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Peter Martins Sexual Harassment Allegations


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58 minutes ago, balletforme said:

I hope that women will learn how/when/where/why to speak up so that they can clearly draw boundaries. To really stop this, women must say to male perpetrators, "Please stop."  

That has worked so well in the past.  As has attempting to fight back physically.  As has going to the police.  As has filing complaints with the union.  As has filing complaints with HR.  As has filing complaints with management.

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1 hour ago, balletforme said:

I hope that women will learn how/when/where/why to speak up so that they can clearly draw boundaries. To really stop this, women must say to male perpetrators, "Please stop."  

Helene responded:

That has worked so well in the past.  As has attempting to fight back physically.  As has going to the police.  As has filing complaints with the union.  As has filing complaints with HR.  As has filing complaints with management.

 balletforme,  why say please???

Helene, I agree with everything you've written.  Women already know how to speak up, especially the when and why.  I don't think it's possible "to really stop this", however  it is men who have to learn.  

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35 minutes ago, Marta said:

 Women already know how to speak up, especially the when and why.  I don't think it's possible "to really stop this", however  it is men who have to learn.  

I had the impression that a significant portion of the sexual harassment debate has been devoted to women’s fear of speaking up, hence the recourse to anonymous accusations, etc.  The term “Stockholm syndrome” has been used here.  If women always felt capable not only of a “Please stop” but “Knock it off” things might indeed be very different.

 

That said -- it’s a tremendous, and unjust, burden on women to be the gatekeepers. Part of that is the way our cultural expectations of the sexes are structured – men make the first move, women say no or yes or maybe – and that feeds into sexual harassment situations.  Absolutely men have to examine their own conduct and assumptions.

And having said that -- I think this quote is apropos:

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“I don’t believe you change hearts. I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate.”

 

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1 hour ago, Marta said:

 Women already know how to speak up, especially the when and why.  I don't think it's possible "to really stop this", however  it is men who have to learn.  

Given that (we) men are human beings, I expect some hearts and minds are being changed by all this attention to and discussion of the issue. But I also agree that's it's not possible to completely stop and prevent sexual harassment. Or to put it another way, we'll only stop it when we manage to change human (not male) nature. That's why the zero tolerance precedent finally being set now is so important.

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I hear the critiques but I still maintain that women will likely become more (assertive, informed, savvy, fill in your own adjective).  Women will change and men will as well.

And, well, we have a ton of laws, and systems but in order for those to work people must correctly use them.  Many issues can't be solved legislatively.  It's always a popular approach with the politicians but unless the laws are really lacking, it's not really a solution.  Norms in certain industries (ballet, entertainment) must change.  Peter Martins did this because there was a larger culture that was complicit. 

And Helene, I actually do have hope and expectation.  It's a life philosophy and, in many respects a cognitive choice.  

Edited by balletforme
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4 hours ago, balletforme said:

I hear the critiques but I still maintain that women will likely become more (assertive, informed, savvy, fill in your own adjective).  Women will change and men will as well.

 

Even if women become more assertive, informed and savvy, a power imbalance will prevent them from speaking up unless there is a deep cultural shift in our society. If you are afraid of losing a job (which could include heath insurance for you and your family) you'll  think again before rocking the boat and risking your livelihood and medical care for your kids.

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On 12/18/2017 at 11:12 AM, kfw said:

Given that (we) men are human beings, I expect some hearts and minds are being changed by all this attention to and discussion of the issue. But I also agree that's it's not possible to completely stop and prevent sexual harassment. Or to put it another way, we'll only stop it when we manage to change human (not male) nature. That's why the zero tolerance precedent finally being set now is so important.

It's certainly not a question of denying anyone's humanity, although some would say that sexual harassment and sexual abuse are to some extent a denial of the full humanity of the victims of both sexes.

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3 minutes ago, dirac said:

It's certainly not a question of denying anyone's humanity, although some would say that sexual harassment and sexual abuse are to some extent a denial of the full humanity of the victims of both sexes.

I don't mean anyone was denying anyone's humanity; I just meant "human nature being what it is . . . " Sorry to be unclear. I think your second clause makes an important point. 

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Just to add to this conversation. 

One thing that I read yesterday was that many companies actually require binding arbitration which could actually prevent filing suit.  This is, in my opinion, a law that could change-- The requirement of binding arbitration will not stand in cases of sexual harassment and/or assault. 

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Often the binding arbitration clause is between employee and employer, not individuals working for the employer. So it may not be possible to bring a civil suit against NYCB or SAB, but it may be possible to file suit against Peter Martins personally. 

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My goodness I'm coming to this topic late!  And it's taken me so long to peruse this thread! I only want to add a few thoughts floating through my head after all this reading. May I preface this by stating clearly that I have various mixed feelings pro and con about the things I am going to add to the discussion; I am not trying to make any definitive points here. 

1. I wonder that I haven't seen any discussion of the following: We're talking about NYCB here, George Balanchine, founder, director, choreographer. In his time, notoriously fond of women!!! "Ballet is woman". Multiple marriages.....what about affairs??? (I don't know). How would he have fared in today's environment? Would he have been accused by dancers of inappropriate contact? Of feeling pressure regarding their careers? Would he have ended up being fired or leaving? Would we now have all the wonderful ballets we now love? Does that matter? Would there even be a NYCB run by a Peter Martins? Remember: I take no stance here, I have very mixed feelings about all of these issues. These are just things I wonder about.

2. Most of the great classical ballets hail from times when views of men and women are very different than they are now. Will they become the monuments that must be torn down? Would that be right or wrong? How would we--you, I--feel about that?

3. I had a long conversation once with a dance teacher colleague when we discussed how much the ballet world, or ballet companies at any rate, are like dysfunctional families. Everyone participates in one way or another: director, dancers, boards, administrators, etc. By their aggression, by their passivity,, by their silence, by their looking away, by their taking personal advantage. Co-dependents, if you will. We can remove one person, but the problem is much harder to resolve, if indeed it is resolvable.

4. Physical abuse: there are many kinds of physical abuse. What about the pressure, still, to be very thin? IMO, this can certainly be physically abusive. 

5. And finally, the whole history of ballet....in some ways, we have come a long way from the early years of dancers being expected to be the "consorts" of powerful men, or, for the corps de ballet dancers, just plain prostitutes.

 

 

 

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Balanchine's womanizing, though, speaks to creating a hostile work environment, which is separate from acts of sexual harassment directly against specific individuals or physical violence.  You don't have to be a "basher" and can be a "gentleman"  and still contribute to a hostile work environment, and, on those grounds, Balanchine would be an epic fail.

It's unlikely anyone would have protested or spoke up against him, though. 

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1 hour ago, Helene said:

Balanchine's womanizing, though, speaks to creating a hostile work environment, which is separate from acts of sexual harassment directly against specific individuals or physical violence.  You don't have to be a "basher" and can be a "gentleman"  and still contribute to a hostile work environment, and, on those grounds, Balanchine would be an epic fail.

It's unlikely anyone would have protested or spoke up against him, though. 

Has anyone spoken out and said so since? Leaving aside Farrell, who it seems never stopped loving him in her own way despite his wanting more, do we know of instances where his attention was unwanted? We know that Balanchine could be jealous of and even vindicative towards male dancers, but his ballerinas all seemed to revere him. Today they might see him differently, but if none did then, maybe they saw him truly. I'm sure he wasn't the only person in the company falling in love a lot. Even his wives never really spoke ill of him.

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3 hours ago, Stage Right said:

My goodness I'm coming to this topic late!  And it's taken me so long to peruse this thread! I only want to add a few thoughts floating through my head after all this reading. May I preface this by stating clearly that I have various mixed feelings pro and con about the things I am going to add to the discussion; I am not trying to make any definitive points here. 

1. I wonder that I haven't seen any discussion of the following: We're talking about NYCB here, George Balanchine, founder, director, choreographer. In his time, notoriously fond of women!!! "Ballet is woman". Multiple marriages.....what about affairs??? (I don't know). How would he have fared in today's environment? Would he have been accused by dancers of inappropriate contact? Of feeling pressure regarding their careers? Would he have ended up being fired or leaving? Would we now have all the wonderful ballets we now love? Does that matter? Would there even be a NYCB run by a Peter Martins? Remember: I take no stance here, I have very mixed feelings about all of these issues. These are just things I wonder abou

One of many interesting and thought provoking thoughts Stage Right. Some things, I believe, go back to the idea of separating the dancer from the dance. I thought back to many, many years ago when I was a dancer. Even as a young teen there were many situations (daily classes, guest teachers, scholarship auditions etc.) in which the dressing room talk was - "he (teacher, auditioner) likes you, or, likes me, or, likes her. I don't remember saying or hearing - he likes her dancing. It was always he likes her. I don't know how if that has changed, but I dare say that the meshing of a sense of self and sense of who you are as a dancer is still a truth for many dancers. 

In terms of someone like Balanchine there may have also been a meshing of the person and the dancer. There was very likely an attraction to a look and a movement quality. That person becomes a favorite. It's complicated.

 

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11 minutes ago, kfw said:

Has anyone spoken out and said so since?

That's only relevant to establishing that a hostile work environment exists if the Board or company management is waiting for someone else to raise the issue.  They can act without anyone bringing it up or saying a word, when the boss is having sexual/romantic relationships with his employees.

One way to create a hostile work environment is when bosses have sexual/romantic relationships with their reports, regardless of the fact of being consensual.  Balanchine clearly did.

 

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49 minutes ago, Helene said:

That's only relevant to establishing that a hostile work environment exists if the Board or company management is waiting for someone else to raise the issue.  They can act without anyone bringing it up or saying a word, when the boss is having sexual/romantic relationships with his employees.

One way to create a hostile work environment is when bosses have sexual/romantic relationships with their reports, regardless of the fact of being consensual.  Balanchine clearly did.

 

I think your second paragraph is plainly true. Balanchine's pursuit of women could have created an environment in which the female dancers were uncomfortable with him, feared his attention, and feared to refuse it. But 34 years after his death, no one, to my knowledge, has publicly said that was the case. By all accounts, they loved him. It's possible that someone will say otherwise now, given all the attention sexual harassment is receiving. But until such a time, the opposite appears to be true.

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11 minutes ago, kfw said:

But 34 years after his death, no one, to my knowledge, has publicly said that was the case. By all accounts, they loved him. It's possible that someone will say otherwise now, given all the attention sexual harassment is receiving. But until such a time, the opposite appears to be true.

Gelsey Kirkland did: in "Dancing on My Grave," she described being a young dancer in the company and hearing that Balanchine, in exchange for gropes, would have appliances delivered to their apartments.  Imagine being a young teenager, and learning this about someone people considered to be god-like, your new boss.

The dancer world closed ranks and bombarded her with criticism, rage, and distain.  

Farrell actually did in her own way:  after a journalist asked if she was going to be Balanchine's fifth wife (after "Don Quixote," if I recall correctly), she balked, and her explanation has always been that she didn't want to be one in a line of others.

 

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8 minutes ago, kfw said:

I think your second paragraph is plainly true. Balanchine's pursuit of women could have created an environment in which the female dancers were uncomfortable with him, feared his attention, and feared to refuse it. But 34 years after his death, no one, to my knowledge, has publicly said that was the case. By all accounts, they loved him. It's possible that someone will say otherwise now, given all the attention sexual harassment is receiving. But until such a time, the opposite appears to be true.

Suzanne Farrel obviously adores him; that doesn't make her account (in her book) of how he treated her seem normal or ok. 

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4 minutes ago, Helene said:

Gelsey Kirkland did: she described being a young dancer in the company and hearing that Balanchine, in exchange for gropes, would have appliances delivered to their apartments.  Imagine being a young teenager, and learning this about someone people considered to be god-like, your new boss.

The dancer world closed ranks and bombarded her with criticism, rage, and distain.  

In the back of my mind I'm been thinking- would the dance world respond to her book the same way now?  There seemed to be so little compassion for her.  

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33 minutes ago, Helene said:

Gelsey Kirkland did: in "Dancing on My Grave," she described being a young dancer in the company and hearing that Balanchine, in exchange for gropes, would have appliances delivered to their apartments.  Imagine being a young teenager, and learning this about someone people considered to be god-like, your new boss.

The dancer world closed ranks and bombarded her with criticism, rage, and distain.  

Farrell actually did in her own way:  after a journalist asked if she was going to be Balanchine's fifth wife (after "Don Quixote," if I recall correctly), she balked, and her explanation has always been that she didn't want to be one in a line of others.

 

If the Kirkland story is true, I'm sure more such accounts will emerge now. Not to knock her, but given her other troubles she perhaps wasn't the most reliable interpreter of events. Farrell was smart enough to see that Balanchine wouldn't idolize her forever; that's a far cry from feeling she was in a hostile work environment. 

Balletwannabe, for people to fall in love which each other and treat each other badly when that love is not reciprocated is unfortunately quite normal in the sense of being common. Farrell was the one wronged there, and she apparently had no trouble forgiving him, continuing to work with him, and seeking to work with him again after she couldn't. That says a lot, I think.

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5 hours ago, Helene said:

Gelsey Kirkland did: in "Dancing on My Grave," she described being a young dancer in the company and hearing that Balanchine, in exchange for gropes, would have appliances delivered to their apartments.  Imagine being a young teenager, and learning this about someone people considered to be god-like, your new boss.

The dancer world closed ranks and bombarded her with criticism, rage, and distain.  

Farrell actually did in her own way:  after a journalist asked if she was going to be Balanchine's fifth wife (after "Don Quixote," if I recall correctly), she balked, and her explanation has always been that she didn't want to be one in a line of others.

 

I would think the dancers that might have complained about Balanchine are the ones who left or who gave up ballet. Mostly we're familiar with dancers who stayed and had big careers.

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19 hours ago, kfw said:

I think your second paragraph is plainly true. Balanchine's pursuit of women could have created an environment in which the female dancers were uncomfortable with him, feared his attention, and feared to refuse it. But 34 years after his death, no one, to my knowledge, has publicly said that was the case. By all accounts, they loved him. It's possible that someone will say otherwise now, given all the attention sexual harassment is receiving. But until such a time, the opposite appears to be true.

True. Adding to this that wives, ex-wives, and lovers all seemed to get on fine in the theater, despite the usual competitive tensions in the hothouse ballet environment. Adams and Le Clercq would invite Farrell to play cards. Edward Villella has said that the atmosphere when Balanchine was composing for his current muse tended to be very high. Probably the nearest the company came to a “toxic environment” that we know of to date was in the late period of his Farrell obsession, when everybody seems to have been pretty miserable. But that was because Farrell wasn’t sleeping with him.

We do have Frankfurt's testimony about "the girl in Saratoga," etc., which is troubling, but not much to go on.

Helene writes:

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her explanation has always been that she didn't want to be one in a line of others.

 

She’s always been in a line  -- the great line of Balanchine dancers and muses. Just not that line. I think the simplest explanation was something she says in her book – she “didn’t want to go home with George and be married.”  She wasn’t attracted to him physically and did not want to live with him.  She also wasn’t the type of woman who becomes the doting and happy wife of a famous older man.

(It is curious, and has been remarked on before, that the man she did marry, Paul Mejia, bore a general resemblance to the young Balanchine.)

Balanchine was a man who had to start over in his life more than once. My guess is he’d pick up stakes and go somewhere more hospitable rather than have some board tell him who he could and couldn’t sleep with or marry. Or someone with his passion for all women but not necessarily for one woman would simply not go into ballet and his genius would find a home elsewhere.

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