2 dancers fired by NYC Bal­let over nude photo ac­cu­sa­tions

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - LIVING - By Karen Matthews

NEW YORK » Two dancers were fired from the New York City Bal­let on Satur­day amid ac­cu­sa­tions that they were part of a ring of male dancers who in­ap­pro­pri­ately shared nude pho­tos and videos of women.

The bal­let com­pany said prin­ci­pal dancers Amar Ra­masar and Zachary Catarazo, as well as a third dancer, Chase Fin­lay, who re­signed last month, “en­gaged in in­ap­pro­pri­ate com­mu­ni­ca­tions, that while per­sonal, off-hours and off­site, had vi­o­lated the norms of con­duct that NYCB ex­pects from its em­ploy­ees.”

The fir­ings came af­ter a woman who had dated Fin­ley, Alexandra Water­bury, said in a law­suit this month that Fin­lay had sent ex­plicit videos and pho­tos of her taken with­out her knowl­edge to other men in­clud­ing dancers with the com­pany.

Water­bury charged in her law­suit against City Bal­let and Fin­lay that the com­pany tol­er­ated a “fra­ter­nity-like at­mos­phere” where male dancers un­der­stood that “they could de­grade, de­mean, mis­treat and abuse, as­sault and bat­ter women with­out con­se­quence.”

The law­suit said a male donor wrote to Fin­lay sug­gest­ing that the men should tie bal­leri­nas up “and abuse them like farm an­i­mals,” to which Fin­lay replied, “or like the sluts they are.”

While deny­ing that they had con­doned in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­ior, com­pany of­fi­cials be­gan an in­ves­ti­ga­tion af­ter they were made aware of Water­bury’s charges and were plan­ning to fire Fin­lay when he re­signed, the com­pany said.

Ra­masar and Catarazo, who were iden­ti­fied in the law­suit as hav­ing shared nude pho­tos with Fin­lay, were ini­tially sus­pended with­out pay be­fore the com­pany moved to ter­mi­nate them Satur­day.

“I am shocked and deeply sad­dened by the New York City Bal­let’s de­ci­sion to fire me,” Ra­masar said Satur­day in a state­ment. “I am an hon­est and hon­or­able per­son, and have al­ways treated ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing my col­leagues, staff, friends and oth­ers at NYCB, with the up­most re­spect.”

He said he was once a “poor, mi­nor­ity kid from the streets of the Bronx and have risen against all odds with hard work for ev­ery­thing I have been able to achieve.” Ra­masar added that in com­ing days, “I will be telling my side.”

City Bal­let ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Kather­ine Brown and in­terim artis­tic team leader Jonathan Stafford said in a state­ment, “We have no higher obli­ga­tion than to en­sure that our dancers and staff have a work­place where they feel re­spected and val­ued, and we are com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing that en­vi­ron­ment for all em­ploy­ees of New York City Bal­let. We will not al­low the pri­vate ac­tions of a few to un­der­mine the hard work and strength of char­ac­ter that is con­sis­tently demon­strated by the other mem­bers of our com­mu­nity or the ex­cel­lence for which the com­pany stands.”

A union rep­re­sent­ing Ra­masar and Catarazo said it would chal­lenge the fir­ings. “Based on all the in­for­ma­tion re­ceived from the com­pany, the al­le­ga­tions re­late en­tirely to non-work-re­lated ac­tiv­ity and do not rise to the level of ‘just cause’ ter­mi­na­tion,” the Amer­i­can Guild of Mu­si­cal Artists said in a state­ment. “As AGMA would do for any of its mem­bers, we will soon be fil­ing for ar­bi­tra­tion to en­force our mem­bers’ em­ploy­ment rights.”

Catarazo said he was “deeply sad­dened” by the ter­mi­na­tion of his con­tract.

“I have worked my whole life to reach the level of prin­ci­pal dancer at a com­pany hav­ing the high­est pres­tige, and I am dev­as­tated at the pos­si­bil­ity to no longer be able to share the stage with the won­der­ful, tal­ented artists and my friends there,” he said in a state­ment, adding, “I re­spect and ad­mire ev­ery bal­le­rina with whom I dance at the com­pany, and strive ev­ery day to be the best part­ner I pos­si­bly can be.”

The ousters of Fin­lay, Ra­masar and Catarazo leave City Bal­let with­out three of its 14 male prin­ci­pal dancers ahead of next week’s open­ing of the 2018-2019 season.

Ra­masar had been a ma­jor star of the com­pany who also won ac­co­lades for his per­for­mance as Jig­ger Crai­gin in the Broad­way re­vival of “Carousel.” An at­tor­ney for the dancer said Ra­masar would be on stage for the fi­nal per­for­mances of “Carousel,” which closes Sun­day. A rep­re­sen­ta­tive for “Carousel” did not im­me­di­ately re­turn an email seek­ing com­ment.

Water­bury’s at­tor­ney did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to an email seek­ing com­ment on the fir­ings of Ra­masar and Catarazo.

Af­ter Water­bury filed her law­suit on Sept. 4, an at­tor­ney for Fin­lay said that the al­le­ga­tions “should not be taken as fact.”

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