Shameful

Prestigious ballet company fires dancers who were accused in explicit photo controversy

Fired New York City Ballet dancer Amar Ramasar. (Getty Images)

Two principal male dancers have been fired from the New York City Ballet, shortly after a female dancer implicated them in a nude photo sharing scandal that has rocked the prestigious company.

As The New York Times reports, City Ballet had initially planned to suspend Amar Ramasar and Zachary Catazaro until next year. But after hearing from other dancers and staff, the company decided to fire the pair.

Three out of a small cohort of 14 principal male dancers have now left the City Ballet as a result of a lawsuit filed by Alexandra Waterbury, who studied at an academy affiliated with the company between 2013 and 2016. In the suit, Waterbury alleged that a third principal dancer, Chris Finlay, had shared explicit photos and videos of her without her consent. Waterbury and Finlay had been dating for about a year when she found the material on his laptop. She did not know that the images had been taken.

Finlay resigned from City Ballet last month.

Waterbury’s lawsuit also claimed that Finlay sent nude photos of her to Ramasar, who allegedly responded by sending back explicit images of a “female ballet member.” The lawsuit alleged that Catazaro had shared images with Finlay as well, but did not elaborate on the nature of these images.

“I feel hopeless when trying to remember who I am because this has profoundly changed me as a person. I, myself, am lost,” Waterbury told CBS2. “These photos were the most embarrassing and degrading thing I have ever faced in my life.”

City Ballet reportedly conducted an investigation into Ramasar and Catazaro’s behavior, and found that they had “engaged in inappropriate communications, that while personal, off-hours and off-site, had violated the norms of conduct,” the Times reports.

Fired New York City Ballet dancer Zachary Catazaro performing the dance of metamorphosis. (YouTube)

Responding to his dismissal, Ramasar said in a statement that he had been fired for engaging in “non-work lawful activities between consenting adults.” He added, “The ballet already suspended me, but now, due to pressure caused by a lawsuit filed against it (but not me), has expelled me to appease people who have no idea what really happened. In the days ahead, I will be telling my story.”

Catazaro contended in a statement of his own that he had not been involved in sharing Waterbury’s “personal material.”

Waterbury’s lawsuit described not only explicit images allegedly sent among several male dancers in the company, but also lewd and demeaning language that Waterbury uncovered in Finlay’s texts messages. One donor allegedly wrote to Finlay and suggested that they tie female ballerinas up “and abuse them like farm animals.” “[O]r like the sluts they are,” Finlay responded, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit is also leveled against City Ballet, which Waterbury has accused of fostering a “fraternity-like atmosphere” that was “breeding ground for sexual exploitation and degradation.” In the video below, Waterbury speaks out about the ordeal and the shock she experienced at finding the intimate photos of her on Finlay’s computer and the messages he’d traded with his male colleagues about them.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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