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Chase Johnsey leaves Trocks; Joins ENB


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Most of this is bewildering to me.  I used to know a former Trock, he had a great sense of humour and I always naively imagined that was the primary requirement,

'Drag' has always been popular this side of the pond but has a very different form.  Here's the Irish version. 

 Used to work the other way too.  Vesta Tilley is still remembered as Burlington Bertie and a few years later Marlene Dietrich dressed as a man and kissed a woman in a nightclub before joining the camp followers and following the legionnaires across the desert.

In the end it's all just entertainment.  Isn't it?

 

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Reading between the lines of the original interview,  I get the impression that the real crux of the issue is a power struggle between Johnsey and the artistic management.  His troubles escalated when he began communicating directly with members of the board of directors.  He also suggests that he wanted to take on the director's job himself.  People in power do not give it up without struggle,  even when the stakes are relatively low.  Whether Johnsey was funny enough or masculine enough doesn't appear to be the real issue.

it's fascinating to me that some of the same people who defend Johnsey's appearance and behavior offstage are adamant that NYCB has the right to police what its dancers do in their private life.  

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18 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

Reading between the lines of the original interview,  I get the impression that the real crux of the issue is a power struggle between Johnsey and the artistic management.  His troubles escalated when he began communicating directly with members of the board of directors.  He also suggests that he wanted to take on the director's job himself.  People in power do not give it up without struggle,  even when the stakes are relatively low.  Whether Johnsey was funny enough or masculine enough doesn't appear to be the real issue.

Thanks for the explanation. Johnsey himself certainly doesn't seem to have viewed those factors as being central to his troubles, but your hypothesis doesn't strike me as being out of the realm of possibility. Also, the two explanations — yours and Johnsey's — are of course not mutually exclusive.

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23 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

it's fascinating to me that some of the same people who defend Johnsey's appearance and behavior offstage are adamant that NYCB has the right to police what its dancers do in their private life.  

Because what they did in their private life was illegal. Revenge porn is illegal.

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10 minutes ago, canbelto said:

Because what they did in their private life was illegal. Revenge porn is illegal.

Revenge porn is indeed illegal.  But there was no revenge porn in the Waterbury case.

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1 hour ago, On Pointe said:

it's fascinating to me that some of the same people who defend Johnsey's appearance and behavior offstage are adamant that NYCB has the right to police what its dancers do in their private life.

How Johnsey appears offstage doesn't impact his co-workers.

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I don't doubt that the AD was threatened, especially if Johnsey went straight to the Board.  The adult thing for an AD to do is to address the situation, with the Board and/or Johnsey, and to not renew his contract when the time came.  The adult thing to do, and yes, we have Johnsey's side of the story, was not to retaliate passive-aggressively.  If you want someone to leave, and you are able to do so legally, make them leave/don't invite them back. If the Board won't let you do that, then your problem is your employer, not your employee.

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There is another dancer that recently left the Trocks, Alberto Pretto. On his Facebook and Instagram he went into more detail about the outside expectations that are required of the dancers. Alby as well as some of the other dancers wanted to dress more feminine, leave their hair pretty long, and dress in soft chiffon skirts and more feminine dance attire for classes while on tour. This was forbidden by management for the very reasons outlined above: they want their dancers to be identified as all male, and that includes the image they portray wile on tour. He mentions that he felt it was done more selectively and the same rules didn’t apply to everyone. If anyone is interested, you can go back and watch his videos from around Oct/Nov of 2019 (my dates me be off slightly) to hear more about what management enforced. Alby is now transitioning to female and also talks about the difficulty he has had on that journey and how he misses performing onstage and the relationships with the cast of Trocks. I remember in Chase Johnsey’s videos when he quit he says much the same thing. Alby cites that as the number one reason that he left. If I can find the video, I will post the link. I believe he is listed as Albie Pretti on Facebook. He makes and sells custom leotards, skirts, and tshirts on his Facebook and Instagram site AlbyPretty. He is a friend and I wish him and Chase well. 

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3 hours ago, Helene said:

How Johnsey appears offstage doesn't impact his co-workers.

Chase Finlay's relationship with Alexandra Waterbury did not impact his co-workers.  When they found out about it,  some members of the company were angry and outraged,  but they still went to class,  rehearsed and performed.

According to an article linked on the Trocks website,  their management is hyper-sensitive about how they present offstage because in other countries,  they have been physically attacked for looking gay.  Perhaps that's why they were heavy-handed in their treatment of Johnsey.  This is not much of a concern in other companies.  (I do wonder what Russian ballet fans make of Nikolay Tsiskaridze,  who comes over very gender-nonconforming to me.)

Edited by On Pointe
Spelling and clarity
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8 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

Chase Finlay's relationship with Alexandra Waterbury did not impact his co-workers.

Their little picture and video-sharing ring did, both to the women who had photos shared without knowledge or permission -- if Maxell had to forgive after the fact, there was something to forgive --,=  and enough for some women to go to management to say that impacted them in their workplace.  Management agreed and turned the suspensions into firings for Ramasar and Catazano. 

The arbitrator agreed with the suspensions but ruled against the firings.  While he didn't agree with the harsher penalties, the suspensions for off-hours behavior were considered a contract violation.  As far as we know, no one has come forward to complain that the terms violated were selectively applied.

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56 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

According to an article linked on the Trocks website,  their management is hyper-sensitive about how they present offstage because in other countries,  they have been physically attacked for looking gay.

If it’s not too much trouble could you link to the article? I’m curious to read it and can’t tell which it might be (one of the ones under “News” I’m guessing?).

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25 minutes ago, canbelto said:

Thanks much! Here is the relevant passage:

Quote

“The little thing that I worry about now is that our young gay guys are so comfortable and they don’t realize that when we go to Birmingham in the UK and they’re walking around holding hands…” Dobrin says with a sigh. “Unless you know your environment and you know it’s safe, you really still have to be careful in a lot of places that we go. And a lot of the young gay guys don’t have that DNA. And I’m happy that they don’t have that DNA, but I worry about the caution that is still necessary.”

“Even a few years ago when we were in London, some of the guys smoked,” Dobrin remembers. “They can’t smoke anywhere in the buildings anymore, so they were standing at the stage door, which was on a street, and three of them were attacked, right before the show. So, yeah, it still can happen. So I worry. And I also worry they’ll go out in drag at night after the performance. Some of them do and I say: you gotta be careful.”

Gosa says he hasn’t personally experienced this kind of confrontation. “I have not usually wanted to go out in drag as much as everyone else does. I’ve gone out a few times in drag, and we usually go to a gay bar or something and everyone is pretty excited for us to be there and really enjoying it. So I haven’t really experienced anything threatening or hostile,” he says. But he knows what it’s life to feel the danger of being different. “I grew up a black boy in white suburban America, so I’ve felt uncomfortable. I know that feeling. And I was gay too.” However, he also points out that most of the places they tour tend to be pretty accepting — or else they wouldn’t be booking a drag show.

I don't see anything to suggest this is the reason why management would be concerned about the dancers presenting as insufficiently masculine in their day-to-day lives.

Johnsey doesn't allege that he was harassed and discriminated against (by management) for public displays of affection with other men or for going out in drag. The concerns expressed here sound like they're coming from a very different place from what Johnsey (and now at least one other) has described as his treatment. And certainly this doesn't give any credence to the idea that the Trocks' management has any justifiable interest in how Johnsey acted and dressed in his daily life.

Edited by nanushka
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1 hour ago, Helene said:

Their little picture and video-sharing ring did, both to the women who had photos shared without knowledge or permission -- if Maxell had to forgive after the fact, there was something to forgive --,=  and enough for some women to go to management to say that impacted them in their workplace.  Management agreed and turned the suspensions into firings for Ramasar and Catazano. 

We'll have to agree to disagree I guess.  Even if you believe Ramasar should be censured,   there's no evidence that Catazaro shared photos of company members,  so why was he fired - because certain female colleagues didn't approve?  Straight men overwhelmingly like to look at photos of naked women.  It appears to be hard wired.  One could argue that Catazaro was punished for his gender expression!  

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An arbitrator decided differently.  Had there not have been a workplace violation covered by the contract, he would have thrown out the suspensions and asked the company to make restitution.

I don't remember seeing that porn-watchers were a protected class, and liking to look at pictures of naked women isn't gender-specific.

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7 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

Even if you believe Ramasar should be censured,   there's no evidence that Catazaro shared photos of company members,  so why was he fired - because certain female colleagues didn't approve? 

Have the facts of the case been made public? We know the company suspended them and then fired them; we know the arbitrator ruled the firing was unjust but upheld the suspension. Presumably there’s a reason for the latter, but I don’t believe we know what it is.

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26 minutes ago, nanushka said:

[Edited to add that this is a quote from the article that nanushka was citing]

However, [Gosa] also points out that most of the places they tour tend to be pretty accepting — or else they wouldn’t be booking a drag show.

That is simply not true:  drag shows are allowed and booked in countries where men walking hand-in-hand is illegal.  Plus, saying that "London" is accepting or "New York" is accepting or "Berlin" is accepting is monolithic: men were ambushed and beaten in my old gay neighborhood in Seattle, where there are plenty of drag shows, and gender bending burlesques, and the Trocks have toured here.

9 minutes ago, nanushka said:

Presumably there’s a reason for the latter, but I don’t believe we know what it is.

We know why they were suspended, then fired, because the Company made it public.  We know that the arbitrator was brought in by the union to dispute the firings.  We know that the jurisdiction of the arbitrator is the contract and workplaces rules and conditions.

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22 minutes ago, Helene said:

That is simply not true:  drag shows are allowed and booked in countries where men walking hand-in-hand is illegal.  Plus, saying that "London" is accepting or "New York" is accepting or "Berlin" is accepting is monolithic: men were ambushed and beaten in my old gay neighborhood in Seattle, where there are plenty of drag shows, and gender bending burlesques, and the Trocks have toured here.

Certainly — and just clarifying that I did not write what was quoted.

22 minutes ago, Helene said:

We know why they were suspended, then fired, because the Company made it public.

I didn't recall how specific the company had been in those announcements (i.e. in terms of the details of the conduct they were responding to). I thought I remembered them being at least a little vague, but it's been awhile and I definitely may be wrong on that.

Edited by nanushka
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3 hours ago, Helene said:

I don't remember seeing that porn-watchers were a protected class, and liking to look at pictures of naked women isn't gender-specific.

There is no evidence that Catazaro was a "porn-watcher",  but even porn watchers have a right to privacy.  Watching porn may be frowned upon by some,  but it's legal.

Liking to look at pictures of naked women may not be gender specific,  but many studies have indicated that men are far more aroused by visual images than women.  Of course confirmation bias could be affecting their conclusions - plenty of women seem to like pictures of naked men.

Edited by On Pointe
Further thought.
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It was up to the people who shared the photos to make sure they were secret, including technologically.  Finlay breached that through his own stupidity, but his friends put themselves at risk by partaking.

 

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15 hours ago, On Pointe said:

(I do wonder what Russian ballet fans make of Nikolay Tsiskaridze,  who comes over very gender-nonconforming to me.)

Perhaps to you, but not to anyone else.

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Well, there was that time Luke Jennings reviewed Tsiskaridze in La Bayadère. 

"Both performances, however, were all but nullified by Nikolai Tsiskaridze's interpretation of Solor, their supposed lover. Heavily mascara-ed beneath a mauve turban, his hands flying to an imaginary string of pearls with every plot turn, he was the least plausible heterosexual hero I've ever seen. 'It's Shirley Bassey!' whispered my companion, as Tsiskaridze fluttered at Zakharova in sisterly exasperation. And it was."

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2007/aug/05/dance

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4 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

Well, there was that time Luke Jennings reviewed Tsiskaridze in La Bayadère. 

"Both performances, however, were all but nullified by Nikolai Tsiskaridze's interpretation of Solor, their supposed lover. Heavily mascara-ed beneath a mauve turban, his hands flying to an imaginary string of pearls with every plot turn, he was the least plausible heterosexual hero I've ever seen. 'It's Shirley Bassey!' whispered my companion, as Tsiskaridze fluttered at Zakharova in sisterly exasperation. And it was."

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2007/aug/05/dance

Yeah....he was not too manly, tbh. 

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Tsiskaridze himself seems quite comfortable with his gender expression.  He even has fun with it,  as in this video where he dances on pointe in a tutu:

 

It just seems at odds with the usual Russian image of ballet masculinity.

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That's a scene from Alexei Ratmansky's The Bright Stream. It's a riff on La Sylphide and is decidedly choreographed from a heterosexual point of view. The absurdity of a married old man pursuing a young ballerina is made obvious when the ballerina's place is taken by her male partner.

How it is danced varies a great deal on the interpreter, how adept that dancer is at pointe work and therefore how "straight" he can play the comedy, and most of all it revels a lot about each interpreter's view of women.

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