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Peter Martins Sexual Harassment Allegations

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The paraphase of Lissner's half of the conversation, which was filmed, is I'll take the dissatisfaction and badmouthing that you've been expressing to everyone but me as a resignation, and, yes, I've already lined up your replacement.

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31 minutes ago, Helene said:

The paraphase of Lissner's half of the conversation, which was filmed, is I'll take the dissatisfaction and badmouthing that you've been expressing to everyone but me as a resignation, and, yes, I've already lined up your replacement.

Given what you've written, it sounds to me like Millepied consciously 'set up his own hanging' - but he couldn't quite bring himself to just walk into Lissner's office and say "this isn't working for me". He needed to be pushed. But that's not how things were originally presented to us by the press, or dancers for that matter.

Life didn't just end for Millepied when he left POB (which probably makes some people unhappy). Now he's back to running LA Dance Project and it's going well. 

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19 minutes ago, pherank said:

But that's not how things were originally presented to us by the press, or dancers for that matter.

And they showed the meeting in which his leaving was announced to the dancers in the documentary. 

It's interesting that they went through the quite typical corporate charade when they knew the cameras were rolling.  But maybe they thought that by the time the documentary was aired, it wouldn't matter.

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22 hours ago, yukionna4869 said:

This is my nightmare.

Oh, me, too.  Thank you, yukion4869.

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11 hours ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

With all due respect to the Balanchine-era artists we love and admire, it's time for NYCB to embrace the contributions of a new generation when it selects its next AD*. It's no longer sufficient to have once worked closely with Balanchine. He's been dead for 34 years and a lot has happened to ballet, to dance, to the arts, to the media, to our society, and to the world in the interim. Those artists still have valuable, indeed invaluable, roles to play — as teachers, as mentors, as sources of first-hand knowledge, as touchstones, as keepers of the flame — but running a company isn't necessarily the best way to fulfill them. I say this as an aging Boomer who's delighted, excited, and charmed by the energy and creativity of the generation that's come after mine, and well aware of the things they are alert to, both good and ill, that I am not until they tell me. 

And, with all due respect to the younger, up-and-coming talent we love and admire, that AD has to come on board with a full portfolio of well- tested skills, including both artistic judgment and managerial expertise. Being an emerging choreographer isn't enough; running a pick-up company in the off-season isn't enough. Running a dance program at a university isn't enough. (One might argue that the opening decade or so of Martins' tenure shows what happens when someone is selected on promise rather than achievement, but i digress ...) 

A successful AD needs to be able to present a coherent artistic and organizational vision to the Board and convince them to 1) pay for it and 2) trust that he or she can and will make it happen, especially when there are setbacks. It's not job that can be handed to a novice or even a relative novice, especially given NYCB's financial and organizational scale, its position as one of Lincoln Center's resident companies, and the firepower of its Board and major donors. 

A successful AD needs to be a leader. And although a clear artistic vision is paramount, managerial and organizational savvy is not something that can be dismissed lightly: all one has to do is look at the PA Ballet's various personnel and PR debacles in the Corella era to see what ill can be wrought by an indifference to the niceties of sound leadership. 

Finally, if Martins is relieved of his position for reasons related to harassment or fomenting a hostile work environment or toxic culture, the Board may well elect to look outside the organization for his replacement.

* Even if Martins survives the current firestorm, he is 71 and in the twilight of his NYCB tenure. If we aren't discussing his replacement now, we will be soon enough. 

Kathleen, that is about as eloquent, sound and elegant a statement I've read on this subject and I thank you for it.   

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10 hours ago, Helene said:

Even if Martins had decided to resign on his own without any of the allegations being aired, the only way Kistler would have been considered, IMO, is if they specifically wanted continuity, with the assumption, being that he would be highly influential.  This was one of the big issues at Miami City Ballet, where a former company dancer was viewed as "more of the same" rather than a change from it, whether the person making the judgement was for or against a continuation of the Villella regime.

Now were she to be installed, I think the assumption would be that she was a front-person, with him still pulling the strings from the background.  

I can't see Darci Kistler at all in this equation. 

 

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Just now, KarenAG said:

I can't see Darci Kistler at all in this equation. 

 

I guess because Darci is Martins' wife and because she hasn't, as far as I know, evinced any interest in leading the company.  My comment  is not intended to slight her in any way; I just don't see this as a possibility.  

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7 hours ago, vipa said:

So many great point are being made. You guys are smart! It occurred to me that NYCB has had the Fordham U connection for a while now, and a lot of the dancers availed themselves of the opportunity. There may be former company members who went on to become arts administrators and/or run not-for-profits etc.  Hiring former principal dancers as AD has the benefit of star power and name recognition, but who knows, there could be a former corps member with heavy duty organizational experience and good people skills. 

I think Gwyneth Mueller is at Yale right now for arts administration and was the AGMA rep for NYCB (so must have good people skills). Maybe one day she can come back to NYCB! :)

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I wonder if it would be better to split up the administrative and artistic responsibilities of the AD so the burden isn’t all on one person. Obviously, I don’t know if it’s even possible to disentangle the AD’s responsibilities neatly. 

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25 minutes ago, yukionna4869 said:

I wonder if it would be better to split up the administrative and artistic responsibilities of the AD so the burden isn’t all on one person. Obviously, I don’t know if it’s even possible to disentangle the AD’s responsibilities neatly. 

It really depends upon the company as to how the A.D. position is defined. It's worth mentioning that there a number of important staff members behind the A.D. who "make the impossible possible":
Balanchine wouldn't have gotten anywhere without Kirstein, for example, but behind them both were people like Betty Cage, Morton Baum, Eddie Bigelow and  Barbara Horgan. Martins gets lots of help too. Most A.D.'s are strictly making artistic decisions (thus the title), but their opinion on other matters counts (as long as things are going well with the company).

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3 hours ago, KarenAG said:

I can't see Darci Kistler at all in this equation. 

I agree, KarenAG.  The lady doesn't seem like anyone's puppet, for one thing. I certainly hope we have all gotten beyond the time when a wife was regarded merely as an extension of her husband.  As far as I know, Kistler has indicated no interest in succeeding Martins, so the question is moot, but if such was the "perception,"  even if it was only a "perception," it would be offensive on so many levels I don't know where to start.........  

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11 hours ago, naomikage said:

You can see how Millipied was disliked by the dancers if you see the documentary film "The Paris Opera" which shows how he was dismissed. At the press conference, no one at the conference showed any sympathy for him. Also watching the documentary "Reset" will also give you hints.

Reset does give certain hints in the sense that you can see Millepied running a micro company within the much larger company, which caused a great deal of heartburn within the ranks. Meanwhile, his harried, Eve Arden-ish assistant is running around the Garnier trying to get him to focus on his administrative duties. (Joke: "Have you seen Benjamin?" "Have you tried Facebook?")

11 hours ago, pherank said:

There were so many people unhappy with his selection as A.D. - it was going to be an uphill battle for Millepied in any case. But the fact that he didn't stick around to make it work just made him look selfish and weak to those who had already decided they didn't want to support him.

Whether his vision for the Paris Opera Ballet was ever a realistic one or not is a debatable point. But to achieve that vision, he would have to have settled in for the long haul and achieved change incrementally. Instead, in a short time span, he imposed an alien repertory on the company, fought a pointless battle trying to get rid of the internal competition for promotion (which the dancers rejected), pointlessly carped and complained that the POB school wasn't under his control (when Elisabeth Platel was never going to cede control of it to him in any event) and made a number of tactless comments about the company's performing style, including the infamous line that watching the company was like watching wallpaper.

All of which suggests that maybe Benjamin Millepied's virtues aren't meant for a large institution with entrenched ways of doing things. 

 

 

Edited by miliosr

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9 hours ago, dirac said:

As far as I know, Kistler has indicated no interest in succeeding Martins, so the question is moot, but if such was the "perception,"  even if it was only a "perception," it would be offensive on so many levels I don't know where to start.........  

I don't think it is offensive at all to perceive that Kistler would have loyalty to her boss/husband and the way he ran things any more than it is offensive to believe that the dancer close (artistically) to Villella would be committed to running Miami City Ballet the way Villella had.   The way people predict what any new AD or CEO for that matter will do is based on their background, training, loyalties, track record, and how the organization was managed by the people who mentored and coached them.

When people want more of the same, they choose people who are like the people who replaced them.  When they want to go in a new direction, the people who are associated with the people being replaced are bypassed.  Kistler's association with her husband simply happens to be well-known in a way that, often, the general public has no idea about these relationships.

 

 

3 hours ago, miliosr said:

Whether his vision for the Paris Opera Ballet was ever a realistic one or not is a debatable point. But to achieve that vision, he would have to have settled in for the long haul and achieved change incrementally. Instead, in a short time span, he imposed an alien repertory on the company, fought a pointless battle trying to get rid of the internal competition for promotion (which the dancers rejected), pointlessly carped and complained that the POB school wasn't under his control (when Elisabeth Platel was never going to cede control of it to him in any event) and made a number of tactless comments about the company's performing style, including the infamous line that watching the company was like watching wallpaper.

All of which suggests that maybe Benjamin Millepied's virtues aren't meant for a large institution with entrenched ways of doing things. 

First, Millipied by no means imposed an alien repertory on the company.  I've been doing the Ballet Alert! calendar for close to a decade now, and there are already essentially two companies within POB:  the classical/neoclassical rep and dancers and the modern/contemporary rep and dancers.  Nothing Millipied brought in was any farther out than what Lefevre commissioned and programmed.  A split among dancers and and two companies with the company has been there for years: Millipied tried to create a different kind, just as Robbins created a different kind at NYCB before and after he became Co-Ballet-Master-in-Chief.

As for fighting a battle to get rid of the internal competition for promotion, that is the way every other large (and small) institution other than the POB does it:  the Artistic Director makes those decisions.  (And even at POB, promotion to "Etoile" is not done via internal competition:  it is a nomination by the head of Paris Opera, with the input of the head of the ballet.)  As for expecting the school to be under his control, that is what he saw at New York City Ballet.

While this might suggest that Millipied's virtues weren't meant for Paris Opera Ballet, it doesn't mean that they aren't meant for New York City Ballet.  His virtues and weaknesses with regard to that large institution with entrenched ways of doing things is a different discussion.

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I don't think it is offensive at all to perceive that Kistler would have loyalty to her boss/husband and the way he ran things any more than it is offensive to believe that the dancer close (artistically) to Villella would be committed to running Miami City Ballet the way Villella had.   The way people predict what any new AD or CEO for that matter will do is based on their background, training, loyalties, track record, and how the organization was managed by the people who mentored and coached them.

When people want more of the same, they choose people who are like the people who replaced them.  When they want to go in a new direction, the people who are associated with the people being replaced are bypassed.  Kistler's association with her husband simply happens to be well-known in a way that, often, the general public has no idea about these relationships.

If all of the foregoing were so, that still wouldn't make Kistler a "front-person" with Martins "pulling strings." However, I can also see Kistler balancing personal loyalty to her husband with what might be very different ideas on running the company.  My point is that jumping to such conclusions on the basis of a woman's status as wife is....not ideal. The Miami analogy doesn't seem quite the same to me, although even there it would not be fair to any prospective candidate to assume that person is simply the outgoing director's Mini-Me unless there is already reason to believe it is so apart from the mere fact that X is close to Y. I would think the best way to predict what the prospective AD or CEO wants to do is to actually ask that person what she wants to do and how she plans to accomplish her goals. (Of course, if you want to take your company in a non-Balanchine direction, then you might not feel the need to do that with a candidate you already know to be steeped in Balanchine.)

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Here is a snippet of the documentary "The Paris Opera" which shows the press conference regarding the resignation of Millepied. (well the conversation on phone with Lissner telling Millepied to step back is not in this video) French with Japanese subtitles. 

 

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1 hour ago, Helene said:

First, Millipied by no means imposed an alien repertory on the company.

We'll just have to agree to disagree on this point.

1 hour ago, Helene said:

As for fighting a battle to get rid of the internal competition for promotion, that is the way every other large (and small) institution other than the POB does it:  the Artistic Director makes those decisions.  (And even at POB, promotion to "Etoile" is not done via internal competition:  it is a nomination by the head of Paris Opera, with the input of the head of the ballet.)  As for expecting the school to be under his control, that is what he saw at New York City Ballet.

The point I was making in my original post was that Millepied frittered away energy on fights that he wasn't going to win. Control of the school and the competition were known quantities before he took the job. In the long New Yorker profile that followed Millepied's appointment, Peter Martins (!) even warned him about taking the job at the POB for precisely these kinds of reasons. He must have correctly perceived that Millepied's desire to have change and to achieve it right away would be problematic. All of which takes me back as to why Millepied was hired in the first place.

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4 minutes ago, miliosr said:

We'll just have to agree to disagree on this point.

I'd be interested in hearing your analysis of the rep before and after.

4 minutes ago, miliosr said:

All of which takes me back as to why Millepied was hired in the first place.

It's unlikely that Millipied gave the stock institutional answers, and he neither wrested power nor was the choice of the founder of the company.  POB made a decision that, presumably, was meant to further the agenda the hirers had for the company.  He, for one, brought in money from the outside when government money has been, at best, stagnant.  (Whether that has continued, I haven't heard.)

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1 hour ago, dirac said:

If all of the foregoing were so, that still wouldn't make Kistler a "front-person" with Martins "pulling strings."

Part two of that is the legitimate concern that the old boss would have undue influence on the new boss, regardless of gender and whether there is a romantic, family, or mentee/muse relationship. 

I've been in companies where instead of "Buzzword Bingo," the game was to predict what the new boss would say and decide, and often the exact wording, based on what the old boss had said, decided, and the exact wording they used (and not simply standard organization speak -- that was another game).  There was much (after work) drinking involved.

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Wasn't part of the issue with Millepied his attempts to confront the POB's racist policies around dancers of color, specifically black dancers?

Edited by balletforme

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11 minutes ago, California said:

and we now have a named accuser, former NYCB soloist Kelly Cass Boal, wife of Peter Boal.  

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"no where to go, no protection"?  The police perhaps?  And why was this charactized as sexual assault when the description suggests otherwise?  So many questions...

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There's a comma between "sexual" and "violence," which means two different modifiers of "allegations.".  The "sexual" allegations were written about in the earlier WaPo article.

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