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Young American Ballet Dancer accuses Bolshoi of extortion...


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A heartbreak for sure. Unfortunately, not new news for Russian ballet. She has learned how the game is being played there, and may want to reconsider her options outside of Russia(which I am sure are many). She is very young, and ambitious and much has been written and is expected of her. Time is on her side.

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It certainly is a heartbreak though I would not be too quick to assume her version of events are the only accurate version. Some of the company dancers and staff have spoken up disputing her story and they have every right to our consideration as she does. My old age has taught me that there are always more sides to a story.

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The Moscow News piece was in yesterday's Links.  Ismene Brown had a piece in this morning's Links in which, as has been suggested, others have begun to qualify what we first read:

 

http://www.ismeneb.com/Blog/Entries/2013/11/13_American_dancer_says_Bolshoi_tried_to_extort_%2410%2C000.html

 

The basic story has been picked up globally by papers and sites in the intervening 24 hours.

 

And for Jules, it would appear that she has already accepted a place with another Russian company.

 

There may be a salutary lesson in all this for youngsters (and their parents) going to Russian schools in the hope of securing places in Russian companies. 

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I did read about the marriage of this young woman to some young man and I felt quite terrible for him. I believe the marriage was refered to as a "sham". What I find quite contrary regarding this young lady is that she has such religious tweets and seems to put forth such a devote persona and her actions are suspect at least they are to me. Where are the parents in all of this?

Edited by Lisat
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One has to wonder at the timing, and purpose, of Joy Womack's allegations. If she *has* entered into a 'sham' marriage then that is very distasteful and an indication, I suppose, of her desperation (and probable naïveté) at best, and her ambition at worst. I wonder whether the breaking of this 'story' will have very negative repercussions for her, rather than the reverse, which I imagine she thinks will be the case. It might have been better for her to have been a bit more tight-lipped and moved companies without becoming embroiled in all the controversy about the Bolshoi.

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That's such a shame for her if it's true.

 

It does make me wonder though, especially given the comments from the Bolshoi on her apparent difficulties with learning choreography, whether she was only accepted into the Bolshoi company as a kind of enticement to encourage more foreigners to pay to study at the Bolshoi school.

 

They may be increasingly reliant on income from foreign students and perhaps the acceptance of one of them into the company, even if she wasn't quite up to the ideal standard, would have been quite an effective recruitment tactic.

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I'm not sure I understand the whole thing. I thought that even if you are taken on by the company from the school you usually spend at least a couple of years in the corps first. She has only just graduated so wouldn't be offered a soloist contract straight away I would have thought.

 

It's not beyond the bounds of belief that this could happen though.

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Anyone who has worked in Russia will know that corruption and bribery is common amongst officialdom and there is an expectation in many areas that you pay your way. I think it's plausible that this could extend into ballet companies that were previously under direct state control, particularly if looking to exploit a 'rich' foreigner. Let's face it, the recent goings on at the Bolshoi don't exactly inspire confidence do they?

Edited by Ribbons
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My comment above "it's not beyond the bounds of belief etc" was referring to this possibility of corruption in fact.

(Rather than getting a soloist contract straight from school which I realise that it may look as if its referring to!)

 

So yes I agree. I still think there's a sort of residue belief from iron curtain days there that people from the "west" have loads of money.

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I should qualify that have no direct experience of Russia.....but more Poland....

I have to say that I did meet with this attitude there but that was a while ago now and haven't been back since "iron curtain" days.

 

However Polish friends who were born in UK are expected to take expensive presents to any relatives still there as they see the average person over here as being wealthy compared to them.

 

One really hopes this isn't true after all the other shenanigans that have been going on at the Bolshoi recently but perhaps old habits die hard. She is still very young to be expecting a soloist contract though.

 

Incidentally looking at those New York City Ballet videos recently I was struck by how long some of those company members waited toget a soloist or Principal contract so this aspect of things isn't just a Russian thing!

But perhaps in Russia you can pay to get one more quickly!! I just hope not.

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I'm not sure I understand the whole thing. I thought that even if you are taken on by the company from the school you usually spend at least a couple of years in the corps first. She has only just graduated so wouldn't be offered a soloist contract straight away I would have thought.

 

It's not beyond the bounds of belief that this could happen though.

This young lady is rather naive and very inexperienced to think she'd get a soloist level role within a year of joining a professional company. Just look at how long most Corps dancers at the RB/BRB/ENB remain there before being given a soloist role let alone being made a soloist!

Many dancers remain in the Corps for 5 years if not more before they are promoted to the rank of First Artist and Soloist. 

Her story is a one-sided story and clearly she expected too much too soon.

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If you read Ismene Brown's blog (link under Ian M's post further up), it says that Isvestia (who published Joy's original interview) have seen the soloist contract she was given and so it seems genuine that she was given a soloist contract. However, I guess the issuing of a contract does not necessarily guarantee performances and it seems that she needed a sponsor (or some other means of financial contribution) before being given a role on stage. You would also have to question the motives of the Bolshoi for giving a soloist contract to a new (American) graduate. 

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Thanks for the above links Ribbons they make interesting but rather uncomfortable reading.

 

I suppose if you think the system in the Ballet Company you have chosen is fairish you may be more prepared to wait out some time in the corps......if there is any chance you could move through the ranks so to speak. Although whichever company you are in its hard to wait for roles for posssibly 10 years......injury can rear its ugly head at any point and getting older doesn't make it any easier physically speaking at least.

 

I can understand her desire to want to make her mark with the Bolshoi Company but looks like she has been making some unwise decisions.......(did she discuss things with her large and close knit family?......maybe not) which she probably now regrets......who hasn't got some regrets from some teenage decisions!!

 

However, if as she says she just wants to be a ballerina, then perhaps she should just find another Company which may allow her to achieve her ambitions.....if she is good enough......without any strings attached.

 

She may have tried to use the system a bit but then it appears the system may be using her just as much.

 

I say and especially just at the moment with all thats going on with BOTH the Major ballet companies in Russia she is best out of it altogether.

But if there is this.....and other corruption going on there....then she is extremely brave to expose it whilst still remaining in Russia.

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I have met and talked to Joy on a few occasions and my view of her was of how focused and driven she is which was very commendable. However she is far from nieve. She has many strings to her bow has been modelling for Grishko etc. She is also very savvy with the media and has used it very well. Her father it seems works very hard to promote his daughter. It really is admirable for her to have achieved so much at such a young age but I would wait for the full story to emerge before judgements are made. I will also add that no foreign student could ever pay their way into the school or company without the talent to match it. If this was true the Russian companies would be filled with foreign dancers. Foreign dancers in these companies are very much the minority I think but could be wrong.

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All the dancers are ambitious. They all work hard and strive to get to a place they feel meets their goals. Entering into a marriage to gain a job, then giving an interview to a paper stating things that she feels will make the public sympathetic and take any onus off her own responsibility is more then ambition. This is manipulative and to say such things as she is quoted as saying and then claim to not want to name anyone as she "trusts" them says more about her then it does about the Bolshoi. I raised my four children to be responsible for their actions. If she wanted to be forthcoming and come across as more genuine then she should have said who said what, where and when. Not some half statements that lead the public to assume Filin is to blame and create some excuse for why she is not at Bolshoi anymore. Is there an excuse really needed?

 

I do not doubt the issue of paying money was broached to her. I do however question whether she was actually asked or if that was just a piece of lame advice given to her. Many of the dancers have fathers, husbands on the back of Bolshoi. Yet they are in the corps as well.

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Well it could have been that some people in the Company said to her in general sort of way "if you want to get on this company you'll have to find at least x......£" etc(or more likely american dollars!) perhaps they all do?

 

But it's corrupt either way!

If its just "foreigners" expected to do this that's not exactly very friendly

And if it applies to all that is corruption too far!!

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