and she maintained that he had never physically abused her.  But I realize she may have been trying to save face.

There are statistics on domestic abuse that might help this conversation. Of the women who are killed by domestic partners, this says 75% are killed when they try to leave. During a domestic assault court case, I heard testimony that the % is actually higher, in the 90% range. My main point is that speaking out against an abuser can be physically dangerous and fatal. Just something to keep in mind as people are wondering about the cost of speaking out.

From http://www.domesticabuseshelter.org/infodomesticviolence.htm

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE STATISTICS

  • One out of every three women will be abused at some point in her life.
  • Battering is the single major cause of injury to women, exceeding rapes, muggings and auto accidents combined.
  • A woman is more likely to be killed by a male partner (or former partner) than any other person.
  • About 4,000 women die each year due to domestic violence.
  • Of the total domestic violence homicides, about 75% of the victims were killed as they attempted to leave the relationship or after the relationship had ended.

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Thank you, BalanchineFan. I'd like to add an aside: I don't see it as Watts "saving face" at all. I see it as within the realm of two possibilities: what BalanchineFan posted above and the need to save her career. One doesn't need to imagine what being blacklisted by a man the likes of Martins in power will do to one's livelihood. She had no choice back then. She decided to keep her enemy close. I think she had to.

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2 hours ago, vagansmom said:

 She decided to keep her enemy close. I think she had to.

If we are going this far into speculation about motives  -- Keeping him close in limos, trashing young dancers, as Allison Brown asserts? (I'm just asking.)

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Stockholm Syndrome?  It reads very much like junior high school bullying: the lieutenants have to show more enthusiasm than the chief to show their loyalty, but that doesn't mean that enthusiasm isn't sincere.

Watts has still never said a bad thing about Martins in any interview I've ever heard or read, but she's blamed herself quite often, not about their relationship, but about her professional behavior after Balanchine's death.  In a very recent interview she's continued to defend his administration of the company in light of what an impossible job it was.  And I've never heard her take any bait.

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4 hours ago, BalanchineFan said:

I know I'm late posting, but according to NYTimes several dancers have said that Martins created a culture where he had affairs with dancers and those dancers then got better roles. That would go against the "preclude a reporting relationship" part of Lincoln Center policy, and justify the investigation of sexual harrassment even if the affairs were consensual. Because NYT said several dancers, and because these were affairs they can't be talking about Darci Kistler getting better roles after marrying Martins. The implication is that he cheated on her, and the women he cheated on her with got better roles. Also, these are not anonymous reports, just people who don't want their names in the newspaper.

That is certainly the implication, although additional details about the alleged affairs and the circumstances would be helpful and that's the kind of thing the board has to look at. "Affair" can apply to liaisons where neither party is married. We know for certain that Martins had multiple affairs with dancers before he took control of the company, and we know at least several of their names because they've made it into print one way or another.

Be that as it may, the issue is not whether he was unfaithful to Kistler but if those alleged affairs were specific instances  and/or created a larger environment of sexual harassment.

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Personally, the way I look at it, this is really a question of whether he can go forward and carry out this duties effectively.  Will he really be able to go out and raise the funds that NYCB/SAB needs? Does the Board really want him to be the face going out and asking potential donors to write checks?  What about maintaining relationships with high-profile creatives?  How many of them are going to want to have photos standing next to him at galas?

True, sidwich.  Martins would likely have to come through with a perfectly clean slate to get through this, particularly with regard to any recent instances of trouble. It's hard to see him doing that and it's possible the Board is simply buying time. They can say truthfully they investigated thoroughly while figuring out what to do next. (I certainly hope they're not sitting on their hands waiting for the outcome.)

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I know I'm late posting, but according to NYTimes several dancers have said that Martins created a culture where he had affairs with dancers and those dancers then got better roles.

 

The problem with this assertion is the fact that there is no shortage of roles at NYCB that have multiple casts.  For instance,  during Nutcracker,  there might be eight or more Dewdrops and Sugar Plum Fairies,  from all levels in the company,  corps to principals.  Add in injuries and unforeseen circumstances which give understudies many opportunities,  and it's hard to make the case that dancers lose out on roles because they aren't sleeping with Peter Martins.  Maybe he only has affairs with the more talented dancers to begin with.  At any rate,  all of the dancers he allegedly had consensual affairs with were well aware that they were fooling around with a married man. (Please don't hate me for playing devil's advocate!  Any defender worth his salt would point out that there is more than a whiff of sour grapes in some of these anonymous claims.) 

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On 12/15/2017 at 8:52 AM, lmspear said:

I guess this would count as collateral damage: Martins set the example for young dancers in the company and the children in the school of how to treat people who report to you. It will be buried somewhere in their memories that it is acceptable to bully and throw tantrums. 

 

And this is a fundamental problem.  Like the article by Dahlia Lithwick, even when we are not the victim of bad action, but "only" a witness, when we see that there are no substantial consequences, we learn that our culture will tolerate abuse.  And we act in the future having absorbed that lesson.

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38 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

The problem with this assertion is the fact that there is no shortage of roles at NYCB that have multiple casts.  For instance,  during Nutcracker,  there might be eight or more Dewdrops and Sugar Plum Fairies,  from all levels in the company,  corps to principals.  Add in injuries and unforeseen circumstances which give understudies many opportunities,  and it's hard to make the case that dancers lose out on roles because they aren't sleeping with Peter Martins.

And many do not.  Robert Gottlieb described the challenges of putting together a schedule, and a main challenge was creating programs and weeks of programs so that there wouldn't be too many of a specific dancer's ballets on the same program or two programs in one day, knowing in advance who "owned" which ballets, particularly in the one-act ballets.  In the '80's to mid-'90's, when I tried to see multiple casts of everything Balanchine and Robbins, there were dancers who were never replaced or where another danced once in the middle of a six-season run, and these were major roles, like Odette in Balanchine's "Swan Lake (Act II)", and "Agon" pas de deux.

 

38 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

Maybe he only has affairs with the more talented dancers to begin with.  At any rate,  all of the dancers he allegedly had consensual affairs with were well aware that they were fooling around with a married man. (Please don't hate me for playing devil's advocate!  Any defender worth his salt would point out that there is more than a whiff of sour grapes in some of these anonymous claims.) 

And I would expect defenders to claim "sour grapes," because it deflects from the policy and legal issue of consensual affairs between bosses and employees and hostile work environments and dismisses and demeans those who have legitimate complaints.  What any dancers who had consensual or coerced relationships with him knew about his marital status is irrelevant to the effects those relationships had on the workplace.

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On 12/8/2017 at 9:30 AM, Helene said:

I loved her dancing and was sad when she left.  After reading the WaPo article, I'm not sad that she escaped.

I now understand why Cass, who was considered a frontrunner for principal status, was never promoted from soloist and left the company. I always wondered. I remember a marvelous "Tarantella" with her.

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6 hours ago, On Pointe said:

The problem with this assertion is the fact that there is no shortage of roles at NYCB that have multiple casts.  For instance,  during Nutcracker,  there might be eight or more Dewdrops and Sugar Plum Fairies,  from all levels in the company,  corps to principals. 

Nutcracker is its own world -- with that many performances, you need to cast deep, and many companies use it as a vehicle to give corps members a chance to dance above their usual pay grade.  The trick at NYCB is to cast the season after Nut, where the grind of so many performances put a lot of people on an injured list.

 

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On 12/13/2017 at 2:40 AM, 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.

 

'Abusive?' Hardly. Harshly correct. What Croce said about Watts was never less than the truth; she excoriated Watts for omitting, simplifying, and butchering steps and sometimes entire roles; for projecting her own neuroses and demons onstage in ballets as a sort of attempt to add 'drama;' and for doing all this shamelessly. In fact, Croce frequently praised Watts in print until after Balanchine's death, when things truly went south for good. I was present at many horrific Watts performances in the later Eighties and early Nineties; if anything, Croce was restrained in her characterization.

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1987 or maybe 1988 was a real tipping point for Watts, in my opinion.

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23 minutes ago, jsmu said:

I now understand why Cass, who was considered a frontrunner for principal status, was never promoted from soloist and left the company. I always wondered. I remember a marvelous "Tarantella" with her.

I think the problem here is that lots of people have opinions about who should be promoted and who shouldn't. Promotions are a subjective thing, and many soloists who have been great in some principal roles  don't get promoted. 

 I've been going to NYCB for a long time. I'd be hard pressed to find a consistent pattern of inadequate dancers being cast in roles. Add to that, NYCB is a company in which the tradition is to throw them in and let them sink or swim. In my experience most swim. There are dancers who I would like to see promoted or given more opportunities, but it is a matter of taste. 

In fact, I find myself shaking my head more at promotions and casting at ABT more than at NYCB. 

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18 hours ago, On Pointe said:

  Any defender worth his salt would point out that there is more than a whiff of sour grapes in some of these anonymous claims.) 

I don't think we can guess that it's sour grapes unless and until we know who made the claims. For all we know, they were made by principals. 

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Off topic, but I was  so surprised to see that Lorin Stein recently resigned from the Paris Review for having established an unhealthy work environment there. From the photo spread of the rather nice Paris Review loft Refinery29 did several years ago, it looked as though the staff were all very attractive young women, except for one young man (with a weighty copy of Charles M Doughty on his desk for literary ballast), and I thought where are the little crowded offices piled with books, and where are the crusty old sharp-penciled editors like Mary Norris or Brendan Gill at the New Yorker who used to work in such offices in the old days. 

 

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“I have long admired Lorin as a really dedicated, talented editor,” said Meghan O’Rourke, a poet and the former poetry editor at the Paris Review. “But the editor-writer relationship is a very intimate relationship, and you have a lot of power when you’re finding young writers and cultivating them and giving them a platform, and to routinely sexualize that is to send a damaging message to young female writers who are trying to get a toehold in a world that is still male dominated.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/06/books/lorin-stein-resigns-the-paris-review.html

http://www.refinery29.com/2013/07/50842/paris-review-office

Edited by Quiggin

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4 hours ago, Quiggin said:

Off topic, but I was  so surprised to see that Lorin Stein recently resigned from the Paris Review for having established an unhealthy work environment there. From the photo spread of the rather nice Paris Review loft Refinery29 did several years ago, it looked as though the staff were all very attractive young women, except for one young man (with a weighty copy of Charles M Doughty on his desk for literary ballast), and I thought where are the little crowded offices piled with books, and where are the crusty old sharp-penciled editors like Mary Norris or Brendan Gill at the New Yorker who used to work in such offices in the old days. 

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/06/books/lorin-stein-resigns-the-paris-review.html

http://www.refinery29.com/2013/07/50842/paris-review-office

And to continue that off-topic topic, an article about succession at Paris Review, and how it does and doesn't work well. 

Returning you to your regularly scheduled programming...

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On 12/16/2017 at 11:08 AM, Helene said:

And I would expect defenders to claim "sour grapes," because it deflects from the policy and legal issue of consensual affairs between bosses and employees and hostile work environments and dismisses and demeans those who have legitimate complaints.  What any dancers who had consensual or coerced relationships with him knew about his marital status is irrelevant to the effects those relationships had on the workplace.

Yes, it's an obvious defense. That doesn't mean that the "sour grapes" don't exist, among principals as well as those who don't make it so far.  (Joan Crawford:  "How can I compete with Norma when she sleeps with the boss?" Very well, as it turned out.)  It's up to investigators to sort this kind of thing out when it's a fuzzy area - and fuzzy areas do exist.  It also won't be much of a defense if the accuser's story is believable, particularly in the current environment with heightened awareness.

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11 hours ago, kfw said:

I don't think we can guess that it's sour grapes unless and until we know who made the claims. For all we know, they were made by principals. 

It's worth noting the old statistics saw,  "correlation is not always causation".  Whether a certain dancer is cast in a role may not have anything to do with having sex with the artistic director.  (Although many,  assumed that Heather Watts was cast so much because of her long-term relationship with Martins.  It's been a while so I don't recall,  but I don't think Watts lost all of her roles after they broke up.)

One could make the case that Martins should be removed because his liaisons created a hostile work environment - they sure do for Darci Kistler! - but apparently the board allowed it to go on for years,  so Wilhelmina Frankfurt is correct when she says that "throwing him under the bus" doesn't absolve the board members of responsibility.  Is anyone claiming that Martins threatened them with loss of roles,  or promised them better ones,  if they did or did not have sex with him?  If so it's a slam dunk.

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On 12/15/2017 at 11:19 PM, sandik said:

Without sounding like a vacuous optimist, I can say that things have indeed improved, incrementally in some cases.  Young folk are right to be impatient with this, and to bring their sense of urgency to the issue.  Previous generations of young folk have done that as well -- it's how progress gets made.

Drew writes:

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The article does quotes "twenty somethings" saying they wouldn't put up with what older generations put with ...but I can't help wondering about how to interpret that..."Twenty somethings" often are dubious about what they judge to be the compromises of older generations--and rightly so.  But, for example, in some cases they haven't been in the work force that long, nor are they as likely to be supporting families as older workers are etc. So what if some of their surprise at what people have "put up with" may have to do with lack of work experience not changing norms?

Yes. Twenty-somethings haven't necessarily been in the workplace long enough to understand what their elders had to deal with and are still dealing with. Sometimes sexual harassment doesn't start in earnest until the jobs get bigger and the stakes get higher.

I tend to shy away from overuse of generational distinctions, but progress isn't guaranteed with every generation, and every new generation is not necessarily more "advanced" than the previous one. It's my hope, however, that real change will come out of this, and young women will have to carry on the fight for that.

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26 minutes ago, dirac said:

I tend to shy away from overuse of generational distinctions, but progress isn't guaranteed with every generation, and every new generation is not necessarily more "advanced" than the previous one. It's my hope, however, that real change will come out of this, and young women will have to carry on the fight for that.

A less optimistic view about whether substantive change will happen, and an implicit warning about the consequences of not making those changes:

https://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/fempire-strikes-back

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1 hour ago, Helene said:

A less optimistic view about whether substantive change will happen, and an implicit warning about the consequences of not making those changes:

https://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/fempire-strikes-bac

I'm hoping for substantive change, but the article articulates some of what I have been feeling in a much more inchoate way:

"None of this is new, though we tend to act as if it were.  Just last week, for instance, I heard three young women radio reporters explain that women back in the 1970s or 1980s accepted 'unwanted male attention' in the office and in life 'because that’s just the way things were.' [...]

"Please, can we get this straight?  Back in those ancient times -- the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s -- we did not accept violence against women in the workplace or any place else.  It’s true we hesitated to report it to employers or the police, because when we did, we had to watch them laugh it off or send us packing. But we did call it out. We named it. We described it. We wrote books about all forms of violence against women -- all those 'man-hating' books that these days, if anyone cares to look, may not seem quite so obsolete. [...]

"... since I’ve traveled this route before, you’ll have to excuse me for thinking that when this big train passes, it could leave behind a system -- predators, enablers, silencers, spies, and thoroughly entrenched sex discrimination -- not so very different from that of the 1970s. And if that happens, no doubt those lying dead on the tracks will prove, upon official examination, to be female."

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