2 dancers from New York City Ballet fired over alleged nude photos

NEW YORK (AP) -- 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 off-site, 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."

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I am shocked and deeply saddened by the New York City Ballet’s decision to fire me. I am a complete product of SAB starting from boys 1 and from there have dedicated 18 years of my life to NYCB, an institution that I love with all my heart. 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. My full story has yet to be revealed and as a result, people have concluded the worst about me. Unfortunately we live in a time where allegations are taken as fact, and actions are made rashly and harshly. I am 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. It takes a lifetime to build a good reputation and a career, but only a second for it to be destroyed. In the days ahead, I will be telling my side. Thankfully I have been receiving many messages of support from my colleagues and Union, who will be challenging my termination. In a rush judgment, NYCB has made a mistake, which in fairness must be rectified. All I want is to be able to share my love of dance with the ballet world again in the future. The biggest thank you to all of the ballerinas and other dancers that I have had the greatest honor of dancing with and have respected for the past 18 years.

A post shared by Amar Ramasar (@ramastar81) on

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

After processing my termination for a couple days , I have some additions to my last post ... As I said before, It is unfortunate that we live in a time where allegations are taken as fact. The real fact is that I was not in any way part of a group chat that people have erroneously linked me to, based on the allegations of a lawsuit. The disturbing comments about women being "farm animals", "sluts", “abused”, “raped”, and “tied up”, are not my words and never will be. It also needs to be said that I do not posses more than one NYCB female dancers photo. All photos are of a single Consenting adult, and the photos that were sent to me I have not circulated. The messages exchanged between Mr. Finlay and myself were private and sent on personal time outside of work, as New York City Ballet stated. That being said, I do take responsibility for my part in this. I am by no means saying that I have not made mistakes in life , and humbly admit times when my better judgement has been skewed. I feel deeply for Ms. Waterbury’s pain and those in New York City Ballet who are upset about this situation. The strong negative impact on the company and women involved is weighing heavily on all. I cannot change the past and will move forward having learned a great deal. I am taking this time to look inward and better myself in order to grasp the ramifications of this situation. I honestly hold all women and all people regardless of their gender, age, religion, and skin color to the highest and upmost respect. I will be taking a break from social media for a bit but I want to thank all my followers for their support, prayers, and love ❤️

A post shared by Amar Ramasar (@ramastar81) on

 

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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