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An article by Luke Jennings in the London Review of Books


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Yes probably not the thread for it but I have a feeling no thread will really be appropriate here as there are contentious issues around this I’m not sure but think another thread around this was locked in the end. 
The article is indeed rather damning about the RB and the School too but I really hope the RB are not going to “ban” or should I say “withhold” his works indefinitely. Hoping this is just a temporary situation for obvious reasons.  I love Asphodel Meadows and Symphonic Dances at least. 
After all look at the life of Mozart!! A good job though that nobody decided to burn all his music because he was a very much less than perfect human being! 
Sometimes some people can only truly express their particular wonderful ness through their work. 

Edited by LinMM
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2 hours ago, oncnp said:

 

Didn't know where else to put it - move by all means to more appropriate place, 

 

new thread in 'Discussions' forum I would have thought.

Mind you, not sure about discussing it myself, as we are pretty much in the dark about the whole issue (which leads us to guesses, supposition, wild claims, etc)

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17 minutes ago, zxDaveM said:

 

new thread in 'Discussions' forum I would have thought.

Mind you, not sure about discussing it myself, as we are pretty much in the dark about the whole issue (which leads us to guesses, supposition, wild claims, etc)

We are only competent to discuss the article as highlighted by oncnp, since the majority of us will have no knowledge of activities within the confines of secret societies and no one appears to be suggesting more.. 

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It was a very interesting piece, but suffers hugely IMO from relying on anonymous sources who might be considered to have an axe to grind. I don't think anyone's going to take this stuff seriously (and part of me thinks, "why should they?") until people are prepared to go on the record.

 

By far the best bit, I thought, was the passage about Scarlett's career and O'Hare's possibly overly hands-off approach to choreographers - something I've seen discussed here a couple of times.

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27 minutes ago, Lizbie1 said:

It was a very interesting piece, but suffers hugely IMO from relying on anonymous sources who might be considered to have an axe to grind. I don't think anyone's going to take this stuff seriously (and part of me thinks, "why should they?") until people are prepared to go on the record.

 

By far the best bit, I thought, was the passage about Scarlett's career and O'Hare's possibly overly hands-off approach to choreographers - something I've seen discussed here a couple of times.

A valid observation, it says that 'all of the many people interviewed for this piece asked to remain anonymous. It may be human nature, but I find myself seeking out and hoping for reports by anyone which would contradict these so called statements and I cant find any.  I always believe it is necessary to defend allegations and that an umbrella of secrecy indicates to observers that there is something to hide or a belief of being above reproach. 

The allegations here are certainly of a serious nature, which only indifference would cause them to be disregarded.

Can there be smoke without fire, who knows ?

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5 minutes ago, Stevie said:

A valid observation, it says that 'all of the many people interviewed for this piece asked to remain anonymous. It may be human nature, but I find myself seeking out and hoping for reports by anyone which would contradict these so called statements and I cant find any.  I always believe it is necessary to defend allegations and that an umbrella of secrecy indicates to observers that there is something to hide or a belief of being above reproach. 

The allegations here are certainly of a serious nature, which only indifference would cause them to be disregarded.

Can there be smoke without fire, who knows ?

 

I think the piece would be stronger if there'd been a more visible attempt to build the case for the other side.

 

It seems likely there is something to these allegations, but as for there being no smoke without fire: the Met Police's Operation Midland has rather discredited that saying (not that I think the cases are comparable).

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39 minutes ago, Geoff said:

This long article - just published by the LRB - is likely to provoke comment and so perhaps deserves its own thread:

 

https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v43/n18/luke-jennings/learned-behaviour

 

Geoff, in case you’re wondering why your thread starter has moved down to mid-topic, it’s because the article was already being discussed in a pre-existing thread, so I’ve moved all the relevant posts here into your (much more appropriate) thread.

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1 hour ago, Lizbie1 said:

It was a very interesting piece, but suffers hugely IMO from relying on anonymous sources who might be considered to have an axe to grind. I don't think anyone's going to take this stuff seriously (and part of me thinks, "why should they?") until people are prepared to go on the record.

…something I suspect will never happen while the ballet world is so small, while casting still relies heavily on “playing the game”, and how decades of training (not to mention thousands of pounds) can go down the drain if a young dancer comes forward with allegations of abusive behaviour.  The fear of being disbelieved, of word getting around that you are a “troublemaker”, of never getting a company contract (or losing an existing contract) is why stories of bullying and worse are still coming out about staff in schools and companies all over the UK.   

 

I’m not in the least bit surprised that the young people who spoke to Luke Jennings wish to remain anonymous.  

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3 minutes ago, Anna C said:

…something I suspect will never happen while the ballet world is so small, while casting still relies heavily on “playing the game”, and how decades of training (not to mention thousands of pounds) can go down the drain if a young dancer comes forward with allegations of abusive behaviour.  The fear of being disbelieved, of word getting around that you are a “troublemaker”, of never getting a company contract (or losing an existing contract) is why bullying and worse still goes on in schools and companies all over the UK.   

 

I’m not in the least bit surprised that the young people who spoke to Luke Jennings wish to remain anonymous.  

 

I get all that - but what about the older people, or young people who've left ballet?

 

Edited to add: I'm not looking to discredit these people and I'm very inclined to believe them, but it's frustrating to see nothing happening because nobody will come forward publicly or name names. As it is, all we are really left with is the Liam Scarlett case (and he's no longer with us) and an Ofsted report from 25 years ago.

Edited by Lizbie1
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2 minutes ago, Lizbie1 said:

 

I get all that - but what about the older people, or young people who've left ballet?

 

Threats of legal action? Trolling/doxxing on social media? I remember some of the comments under ITV’s thread about the investigation of abuse at a Scottish Ballet school - people not only defending the accused but smearing the alleged victims in awful ways.  Not everyone is strong enough to tolerate victim blaming.

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1 minute ago, Anna C said:

 

Threats of legal action? Trolling/doxxing on social media? I remember some of the comments under ITV’s thread about the investigation of abuse at a Scottish Ballet school - people not only defending the accused but smearing the alleged victims in awful ways.  Not everyone is strong enough to tolerate victim blaming.

 

But does legal action apply if there are no individuals being cited? I suppose the school or company could threaten it but I don't really see that happening as it would be very bad publicity, worse than if these claims were disseminated and believed widely.

 

I agree not everyone will be strong enough, but some brave people in other walks of life seem to manage it.

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Well, say you were threatened with legal action just for speaking out about what happened behind closed doors, and you had neither the resources or the strength necessary to fight the threat?  There’s no bad publicity if you’re not even allowed to be open about the threat of legal action, let alone what you were trying to speak out about. 

 

I remember a whistleblower who lost his job - and with it, his family’s security - for speaking the truth about goings on in one of the UK’s Police Forces.  His mental health suffered greatly and he was in his mid to late 30s, if I remember rightly.

 

The ballet world is already tough (and at times, toxic) enough to take a huge toll and have lasting effects on so many dancers - long after they’ve stopped training or performing.  It’s hard enough to come forward on the rare occasion that things come to trial, let alone when powerful organisations have the means to brush things under the carpet. 

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1 hour ago, Lizbie1 said:

 

I think the piece would be stronger if there'd been a more visible attempt to build the case for the other side.

 

It seems likely there is something to these allegations, but as for there being no smoke without fire: the Met Police's Operation Midland has rather discredited that saying (not that I think the cases are comparable).

Yes very different, that case about people with criminal records trying to discredit many individuals who are in the in the public eye. Don't believe that Luke Jennings would be ranked with those.

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8 hours ago, LinMM said:

After all look at the life of Mozart!!

 

I'm not sure that we can compare Mozart's bad language (and it was terribly bad) to what Liam Scarlett allegedly did to young people. Or that we could compare Mozart's rank as a composer to that of Liam Scarlett as choreographer (whose works I would also keep in the repertory, no question). I'm sorry to weigh in with this, but somehow I felt compelled to defend Wolfgang Amadeus...

 

 

2 hours ago, Anna C said:

people not only defending the accused but smearing the alleged victims in awful ways.  Not everyone is strong enough to tolerate victim blaming.

 

Just look what happened with the US gymnasts, Simone Biles and others, who testified against that pedophile doctor and the entire system betrayed them, their organisation and the FBI.

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I’m glad that this forum chose to keep this topic alive & not bury it. That said, the behaviors described in Jennings’ article are disgusting. They makes me feel like 🤮.  

 

Not blaming individuals. Not blaming any one institution or country. Enough said.

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A disturbing article on every level. It would, I agree, be reassuring to have some examples of contradiction or renunciation weighed against the claims put forward in the article. Do they exist? If so, why are they not exhibited? If not, the situation is very serious indeed. 

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I seem to remember studying a book for A level admittedly a very long time ago now called “ Mozart auf der Reise Nach Prague”

I can’t remember who wrote it now but I’m sure he took advantage of a few young ladies of marriageable age ....I think people generally seem to marry younger then ...so don’t know how out of the norm he was for his time....some would say ahead of his time no doubt!! 

I really love Mozart’s music but that doesn’t mean he was necessarily that likeable as a human being!
It wasn't a straight comparison though. 

I brought that up because of what seems to be a shunning  of Scarletts  work and hope this will only last for the current generation of dancers who may not want to dance in his ballets....but I don’t know this of course. 
 

 

Edited by LinMM
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I feel that the article is somewhat undermined by being turned into a wholesale attack by Luke Jennings on the Royal Ballet and its history and ethos: it's hierarchical and therefore abusive, traditional and therefore unwilling to change, highly selective and therefore cruel, etc. That's not to say that there is no truth in the allegations, which are very serious. But I'm not sure how organisations (or individuals) can really address anonymous allegations raised in this way. And if people don't feel able to use independent safeguarding arrangements that's very worrying.

Edited by bridiem
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The whole story is a tragedy, and a talented young man died as a result. At the time, when I included the observation in a post on this board, that such behaviour was usually the result of the perpetrator having suffered as a victim when younger, my post was removed.  There remain many unanswered questions. 

However I was pleased to see that at the Athelhampton performance Liam Scarlett's, With a Chance of Rain was danced by Laura Morera and Matthew Ball. "Danced by kind permission of Debbie Scarlett - in memory of Liam. Generously sponsored by Sarah Robson".

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I am pleased to hear that Pas de Quatre. 

Perhaps his works were not performed whilst investigations were ongoing so may now take their place in the repertoire from time to time. 

 

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I have no skin in this game as I know very little about Liam Scarlett and have only seen his work on film.  For as long as I can remember there have been stories about is problems with the RBS, although this is very far from the only school which has had issues.

 

However, my main point is I found the article unbelievably sad.  I make no comment on its veracity or otherwise.

Edited by Two Pigeons
Wrong word
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On 16/09/2021 at 20:41, Scheherezade said:

A disturbing article on every level. It would, I agree, be reassuring to have some examples of contradiction or renunciation weighed against the claims put forward in the article. Do they exist? If so, why are they not exhibited? If not, the situation is very serious indeed. 

Having a dd who left the school 6 years ago all I can say is this article is a very accurate description of what it was like when she was there. We were hoping it had changed but sadly it doesn’t look like it has. Dd was left broken and has had to have professional help and is in a much better place now. I don’t think many people can or will contradict these statements as it’s nothing but the truth in our eyes. 

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4 hours ago, Sim said:

Interesting to have another look at this article in the Guardian, written by Jennings in 2012:

 

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2012/mar/25/will-they-make-royal-ballet

 

 

Very interesting and in some ways it provides a counterpoint to his LRB article.

 

I felt at the time that towards the end of his stint at the Observer Luke Jennings had soured towards ballet - there were certain hobby horses that he was riding a bit too frequently for my liking, though I always valued his reviews and learned a lot from them. I wonder if there's a link between this change of attitude and the different tone of these two articles.

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On 18/09/2021 at 20:14, Glissé said:

Having a dd who left the school 6 years ago all I can say is this article is a very accurate description of what it was like when she was there. We were hoping it had changed but sadly it doesn’t look like it has. Dd was left broken and has had to have professional help and is in a much better place now. I don’t think many people can or will contradict these statements as it’s nothing but the truth in our eyes. 

 

How dreadful, Glissé, for your daughter and all your family. I do hope that she is now much happier and able to move positively towards a bright future.

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