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Peter Martins Sexual Harassment Allegations


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For all the accounts I have read about Balanchine and all his wives, muses  and female dancers, my general impression was that women were not particularly afraid of him in the sexual advancement field, for which most of the writing is about all this women really wanting to get closer to the coreographer rather than the man. And at the pinnacle of the idea there goes the infamously annulled marriage with Tallchief, which according to her was never physically consummated.

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40 minutes ago, dirac said:

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.

Absolutely:  more than once he said he'd leave to accept an offer in Switzerland to start a company of his own.  Once was when the dancers didn't want to go to Germany to film ballets -- the results of which were an epic fail -- and if they voted against it, he said he'd walk.  

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The NYCB Board has taken a different approach than ABT or the Philadelphia Orchestra:

Original Statement:

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(Philadelphia, December 21, 2017)—The Philadelphia Orchestra Association was horrified to learn of the deeply troubling accusations of sexual misconduct against Charles Dutoit. We had no knowledge of these allegations. The Association is committed to providing a safe and respectful work environment for all of its employees and guest artists. We have had no communication with Mr. Dutoit and he has no future engagements with the Orchestra.


 

 

 

We deplore the type of behavior described by Mr. Dutoit’s accusers and we recognize our responsibility to be a forceful opponent of abuses of power. The seriousness of the accusations demands a thorough investigation. We offer our sincerest sympathy to those who have been impacted.

Follow-up statement:

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(Philadelphia, December 22, 2017)—Effective immediately, The Philadelphia Orchestra Association has discontinued its affiliation with Charles Dutoit and removed his honorary title of Conductor Laureate. The Association does not tolerate harassment of any kind and is committed to providing a safe, supportive, and respectful work environment. We encourage anyone in our organization who has experienced inappropriate conduct of any type to come forward, and we will respond with the utmost seriousness and sensitivity.

 

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On 12/19/2017 at 1:14 PM, kfw said:

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. 

I just saw this, kfw.  I did take it differently. Thanks for clarifying.

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The NYCB Board has taken a different approach than ABT or the Philadelphia Orchestra:

Different cases may require different handling. In Dutoit's case, the original Associated Press story had multiple women coming forward without the shield of anonymity (not knocking those who choose anonymity, for the record), making detailed claims that the AP says it was able to document insofar as such incidents can be documented. In addition I suspect that few of the orchestras involved were stunned by the revelations......

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On 12/20/2017 at 5:54 PM, On Pointe said:

If we are going to jettison works of art because they express a viewpoint not aligned with our current sensibility,  how do we start and where do we stop?  As a black American,  I could certainly do without any more showings of Birth of a Nation,  and I like to believe that most white Americans would agree.   But what about Gone With the Wind,  Showboat,  Imitation of Life,  The Member of the Wedding?  All of these films have artistic virtues,  and all of them depict African Americans in demeaning stereotypes.   Even a more current film,  the much-lauded The Help,  is problematic.  Do we throw them out and pretend that the attitudes depicted never existed?

I took a little break from this thread, and so have a couple of comments on older posts.

Film is a slightly different animal, since it's a fixed form (unless you can do a sweep and replace, as director of "All the Money in the World" did with Kevin Spacey), while in dance there is the possibility of alteration.  We don't lose anything significant if the blackface role in Balanchine's Sonambula is performed without that makeup.  But it's more difficult when it comes to something like Petrouchka -- the "Blackamoor" not only uses blackface makeup, but perpetuates some nasty stereotypes.  And so, as On Pointe asks, do we discard the ballet altogether?  Perform just excerpts?  Dance the whole thing as an artifact of an earlier, awfuller time?  I have no solution to this problem.

 

On 12/20/2017 at 6:19 PM, vipa said:

On Pointe you make so many great statements. Even as a child (I'm in my 60's now) I was uncomfortable with Lucy and the Honeymooners. I see my attitude change with other works. In Fancy Free I struggle with the scene with the woman with the purse. Is it threatening? Is it funny?

When I watch Nutcracker I wonder what Chinese people in the audience make of the Chinese dance in many productions.

I've met several younger dance critics who are ready to ditch Fancy Free because of the menacing byplay with the purse.  And every year I hear complaints about yellow-face stereotypes when it comes to Nutcracker.  Pacific Northwest Ballet switched productions a couple of years ago, from a local production to the Balanchine -- the designs for the new show were deemed slightly less offensive, but we're still dealing with mostly white dancers pretending to be Asian.

On 12/21/2017 at 9:17 AM, cubanmiamiboy said:

This Pandora's Box is just in its baby steps. Let's keep watching the parade of names to come.

You are very, very right.

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Pandora and her box seem precisely the wrong metaphor here. Pandora makes a foolish mistake and releases evils into the world that can never be put back. The recent spotlight on sexual harassment has been for the most part the tale of women and men coming forward to reveal sexual “misconduct” and in some cases a good deal worse, going on for decades, unreported and unpunished. We can hope that some good will come of this, but we can't count on it:

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That was a quarter-century ago. Today, women at those plants say they have been subjected to many of the same abuses. And like those who complained before them, they say they were mocked, dismissed, threatened and ostracized. One described being called “snitch bitch,” while another was accused of “raping the company.” Many of the men who they say hounded them kept their jobs.

 

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Good point -- I've seen too much swept under too many rugs in the past to assume that this iteration will automatically fix what's broken.  But I do agree that we will see/hear more accusations before this particular wave finishes washing over us.

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Moderator's note:  A lengthy subtopic developed in this thread related to ballets that some may find controversial or unstageable because they reflect dated views of gender and race.  Most of these posts did not refer to the Martins matter at all, and I have moved them to a new thread here in the Aesthetic Issues forum.  Not all could be moved, such as sandik's above, because it refers to the original topic. (However, some  sandik's comments there are quoted in a post in the new thread.)  If you would like to continue commenting on this very relevant topic, please go to the new thread. Thanks!

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Robert Fairchild's interview addresses the Peter issue:

NYTimes interview:

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Is it hard to be away from City Ballet at such a difficult time, with all the allegations that have recently been made about the artistic director, Peter Martins?

It’s really heartbreaking. He was a father figure to me and still is, and I think my generation at City Ballet never saw or can speak to what the company was like 20, 30 years ago. The reality we know is something very different. I can only speak for my own experience. He looked out for me, he told me when I needed to buckle down and work on certain things. I’ll never forget his desire to help me.

 

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19 minutes ago, Drew said:

Update from the New York Times--Martins is retiring: 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/01/arts/dance/peter-martins-resigns-ballet.html?_r=0

 I feel terrible on so many levels.

1. There does seem a split between the Martins of the past an the Martins of the present. 

2. Regardless of what you think of him, he got the company through the post Balanchine years to a place that is (right now) financially secure and has an unheard of depth of talent. It's a terrible way for him to close it out.

3. The company has to find a successor in a hurry. Why would they consider Millepied? That is crazy IMO. I'm worried about the future and the Balanchine legacy. I don't want NYCB to become just another company that's interchangeable with many others.

 

 

 

 

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49 minutes ago, Drew said:

Update from the New York Times--Martins is retiring: 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/01/arts/dance/peter-martins-resigns-ballet.html?_r=0

The comments about Martins from past dancers vs. present reminds me a lot of Bing Crosby's children. Both are probably valid. Crosby was at a different place in his life during his second marriage. I've no doubt that the Martins of the 1980's and 1990's is not the Martins of today. Back then the company was fighting for survival, Peter's attempts at choreography were met with derision, there was much criticism of the quality of performances, and tensions were high. Today the company is financially well-off, the roster is deep in talent at all ranks, and the company is getting great reviews from critics. But wow, what a sudden transition as we start the Winter Season.

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I too am worried about the Balanchine legacy and the company generally. Balanchine is what makes NYCB unique - Balanchine is the company’s identity and brand. Please please no Millepied. That would be a disaster. 

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9 minutes ago, cobweb said:

I too am worried about the Balanchine legacy and the company generally. Balanchine is what makes NYCB unique - Balanchine is the company’s identity and brand. Please please no Millepied. That would be a disaster. 

I kind of hope one person from the interim team takes over. At least we know that they all have good relationships with the existing company and all of them seem to be scrupulous people.

One dancer has made a sort-of statement:

 

Edited by canbelto
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If he's become a better person later in life, but wasn't when he was "saving" the company, does that justify his behavior then?

I don't think so, and I've never been convinced he was the only one who could have run the company well after Balanchine's death.

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1 hour ago, vipa said:

 I feel terrible on so many levels.

1. There does seem a split between the Martins of the past an the Martins of the present. 

2. Regardless of what you think of him, he got the company through the post Balanchine years to a place that is (right now) financially secure and has an unheard of depth of talent. It's a terrible way for him to close it out.

3. The company has to find a successor in a hurry. Why would they consider Millepied? That is crazy IMO. I'm worried about the future and the Balanchine legacy. I don't want NYCB to become just another company that's interchangeable with many others.

 

 

 

 

I feel terrible too.  I agree completely with all you've written, and I hope that the investigation will illuminate your first point 

I'm worried about company morale and about  the Balanchine legacy. As others have commented, some of the names mentioned as successors would preserve the legacy, but for various reasons may not be ideal candidates. 

I fervently hope they don't choose Millepied.

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1 hour ago, vipa said:

 I feel terrible on so many levels.

1. There does seem a split between the Martins of the past an the Martins of the present. 

2. Regardless of what you think of him, he got the company through the post Balanchine years to a place that is (right now) financially secure and has an unheard of depth of talent. It's a terrible way for him to close it out.

3. The company has to find a successor in a hurry. Why would they consider Millepied? That is crazy IMO. I'm worried about the future and the Balanchine legacy. I don't want NYCB to become just another company that's interchangeable with many others.

I honestly think they would do well to stick with the "interim" team for a while.

49 minutes ago, Helene said:

If he's become a better person later in life, but wasn't when he was "saving" the company, does that justify his behavior then?

I don't think so, and I've never been convinced he was the only one who could have run the company well after Balanchine's death.

I don't think it's ever really about being "the only person", but rather being the person who is willing to step up and make it work, somehow. No matter how hostile the environment. Martins did eventually do that. Which brings me back to Millepied - at POB he mostly demonstrated that he didn't have the right attitude, and the willingness to learn new skills and make things work. I'm supportive of his LA Dance Project efforts, but I think making Millepied A.D. of NYCB would be very rash, and very risky given that he's stated publicly that he's bored of ballet.

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This transition might feel abrupt, but I think that NYCB can thrive without Martins. And if the various allegations are true, he needs to go. As others have mentioned, he would have likely departed within the next 10 years regardless.

The company is dancing better than ever, and the Balanchine/Robbins rep is still its beating heart. As long as the new AD understands both of those things, I believe that the City Ballet will remain in good health. Once everything stabilizes, this might be a good opportunity to purge the rep of Martins' bad ballets and refresh some of the stagings (thinking of "Swan Lake" here). And I don't think that Millepied is necessarily a frontrunner (the NYT article seemed to be mostly speculation). My money is on Lourdes Lopez or Peter Boal. 

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5 minutes ago, Pique Arabesque said:

My money is on Lourdes Lopez or Peter Boal. 

Which would be unfortunate for the companies they currently oversee. I'm over the 'one person, one vision' notion, myself (though I understand the clashing ego issues are hard to circumvent with a team), but I'd also like to see a woman as AD.

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The second DUI probably tied it. If Martins can’t refrain from getting behind a wheel while drinking, he’s got another set of problems to deal with. He can take pride in those strong statements of defense from his dancers.

I had always hoped he’d write another book. Far From Denmark is a favorite ballet book of mine.

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10 hours ago, canbelto said:

The comments about Martins from past dancers vs. present reminds me a lot of Bing Crosby's children. Both are probably valid. Crosby was at a different place in his life during his second marriage. I've no doubt that the Martins of the 1980's and 1990's is not the Martins of today.

Or Joan Crawford's children. Christina Crawford wrote her (in)famous book but the two youngest children, Cathy and Cindy, denied Christina's claims.

8 hours ago, dirac said:

The second DUI probably tied it. If Martins can’t refrain from getting behind a wheel while drinking, he’s got another set of problems to deal with.

I agree. The DUI was probably the death blow.

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