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Peter Martins Sexual Harassment Allegations

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31 minutes ago, E Johnson said:

if you read the article it actually says FX found no "new" workplace misconduct. so apparently CK admitted to everything he actually did, at least as far as his work at FX was concerned.  not exactly the same as a situation where nothing has been admitted. 

According to the NYT article, Louis CK admitted that the allegations were true, but they were allegations from the '90's-2005, and Louis CK didn't begin working for FX until 2009.  Their investigation only covered that period from 2009.

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The misconduct of Louis CK occurred between the 1990s adn 2005.  His work with FX started in 2009.  The article says that there was no misconduct during the course of his employment with FX.  That was the subject of the investigation.  FX was not investigating conduct that may have occurred when he worked elsewhere for other employers or entities..

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27 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

 She also had a few dignified,  but choice words about Gelsey Kirkland.

I infer "choice" means negative...so I can't help but mention that Kirkland is in my pantheon of all time great ballerinas. She was also one of the few (only?) ballet dancers in her day to speak with some candor about issues in the ballet world in general and New York City Ballet in particular that were not often, in my experience, spoken of with candor publicly.  I wouldn't expect Watts to have good feelings about Kirkland...and I can't speak about what Kirkland or Watts was like to work with when they were younger (both have generated their share of negative stories including stories they tell 'against' themselves) and I don't doubt Kirkland brought her own problems to the ballet world--problems about which she has also spoken--but looking back at Kirkland's willingness to speak out about aspects of her experiences at New York City Ballet and the criticism, not to say ostracism, she faced for that--my admiration for her tends to grow.

Edited by Drew

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Kirkland wrote very negatively about Watts in "Dancing on My Grave," but I thought Martins came across the worst -- all talk, no action -- in that account, although I didn't think that was Kirkland's intention.  

I was always impressed by Kirkland's candor in that book, and the reaction to the ballet world to it is a textbook definition of backlash.  Villella was the only one I read to defend her in any way at the time, and that was more in a "We should be kind to our broken child, not ostracize her" kind of way.  

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30 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

Sorry,  I don't remember where I first heard the story.  But Watts was very open and entertaining in that interview.  She talked about the dilemma she and other students were in as to whether they should go to class or demonstrate against the war,  and she indicated that Erik Bruhn,  whom she knew primarily as a friend of Martins,  had a crush on her.  She also had a few dignified,  but choice words about Gelsey Kirkland.

Kirstein tells the story, not naming Watts, in his essay "A Ballet Master's Belief."

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5 minutes ago, Drew said:

I infer "choice" means negative...so I can't help but mention that Kirkland is in my pantheon of all time great ballerinas. She was also one of the few (only?) ballet dancers in her day to speak with some candor about issues in the ballet world in general and New York City Ballet in particular that were not often, in my experience, spoken of with candor publicly.  I can't speak about what Kirkland or Watts was like to work with when they were younger (both have generated their share of negative stories including stories they tell 'against' themselves) and I don't doubt Kirkland brought her own problems to the ballet world--problems about which she has also spoken--but looking back at Kirkland's willingness to speak out about her experiences at New York City Ballet  and the criticism, not to say ostracism, she faced for that--my admiration for her tends to grow.

Watts was portrayed quite negatively in Kirkland's book,  on a personal level.  At the interview,  Watts was actually very complimentary about Kirkland as a dancer.  But besides being ballerinas,  these were two young women who were sexually involved with the same man.  The "ballet world" was just the backdrop.  Some of the greatest artists in history,  some of the greatest writers and scientists,  have gotten into feuds and squabbles that are clashes of personality,  not reflections on their work,  for example Mary McCarthy and Lillian Hellman.  It's just human nature.

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13 hours ago, Amy Reusch said:

The AF of M might take issue with that.

 

14 hours ago, aurora said:

AGMA is fundamentally a musicians union (opera really) which expanded over the years to handle dancers. That is not an error.

AGMA  stands for the American Guild of Musical Artists. I haven’t reread Flack’s letter with regard to this comment, but perhaps that clears something up.

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I am aware of what AGMA stands for, however one might derive from your statement that the orchestra musicians for ballet companies would be members of AGMA.

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19 minutes ago, BalanchineFan said:

 

AGMA  stands for the American Guild of Musical Artists. I haven’t reread Flack’s letter with regard to this comment, but perhaps that clears something up.

AGMA is the union for musical artists,  like opera and concert singers.  They have also represented ballet dancers for decades.   Musicians are represented by the American Federation of Musicians.

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20 hours ago, McJagger said:

Has Frankfurt's video interview in Salon been discussed?

https://www.salon.com/2018/01/08/peter-martins-sexual-misconduct-wilhelmina-frankfurt/

I don't believe it has, no, and I think this is the first time she has described his actions in detail, specifically Martins exposing himself to her during a performance, while they were in a dressing room. She refuses to describe another incident. 

In other news, Martins has pleaded not guilty to the DWI charge. Video of him in court:

http://www.lohud.com/videos/news/local/westchester/2018/01/08/video-peter-martins-court-dwi-charge/109285416/

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1 hour ago, Helene said:

Kirkland wrote very negatively about Watts in "Dancing on My Grave," but I thought Martins came across the worst -- all talk, no action -- in that account, although I didn't think that was Kirkland's intention.  

I was always impressed by Kirkland's candor in that book, and the reaction to the ballet world to it is a textbook definition of backlash.  Villella was the only one I read to defend her in any way at the time, and that was more in a "We should be kind to our broken child, not ostracize her" kind of way.  

Is disagreement,  even vehement disagreement,  a "backlash",  or just a difference in opinion?  To me a backlash has to have some teeth in it to meet the definition.  Someone speaking out against an accuser may just be defending themselves.  Kirkland was not fired or barred from the stage because of her book that I am aware of.  (Although she may have lost engagements because of her admitted drug use.  It would be a major liability to a company to put a known cocaine addict on stage.)  She got a 60 Minutes interview and lots of sympathetic articles written about her as I recall.  But no doubt she burned some bridges.

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5 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

To me a backlash has to have some teeth in it to meet the definition

I think being ostracized and vilified by former NYCB colleagues is quite the backlash.  The definition isn't limited to employment to be backlash.  Though given the wide network of Balanchine affiliates -- in the US, the only two medium to major companies that weren't were run/staffed by former Balanchine people were ABT and Houston -- and she went to Europe to dance after ABT. 

Tonya Harding got interviews, too.

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20 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

  Kirkland was not fired or barred from the stage because of her book that I am aware of.  (Although she may have lost engagements because of her admitted drug use.  It would be a major liability to a company to put a known cocaine addict on stage.)  She got a 60 Minutes interview and lots of sympathetic articles written about her as I recall.  But no doubt she burned some bridges.

Her book was published in 1986. She left ABT (for the last time, as a dancer) in 1983. She was able to dance with Royal after the book, but that was short-lived, due to a serious injury, as I remember. So she was already nearing the end of her dancing career by the time the book was published.

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37 minutes ago, Helene said:

I think being ostracized and vilified by former NYCB colleagues is quite the backlash.  The definition isn't limited to employment to be backlash.  Though given the wide network of Balanchine affiliates -- in the US, the only two medium to major companies that weren't were run/staffed by former Balanchine people were ABT and Houston -- and she went to Europe to dance after ABT. 

Tonya Harding got interviews, too.

Tonya Harding was legally barred from any activity having to do with figure skating,  for life.   That to my mind is a backlash with teeth,  and while some people think it was excessive,  many figure skaters have been quite vocal about their disdain for her to this day.    People didn't like what Kirkland said,  but she wasn't arrested for it,  and no court ruled that she couldn't ever dance or teach or coach ballet because she ruffled some feathers.  I don't think she was ever sued civilly either.  There's a whole generation of dancers who are not even aware of what happened with Kirkland,  and likely wouldn't care much if they did know.   (By the way I,  Tonya is a great film.)

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2 hours ago, On Pointe said:

.  There's a whole generation of dancers who are not even aware of what happened with Kirkland,  and likely wouldn't care much if they did know.   

I wonder if they might care more now...but perhaps not, though presumably students at her own academy might be an exception. For myself I don’t know even more generally how interested younger American dancers are in dancers/events of the past. Though I have found when NYCB publishes their publicity videos of dancer X talking about role Y, they do often refer to some past history including past exponents of a role. I am sure no-one at SAB encourages students to read Gelsey Kirkland. 

But I only wrote about my views on Kirkland in the context of this discussion because you mentioned Watts’ ‘choice’ words about her and, for myself,  I think it’s just as well on this thread to remember positive things one could choose to say including the fact that Kirkland is the rare NYCB dancer to have written with candor about aspects of NYCB that others left untouched. If that’s of no interest to people...then it’s of no interest.

Though it probably does not need saying, Kirkland was a genuinely great ballerina across a huge repertory (Theme and Variations AND Giselle, Dances at a Gathering AND Lilac Garden, La Sonnambula AND Juliet)... and her difficulties and people’s reactions to her as a person and to her writing doesn’t change that—nor their lack of interest in her experiences as she writes about them. Though I may think the last is too bad if one is interested in what might be called the ‘pre-history’ of New York City Ballet’s  #metoo moment. She does also seem to be having new success with her academy; its philosophy/staffing, as best I can tell, partly reflects, and in a positive way, her response to some of the experiences she wrote about in her book. Though ballet will always be an insanely tough career.

(Unlike Kirkland in her books, I have profound love for Balanchine’s ballets. Which is, indeed, the main reason I care about New York City Ballet.)

 

Edited by Drew

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3 hours ago, On Pointe said:

Tonya Harding was legally barred from any activity having to do with figure skating,  for life

Not at all true:  Tonya Harding was barred from any US Figure Skating Association activities as a skater or coach.  She was not legally barred from skating on cruise ships, skating in shows -- Stars on Ice, for example -- or competing in non USFS (then USFSA) activities.  She obviously couldn't skate at ISU competitions or the Olympics, since USFS controls the qualifying gate.  

In Harding's case, it was also like Farrell and Mejia not being able to get work after leaving NYCB:  companies that relied upon Balanchine's approval and good-will wouldn't touch them.  Harding was shunned and couldn't get work elsewhere, both by organizers and by pressure from fellow skaters for work for which she was qualified and eligible.

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1 hour ago, Helene said:

Not at all true:  Tonya Harding was barred from any US Figure Skating Association activities as a skater or coach.  She was not legally barred from skating on cruise ships, skating in shows -- Stars on Ice, for example -- or competing in non USFS (then USFSA) activities.  She obviously couldn't skate at ISU competitions or the Olympics, since USFS controls the qualifying gate.  

In Harding's case, it was also like Farrell and Mejia not being able to get work after leaving NYCB:  companies that relied upon Balanchine's approval and good-will wouldn't touch them.  Harding was shunned and couldn't get work elsewhere, both by organizers and by pressure from fellow skaters for work for which she was qualified and eligible.

Helene, I'd be very curious to hear more of what you remember as the reactions among those in the ballet world to Gelsey's book, and the response she received. I wasn't paying attention then and so only know bits and pieces.

And anyone else, too — would love to hear more details.

Edited by nanushka

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10 hours ago, KayDenmark said:

My point was that the definition of "abuse" changes with time. Calling someone a "bastard" in 1945, for example, would have been deeply offensive and abusive; in 2018 it is a relatively mild insult.  Dating a subordinate, or many subordinates,  was not considered abuse in the 1940s and 1950s.  It was common and the way many marriages began.

On another topic, I find it absurd that anyone could make Heather Watts out to be the trembling, demure victim of the towering strongman Peter Martins. Watts was (and is) a strong, loud personality who can give as good as she gets, which is probably why she hasn't been interested in jumping into the discussion about Martins' misdeeds. If we're going to discuss what Martins did to Watts, we need to discuss what Watts did to Martins too. 

A quote from the much-discussed 1992 Los Angeles Times piece:

Both Watts and Martins agree that the word "tempestuous" is exactly right to describe their relationship. Watts says she has never read Kirkland's book and has no recollection of the stairs incident. In an interview, she at first insists that "Peter and I did not have a physically violent relationship." But after a long silence, she adds, "That is not to say that I have not pummeled him in the arm more than once" and that "if I pushed Peter hard enough, if I shrieked and yelled and cried and screamed and caused a scene, and he couldn't take it anymore, he would restrain me."

 

What is socially acceptable changes with time. Just because it was socially acceptable to date a subordinate in the 1940s and 1950s doesn't mean that those relationships weren't coercive or abusive. And I would argue that "bastard" (especially if it refers to a child born to unmarried parents) is still stigmatizing - even if the stigma is not as bad as it was back then. 

And I don't think that anybody believes that Heather Watts is a delicate flower. But her big personality does not excuse any abuse that she experienced. Also, it is not uncommon for victims to rationalize the violence that they experience ("I hit him first so I deserved to get hit back," etc), in order to regain a sense of power in the relationship. And since the Watts/Martins relationship was likely statutory rape from a legal perspective, there was a huge power imbalance at work.

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Well I can only speak for myself in that I disliked Gelsey's book not because I didn't believe most of what she said (I did). I just disliked it because I have a hard time with books in which the narrator has not a single nice word to say about anyone. Not her family, not her colleagues, not anyone. I just found the bitterness too much to take. 

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1 hour ago, Helene said:

Not at all true:  Tonya Harding was barred from any US Figure Skating Association activities as a skater or coach.  She was not legally barred from skating on cruise ships, skating in shows -- Stars on Ice, for example -- or competing in non USFS (then USFSA) activities.  She obviously couldn't skate at ISU competitions or the Olympics, since USFS controls the qualifying gate.  

In Harding's case, it was also like Farrell and Mejia not being able to get work after leaving NYCB:  companies that relied upon Balanchine's approval and good-will wouldn't touch them.  Harding was shunned and couldn't get work elsewhere, both by organizers and by pressure from fellow skaters for work for which she was qualified and eligible.

I should have written that Harding was banned from any figure skating that mattered, to be more accurate.  Unable to skate for a living,  she became a boxer and raced cars.

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1 hour ago, nanushka said:

Helene, I'd be very curious to hear more of what you remember as the reactions among those in the ballet world to Gelsey's book, and the response she received. I wasn't paying attention then and so only know bits and pieces.

Mostly that what she said wasn't at all true:  Balanchine would never give her amphetamines under the guise of giving her vitamins, and he wasn't copping feels in exchange for appliances.  (Which she didn't say he did:  what she said was that as a young dancer coming into the company, that's what she was being told, and she was clearly squigged out by this.)  Also she had no right to be negative about anything Balanchine did or choreographed, she was ungrateful, and how dare she be so ugly and negative.

That was the gist.

48 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

I should have written that Harding was banned from any figure skating that mattered, to be more accurate.  Unable to skate for a living,  she became a boxer and raced cars.

Again, she wasn't:  there was a pro circuit, touring shows, made-for-TV competitions and shows, etc., where the money was, and none of them were run or managed by USFSA.

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1 hour ago, canbelto said:

Well I can only speak for myself in that I disliked Gelsey's book not because I didn't believe most of what she said (I did). I just disliked it because I have a hard time with books in which the narrator has not a single nice word to say about anyone. Not her family, not her colleagues, not anyone. I just found the bitterness too much to take. 

I don't remember every page, though I can say I wasn't comfortable with all that detail about sexual relationships myself (which she did apologize for--that is apologized to Martins and Baryshnikov in an interview in Dance Magazine at least).  But as far as the rest goes, perhaps it's worth noting that Kirkland's second memoir The Shape of Love, published not too long after Dancing on My Grave, describes any number of people and experiences in glowing, positive terms. I remember her as especially eloquent about Anthony Dowell.

I don't imagine she would write either book the same way now, but as long as we are in the #metoo moment, her candor in an earlier era seems to me something valuable and worth remembering. Unless one believes she was SIMPLY delusional and, like you, I don't.

Anyway, I was responding to what I thought was a report of Heather Watts taking a (humanly very understandable) dig at Kirkland, and in that context brought up Kirkland's candor about things that at least a few people seem to want to be candid about now...even if they didn't at the time she published or for some years after.

Oh ... plus what a great ballerina!

Edited by Drew

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3 hours ago, Drew said:

Though it probably does not need saying, Kirkland was a genuinely great ballerina across a huge repertory (Theme and Variations AND Giselle, Dances at a Gathering AND Lilac Garden, La Sonnambula AND Juliet)... and her difficulties and people’s reactions to her as a person and to her writing doesn’t change that—nor their lack of interest in her experiences as she writes about them. Though I may think the last is too bad if one is interested in what might be called the ‘pre-history’ of New York City Ballet’s  #metoo moment. She does also seem to be having new success with her academy; its philosophy/staffing, as best I can tell, partly reflects, and in a positive way, her response to some of the experiences she wrote about in her book. Though ballet will always be an insanely tough career.

(Unlike Kirkland in her books, I have profound love for Balanchine’s ballets. Which is, indeed, the main reason I care about New York City Ballet.)

 

I agree, Drew.  Unfortunately, I never saw her in person, only on TV and now hundreds of times on youtube. She is a great dancer.    I read her book when it was new and again years later.  She  had negative things to say not only about Watts and Martins, but about almost everybody.  She trashed Baryshnikov mercilessly as a person and a partner, and  she criticized sarcastically his dancing in several ballets.  I was shocked at how little she thought of Balanchine's ballets, for which I also have profound love.  The few who escaped her ire included Makarova and Tudor, Ivan Nagy --there may be others.  I read that years after the book was published, she acknowledged that she'd excoriated  Baryshnikov and Martins.  It didn't really sound like an apology.  After she went to the Royal Ballet, her light  seemed to fade. Despite her problems she essentially had a brilliant though truncated career. One just wonders what heights she may have reached.

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40 minutes ago, Drew said:

I don't remember every page, though I can say I wasn't comfortable with all that detail about sexual relationships myself (which she did apologize for--that is apologized to Martins and Baryshnikov in an interview in Dance Magazine at least).  But as far as the rest goes, perhaps it's worth noting that Kirkland's second memoir The Shape of Love, published not too long after Dancing on My Grave, describes any number of people and experiences in glowing, positive terms. I remember her as especially eloquent about Anthony Dowell.

I don't imagine she would write either book the same way now, but as long as we are in the #metoo moment, her candor in an earlier era seems to me something valuable and worth remembering. Unless one believes she was SIMPLY delusional and, like you, I don't.

Anyway, I was responding to what I thought was a report of Heather Watts taking a (humanly very understandable) dig at Kirkland, and in that context brought up Kirkland's candor about things that at least a few people seem to want to be candid about now...even if they didn't at the time she published or for some years after.

Oh ... plus what a great ballerina!

To be clear,  in the interview I attended,  Heather Watts had nothing but good things to say about Kirkland's dancing,  which struck me as very generous at the time.  She didn't have to say anything.   But she did seem to feel that Kirkland was unappreciative of the opportunities she had been given,  that she wasn't very nice,  and that if she disliked Balanchine and NYCB so much,  she should just go perform Giselle for the rest of her career.  She did not go into their personal beef.

I remember the book as a juicy read,  with all kinds of people who had zero interest in ballet buying it for the sexy parts.  At that time,  lots of people thought of female ballet dancers as almost nun-like,  and assumed that all male dancers were gay.  That dancers were just as prone to messy love affairs as anyone else was a revelation.  I don't recall anyone I knew in the dance world being particularly outraged by it.  

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I idolized Gelsey Kirkland like the sun. I read her book on its release and was shocked at how hard she was on herself. I found her self-punishment suffocating, though she had guts to put it out there. I still have both her books and sometimes reread portions when other people comment on the events depicted. She was AMAZING onstage. Best Giselle ever. Best Theme and Variations too. Neither Peter or Heather come off well in the book. Martins and Watts seemed involved with each other to a toxic extent. I remember thinking Gelsey should run in the other direction. I may have yelled it out while reading.

While at NYCB Kirkland had tendinitis which was prolonged partly because she followed Balanchine's edict to wear pointe shoes all the time, including at the barre. All NYCB women still do that, but they have much better physical therapy now.  Merrill Ashley also talked about having tendinitis in the days when the protocol was to self treat with heat, rather than ice. Ugh. These days you can watch videos of current SAB students dunking both feet in buckets of ice water after class or rehearsal. I cut Kirkland a lot of slack after I had plantar fascitis. Pain can really color your experience. My take is that the pain of tendinitis colored her experience with Balanchine. What he recommended really hurt her. Plus she tended to overdo everything. They were not a good match... to the delight of classical ballet fans everywhere. We all would have missed out on her beautiful artistry in classical ballets if she had remained at NYCB.

Edited by BalanchineFan

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