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Op-Ed: An Open Letter to the NYCB Dancers Who Are Supporting Peter Martins
Dear dancers of the New York City Ballet,
I realize that you are scared because the future of the New York City Ballet is uncertain; you don't know who will man the ship, and your career that you've worked your entire life for feels under attack.
On social media some of you alluded to the idea that Peter Martins' downfall is a result of the times; a maelstrom of allegations sweeping the country, bringing down powerful men, for misdeeds proven and unproven. I understand that for many of you this feels unfair: Peter has helped you personally ascend the ranks of the company by believing in you, and mentoring you. For others the described behavior may feel abstract; it isn't something you've witnessed, and many of the accusations occurred long before your time, maybe even before you were born. And above all, how could you possibly betray the man who plucked you from the school and gave you the chance of a lifetime: to dance with one of the most prestigious ballet companies in the world? How could you see this person, who gave you this chance, this gift, as the monster he's being painted as?
I care deeply about the future of the New York City Ballet, because like you, I gave my life to the company, and want nothing more than to see it succeed. I danced in the corps de ballet from 2001 until 2009 when I was a part of the mass layoff. I know from personal experience how terrifying it is to have your entire reality be pulled out from under you, so I'm not here to invalidate your feelings. Your careers are in flux, it's scary, but the allegations themselves are not what put you in this precarious position, Peter's behavior did.
It's okay if you want to write me off as a bitter former-dancer looking for vengeance, or you want to discredit me because I was let go. I've dealt with my feelings of shame and disappointment and rage in therapy, and I know that I'm not here to "get even" with anyone. I feel compelled to write you because I find myself in the unique place of having spent the same amount of time inside the professional dance world, as I have outside of it. And as a former insider I am aware that our voices are often considered irrelevant, which may be one reason some of you are standing with Peter rather than his accusers. In these times of uncertainly it makes sense that you feel the need to band together, but please don't allow this pack mentality to silence the voices of those who came before you because maybe there's a better way to run a world-renowned ballet company.
I have known some of you for a long time, so I'm telling you this as a friend: by posting on social media your sadness for Peter's downfall, you are siding with an abuser. You are discrediting the men and women who've come forward, an extraordinarily difficult thing to do outside the ballet world, and career suicide when it's done while still "inside." Even if you were to discredit each and every allegation, Peter's documented crimes are inarguable, and would be fireable offences in any other setting. Moreover, what are you conveying to your thousands of young fans, many of whom dream of one day having their own ballet careers, when you express blind devotion to a man in a powerful position?
Just like you can't equate a president to the Presidency, Peter was never New York City Ballet. The company is nothing without its dancers like a state isn't anything without its constituents. Change is often uncomfortable, but you should want someone at the helm with moral integrity, who deeply respects his or her employees, someone who sees the importance of a safe workplace for unfettered creation. I urge you to stand with New York City Ballet, not the man potentially responsible for its downfall.
Editor's note: We love hearing unique perspectives from throughout the dance field. Do you have a point of view you'd like to share in an op-ed? Email us at email@example.com.
The revival of everything '90s has been in full-swing for a while now—we saw Destiny's Child reunite at Coachella, Britney Spears is headed back on tour, and the Spice Girls miiight be performing at the Royal wedding next month. But Hollywood saved the best '90s moment for last, bringing *NSYNC back together to receive their official star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 30.
Because we love a good dance #TBT, we're reliving five of the boys' best dance moments.
"I Want You Back"
The band's first single from their self-titled debut album in 1998, "I Want You Back," was the start of their takeover (and their choreographed dance moves).
Looking for your next audition shoe? Shot at and in collaboration with Broadway Dance Center, Só Dança has launched a new collection of shoes working with some pretty famous faces of the musical theater world! Offered in two different styles and either 2.5" or 3" heels, top industry professionals are loving how versatile and supportive these shoes are! Pro tip: The heel is centered under the body so you can feel confident and stable!
When I wrote about my struggle with depression, and eventual departure from dance because of it, I expected criticism. I was prepared to be challenged. But much to my relief, and horror, dancers from all over the world responded with support and stories of solidarity. The most critical response I saw was this one:
"Dance isn't for everyone."
This may as well be a mantra in the dance world. We have become entrenched in the Darwinian notion that the emotionally weak will be weeded out. There is no room for them anyway.
Growing up in a family-owned dance studio in Missouri had its perks for tap dancer Anthony Russo. But it also earned him constant taunting, especially in high school.
"There was a junior in my sophomore year health class who was absolutely relentless," he says. "I'd get tripped on my way to the front of the classroom and he'd say, 'Watch out, twinkle toes.' If I raised my hand and answered a question incorrectly, I'd hear a patronizing 'Nice one, Bojangles.' "
Gina Gibney runs two enormous dance spaces in New York City: Together they contain 23 studios, five performance spaces, a gallery, a conference room, a media lab and more. Gibney is now probably the largest dance center in the country. It's not surprising that Dance Magazine named Gina Gibney one of the most influential people in dance today.
One of the biggest myths about ballet dancers is that they don't eat. While we all know that, yes, there are those who do struggle with body image issues and eating disorders, most healthy dancers love food—and eat plenty of it to fuel their busy schedules.
Luckily for us, they're not afraid to show it:
What does a superstar like Carlos Acosta do after bidding farewell to his career in classical ballet? In Acosta's case, he returns to his native country, Cuba, to funnel his fame, connections and prodigious energies back into the dance scene that formed him. Because of its top-notch, state-supported training programs and popular embrace of the art of dance, Cuba is brimming with talented dancers. What it has been short on, until recently, are opportunities outside of the mainstream companies, as well as access to a more international repertoire. That is changing now, and, with the creation of Acosta Danza, launched in 2016, Acosta is determined to open the doors even wider to new ideas and audiences.
There's so much more to the dance world than making and performing dances. Arts administrators do everything from raising money to managing companies to building new audiences. With the growing number of arts administration programs in colleges, dancers have an opportunity to position themselves for a multifaceted career on- or offstage—and to bring their unique perspective as artists to administrative work.
While Solange was busy helping big sis Beyoncé give Coachella its best performances of all time, an equally compelling project was quietly circulating on Instagram:
New York City Ballet continues its first year without Peter Martins at the helm as our spring season opens tonight.
When he retired at the start of the new year, we plunged headfirst into unknown, murky waters. Who would the new director be? When would we know? Would we dancers get some say in the decision? Who would oversee the Balanchine ballets? Who would be in charge of casting? Would a new director bring along huge upheaval? Could some of us be out of a job?