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Catazaro Declines NYCB Reinstatement; Ramasar to Rejoin


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What really annoyed me in that NYT article was this: 

"As a dancer, Mr. Ramasar gives even imperiousness a boyish innocence that defangs it, or used to. On Saturday, bounding joyfully in his old manner as if nothing had changed, his technique seemingly in good shape, Mr. Ramasar looked more than a little clueless."

Although he had been one of my favorite dancers, I am really not excited to see Ramasar at SPAC this summer (although I probably won't avoid him either). But it's ridiculous to say that having been cast in the role that he should not have been conveying joy. What is he expected to do on stage that would satisfy this criticism? And I'm also more than a bit tired of this scandal being brought up continually.

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It's such a bizarre article... it's as if Seibert genuinely wants to write a legitimate review of the performance but keeps having to stop himself because he's supposed to be writing a preachy op-ed. 

Transitioning from talking about Huxley... 

"A beautiful dancer who has trouble projecting, he could use some of Mr. Ramasar’s un-self-conscious gusto.

Or that’s the sort of comparison I would usually make. Instead, this article must be about Mr. Ramasar’s homecoming and the response of his fans, their bravos and standing ovations. Those who were disturbed or disgusted — I spoke with some afterward — were quiet or drowned out or absent."

Edited by JuliaJ
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15 minutes ago, FPF said:

And I'm also more than a bit tired of this scandal being brought up continually.

While I think the article has some definite oddities of logic, style, tone, etc., I don’t find its very existence to be unjustified. The return of a much-loved NYCB principal, in the current cultural context, in the given circumstances, seems newsworthy to me.

Edited by nanushka
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I don't find its existence necessarily unjustified. But these stories (very one-sided and lacking in nuance IMO) have dominated coverage on NYCB in the Times lately with little positive -- or even neutral -- coverage to balance it out. 

I like Macauley's post from earlier today:

 

Edited by JuliaJ
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I feel like there is a subtext in this article, but also in the general conversation about this situation, of unspoken, not-wanting-to-be-spoken, and/or “don’t you dare call me homophobic” homophobia.  When I read about Ramasar’s “gusto,” or “machismo,” contrasted with Huxley’s reaction to a fall, I am left feeling like the community is still struggling with tremendous ambivalence about moving past traditional norms of gender.  I just finished Michael Langlois’s book, and was struck by his description of the importance of gender-normative attitudes in a business that is decidedly queer.  This “team Ramasar,” like the “team Martins” divide can feel like a pretty homophobic trope.

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20 minutes ago, JuliaJ said:

I don't find its existence necessarily unjustified. But these stories (very one-sided and lacking in nuance IMO) have dominated coverage on NYCB in the Times lately with little positive -- or even neutral -- coverage to balance it out. 

I like Macauley's post from earlier today:

 

As someone who himself was accused of inappropriate behavior (by his account absolutely wrongly so) Macaulay might be said to bring his own history into account when thinking of this scandal.

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"The most notorious ballet scandal of our time"?  (That's from Macaulay's Instagram)....I think the palm still goes to someone throwing acid in the face of the then director of the Bolshoi Ballet, Sergei Filin.

Edited by Drew
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1 hour ago, JuliaJ said:

I find it ironic and troubling that the person whose photos Ramasar DID share is mostly left out of these conversations. The NYT loves to talk about the women in the company are supposedly “shocked” by his return; the paper chooses not to acknowledge that plenty of company members are probably pleased to have him back – including his girlfriend, who has every right to forgive him if she wants to! And this line about Mearns just wreaks of judgement: “And yet there was Ms. Mearns, one of City Ballet’s biggest stars, a woman who once dated Mr. Ramasar, there by his side, seeming, at least implicitly, to endorse him.” I love the Times but I’m getting so, so sick of these extremely one-sided, moralistic, agenda-driven articles in the dance section.

 

Well really,  what did Seibert expect Sara Mearns to do - bitch slap Ramasar during the curtain call?  She may have been troubled by his return,  delighted by it or not have cared much one way or the other.  She is a professional and carried herself as one.  (Mentioning her previous relationship with Ramasar was pretty tacky on Seibert's part,  particularly in light of her recent marriage.)

The symphony musicians who were recently fired are accused of physical sexual assaults on multiple colleagues.  Why are there no hand-wringing articles regarding the toxic environment of symphony orchestras and the musicians' behavior,   in the NY Times or any other major media?  It could be the infantilization of ballet dancers as opposed to other artists.  I can't think of any other profession where highly-accomplished  adults are routinely referred to as "girls" and "boys". 

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51 minutes ago, JuliaJ said:

I don't find its existence necessarily unjustified. But these stories (very one-sided and lacking in nuance IMO) have dominated coverage on NYCB in the Times lately with little positive -- or even neutral -- coverage to balance it out. 

Yes, this is exactly what I meant.

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1 hour ago, KikiRVA said:

I feel like there is a subtext in this article, but also in the general conversation about this situation, of unspoken, not-wanting-to-be-spoken, and/or “don’t you dare call me homophobic” homophobia.  When I read about Ramasar’s “gusto,” or “machismo,” contrasted with Huxley’s reaction to a fall, I am left feeling like the community is still struggling with tremendous ambivalence about moving past traditional norms of gender.  I just finished Michael Langlois’s book, and was struck by his description of the importance of gender-normative attitudes in a business that is decidedly queer.  This “team Ramasar,” like the “team Martins” divide can feel like a pretty homophobic trope.

Good comment. And Seibert goes on to say that Huxley "could use some of Mr. Ramasar’s un-self-conscious gusto."

Macaulay should have gracefully ended his Instagram comment with "... how much the directorship welcomes him back." His use of the words "stridently" and "irredeemably" is disrespectful to those made uncomfortable by the situation.

1 hour ago, nanushka said:

Completely agree that some balance in the form of thoughtful, incisive, keen-eyed dance criticism/reviewing would be very welcome.

Have enjoyed reading Marina Harss's reviews at Dance Tabs and the Danceviewtimes City Ballet reviewers. But the day of the long thoughtful review seem to be over. (Or else I can't seem to find my way to them as easily as I used to.)

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7 hours ago, Quiggin said:

Macaulay should have gracefully ended his Instagram comment with "... how much the directorship welcomes him back." His use of the words "stridently" and "irredeemably" is disrespectful to those made uncomfortable by the situation.

Yeah, that made me wince a bit. Why not go all the way and just call Ashley Bouder "shrill"?

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Siebert in his "review"  makes an incorrect assumption that Mearns  or whoever agrees to dance with Ramasar approves of or forgives Ramasar because she is dancing with him.  The only person who was legally entitled to pass judgment was the arbitrator, and the arbitrator's decision is the law of  the case.  It is not up to individual dancers, Stafford or Siebert to decide whether Ramasar should be "let off the hook" because there is only one person who was judge and jury, and he has rendered his decision. Mearns and other ballerinas who dance with Ramasar are doing their jobs, and abiding by the decision of the arbitrator.  Being his partner should not be equated with any implicit or tacit approval of Ramasar's conduct. Given how little space the Times gives to ballet reviews these days (two weeks of Sleeping Beauty shows, zero reviews), it is unfortunate that the paper decided to use the space allotment to pass judgment rather than to review  performances.

The public will vote with their dollars as to whether to accept Ramasar with open arms.  However, his employer and colleagues must abide by the law.

Edited by abatt
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30 minutes ago, abatt said:

Siebert in his "review"  makes an incorrect assumption that Mearns  or whoever agrees to dance with Ramasar approves of or forgives Ramasar because she is dancing with him.  The only person who was legally entitled to pass judgment was the arbitrator, and the arbitrator's decision is the law of  the case.  It is not up to individual dancers, Stafford or Siebert to decide whether Ramasar should be "let off the hook" because there is only one person who was judge and jury, and he has rendered his decision. Mearns and other ballerinas who dance with Ramasar are doing their jobs, and abiding by the decision of the arbitrator.  Being his partner should not be equated with any implicit or tacit approval of Ramasar's conduct. Given how little space the Times gives to ballet reviews these days (two weeks of Sleeping Beauty shows, zero reviews), it is unfortunate that the paper decided to use the space allotment to pass judgment rather than to review  performances.

I so agree. Insightful reviews and thoughts about the new leadership (without a rehash of the Peter Martins situation) would be so welcome. I will assume that Ramasar and his colleagues are behaving with professionalism in company class and rehearsals, just as they did before his departure.

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3 hours ago, abatt said:

Being his partner should not be equated with any implicit or tacit approval of Ramasar's conduct. Given how little space the Times gives to ballet reviews these days (two weeks of Sleeping Beauty shows, zero reviews), it is unfortunate that the paper decided to use the space allotment to pass judgment rather than to review  performances.

Totally agree. I'm not sure how Mearns was supposed to dance in order not to "implicitly endorse" the partner she was assigned to dance with, nor can I imagine how Ramasar could convey contrition through his dancing. Even if they had managed to convey these sentiments, I don't think it would be a very fun performance to watch. And I could not agree more about more reviews and insightful dance writing. 

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(Mentioning her previous relationship with Ramasar was pretty tacky on Seibert's part,  particularly in light of her recent marriage.)

I tend to agree. The implication appears to be that Mearns’ willingness to perform with Ramasar has something to do with their status as ex-lovers. I have no idea what that's doing in a review of the performance.

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Well, I'm not sure we can know if, from a PR point of view, that it did simply backfire--it may have helped prevent some donors and audience members from walking away in disgust at that point and it sent out the message to the company's audience and to its dancers that the company was/is prepared to take the issues raised by the case seriously.

 

Fair enough, and I actually had thoughts along those lines after I’d posted. The expedient thing to do was sack them all pronto and cut off the noise, and even if the company was found to be in the wrong later on it was a risk worth taking - they would have only to honor contracts, not pay off the former employees. Good thing Ramasar and Catazaro had a union to argue for them.

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4 hours ago, abatt said:

Siebert in his "review"...

 

9 minutes ago, dirac said:

I have no idea what that's doing in a review of the performance.

I share many of the concerns with and criticisms of the piece, but just to be completely fair to Seibert, the article was not presented as a "review," but rather as a "Critic's Notebook," which is typically a more topical/reflective piece in the Arts section. We don't really know what degree of autonomy Seibert had in deciding what to write about; he may have been told by his editor that he had to write a piece about Ramasar's return and included the bits that were more reminiscent of a review on his own initiative.

ETA: This is not to say that his comment about Mearns' relationship with Ramasar — or any other particular comment — belonged in such a piece. Just to say that it perhaps shouldn't be blamed for not being more of a conventional "review."

Edited by nanushka
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A new affidavit has been filed in the Waterbury case, a statement by "former young patron Winston Nguyen." I found this bit interesting...

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To my knowledge, while Peter Martins was Ballet Master in Chief, young dancers were encouraged to attend Young Patrons Circle events, where alcohol was served, and NYCB knew that many of these dancers were underage. In addition, NYCB created an expectation that their dancers should cater to and follow the lead of the patrons they met at these events. The promotional video for Young Patrons, which can be found on youtube.com strongly suggests that membership in the Young Patrons Circle could lead to a sexual relationship with a young female NYCB dancer.

...so I looked up the video in question. I believe it must be this one, featuring Megan LeCrone:

I'm not sure I agree with Nguyen's interpretation, but given all that's been going on at NYCB, it seems unwise to keep this out there.

Edited by nanushka
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1 hour ago, nanushka said:

A new affidavit has been filed in the Waterbury case, a statement by "former young patron Winston Nguyen." I found this bit interesting...

...so I looked up the video in question. I believe it must be this one, featuring Megan LeCrone:

I'm not sure I agree with Nguyen's interpretation, but given all that's been going on at NYCB, it seems unwise to keep this out there.

Shades of the Jockey-Club de Paris. That video was never anything but problematic, and yes, it needs to come down. 

The fact that it makes the Young Patrons Circle look like a dating service is bad enough, but the images are so gendered and classist as to be offensive in and of themselves. The message seems to be that we're all just working stiffs, but if you're the right kind of working stiff you can buy access to a ballerina.

ETA: Six years on, that Blackberry is as quaint as the wind-up alarm clock. 

Edited by Kathleen O'Connell
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A lot of new stuff has been filed in the Waterbury case recently.

This Winston Nguyen seems to be quite the character. 

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Nguyen was charged in 2017 for looting $335,000 from an elderly couple who had hired him as a home health aide. He was accused of grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and identity threat, among other charges. Prosecutors said Nguyen wrote himself more than $200,000 in checks from the bank account of Bernard and Florence Stoll and used their credit cards to rack up more than $100,000 worth of transactions.

 

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1 hour ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

Shades of the Jockey-Club de Paris. That video was never anything but problematic, and yes, it needs to come down. 

The fact that it makes the Young Patrons Circle look like a dating service is bad enough, but the images are so gendered and classist as to be offensive in and of themselves. The message seems to be that we're all just working stiffs, but if you're the right kind of working stiff you can buy access to a ballerina.

ETA: Six years on, that Blackberry is as quaint as the wind-up alarm clock. 

Jockey Club, yes.  And an excellent illustration of "male gaze."  Not to mention the disconnect -- once we get to the theater, he's going out for relaxation, but she's going to work.  I did find some of the visual checks to be interesting (typing and bourees, stretching and stretching), but the overall message of the video is pretty sketchy.

Edited by sandik
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1 hour ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

Shades of the Jockey-Club de Paris. That video was never anything but problematic, and yes, it needs to come down. 

 

 

10 minutes ago, sandik said:

Jockey Club, yes.  And an excellent illustration of "male gaze."

Which Degas faithfully recorded. Link from Robert Herbert's Impressionism which treats the movement as documentary footage for a sociological interpretation.

"The lives of Morny and Halevy … are very rewarding for the study of Degas’s own role as a backstage at the opera. The artist’s devotion to the dancers at the opera cannot readily be understood unless we examine the roles of powerful men."

Suite of backstage monotypes begins on page 107 –

https://books.google.com/books?id=p93wb_p4ndgC&pg=PA169&lpg=PA169&dq=degas+jockey+club&source=bl&ots=GjmyZVbhkI&sig=ACfU3U1Bm3hk0ogs0rmF0k_gUhOEsJ43PQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwit1LCu8K_jAhWDBc0KHaFXAckQ6AEwEXoECAkQAQ#v=snippet&q=jockey club&f=false

 

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