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Finlay Resigns, Catazaro and Ramasar Suspended -- Update: Catazaro and Ramasar Fired


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23 minutes ago, KayDenmark said:

Although I am not a lawyer, it seems to me that when it comes to Miss Waterbury's situation, what's material here is the extent to which NYCB (in particular, the management and board) knew about Finlay's and Ramasar's reprehensible behavior towards her (as well as that of the unnamed dancers toward her) and condoned it. It might also be material how much of it took place on NYCB premises or other work-related premises or took place on NYCB-provided devices, if dancers have access to such a thing. Otherwise we're talking about bad behavior on the dancers' own devices and own time. Is that their employers' responsibility?

I think you have touched on the most important aspects of this situation regarding the potential of any systemic issues within the company.  What did management and the board know and what should they have known?  Based on the allegations detailed in the complaint, it appears that Waterbury's disclosure to the company is when they were made aware of this behavior, at which point an investigation was conducted.  To me, that seems to be the most reasonable course of action.

Regarding what they should have known, I don't see how the company could have or should have known what a small group of their employees were discussing in their private communications.  How could they have known the content of their employees' private discussions without blatantly breaking privacy laws?

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5 minutes ago, Longtimelurker said:

I think you have touched on the most important aspects of this situation regarding the potential of any systemic issues within the company.  What did management and the board know and what should they have known?  Based on the allegations detailed in the complaint, it appears that Waterbury's disclosure to the company is when they were made aware of this behavior, at which point an investigation was conducted.  To me, that seems to be the most reasonable course of action.

Regarding what they should have known, I don't see how the company could have or should have known what a small group of their employees were discussing in their private communications.  How could they have known the content of their employees' private discussions without blatantly breaking privacy laws?

This may be completely true, and it's possible NYCB has no legal liability or exposure in connection with Waterbury's claims.  However, the damage to NYCB's public image is already done and won't easily be undone, regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit.

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8 hours ago, laurel said:

Right now, New York City Ballet makes ABT look very good in comparison, which I find as disturbing as all the other nightmarish things that are tearing  our country and culture and entire planet to shreds.  

If the management of ABT is smart, they will get out in front on any potential problems they might have with inappropriate work place behavior. Heck, all companies should be taking a look at acceptable standards of behavior. 

 

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I wonder how long all of this has been going on and, especially, how much the (past and present) leadership knew and turned a blind eye to. What is puzzling that Jon Stafford, according to the disposition, must have known about at least the drinking aspect of Chase Finlay. Why did he not react or perhaps was he told not to from the board?

 

 

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I don't think this necessarily makes them culpable, but I thought this was interesting. And it makes me like Stafford--I wonder if it was during this interim period? They just say "program director," but before his interim position, he was at SAB, so not sure how much contact he and Finlay would have had then. 

Indeed. one of the program directors, Jon Stafford. frequently asked Mr. Finlay about his partying and alcohol use because he smelled like alcoholic beverages and yet, NEW YORK CITY BALLET, INC. buried its head in the sand without investigating Mr. Finlay's conduct.

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I feel sorry for Chase's mother.  Some of you may know that she could frequently be spotted in the orchestra, and was always very nice.  Her son is an adult and made his own bad choices, but I still feel sorry for his mom.

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48 minutes ago, KayDenmark said:

I'm just not sure that cutting a large check to Miss Waterbury (and her lawyer) is the best way to accomplish this. 

 

48 minutes ago, KayDenmark said:

Would NYCB have been just as motivated to change if Miss Waterbury had been given a private settlement?  

Negotiated private settlements can also include provisions on injunctive (i.e., non-monetary) relief. It is conceivable that the proposed (and rejected) settlement would include provisions for injunctive relief, especially given that that’s one of the remedies now sought in the complaint. If NYCB agreed to a private settlement agreeing to injunctive relief including changes in practices, etc., that would be a strong (and enforceable) motivation to change.

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6 hours ago, wonderwall said:

During graduate school, I remember reading a few ethnographic studies on male sports teams regarding gender norms, masculinity, etc. One of the interesting observations made was that male teams in sports typically viewed as a "softer" or "more feminine" often had cultures that endorsed toxic masculinity (I remember a particularly shocking one about a male volleyball team, but interesting nonetheless). Of course, ballet is not a gendered team sport in the traditional sense, but reading through this, it makes me wonder whether their profession causes some male dancers to feel the need to overtly demonstrate macho masculinity/womanizing behavior (compensating in some way). While ballet is already entrenched in gendered roles/power structures, it is just interesting food for thought.

I watched this after reading this thread and thought it was very interesting--especially 2:52 through the end.

 

I've always been bothered by the fact that some straight male classical dancers, feel the need to declare how in to women they are and to brag about how much access they have to scantily clad, nubile women.  

It sounds so defensive and definitely isn't the most mature stance you can project.  

Will the resolution of these troubles result in real and lasting change?  As is the case with many august arts institutions,  when you get outside the nexus of it's biggest fans and supporters,  NYCB can seem hopelessly insular and so concerned with the preservation of the Balanchine and Robbins legacies that other issues are given short shrift. 

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13 minutes ago, abatt said:

This may be completely true, and it's possible NYCB has no legal liability or exposure in connection with Waterbury's claims.  However, the damage to NYCB's public image is already done and won't easily be undone, regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit.

You are probably correct and makes me worry where we are headed as a society.  I would also say that the company has more than a legal obligation to its employees but also an ethical one.  And in this case I can't see how they are culpable by either standard.  However, as you say, the damage is done.

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Will the resolution of these troubles result in real and lasting change?  As is the case with many august arts institutions,  when you get outside the nexus of it's biggest fans and supporters,  NYCB can seem hopelessly insular and so concerned with the preservation of the Balanchine and Robbins legacies that other issues are given short shrift. 

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15 minutes ago, tarantella2000 said:

I wonder how long all of this has been going on and, especially, how much the (past and present) leadership knew and turned a blind eye to. What is puzzling that Jon Stafford, according to the disposition, must have known about at least the drinking aspect of Chase Finlay. Why did he not react or perhaps was he told not to from the board?

I think the fact that he pointed out an issue shows that he did react.  We don't know the details of what was said between them or what further action was taken.

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44 minutes ago, abatt said:

NYCB did not dismiss Chase.  Chase resigned. 

These events explain why Chase was not in Saratoga or part of the Denmark tour.  Ditto, I believe, for Catazaro.

Catazaro was in Denmark; I saw him dance "Serenade". I don't know about Chase. 

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3 minutes ago, Tapfan said:

Will the resolution of these troubles result in real and lasting change?  As is the case with many august arts institutions,  when you get outside the nexus of it's biggest fans and supporters,  NYCB can seem hopelessly insular and so concerned with the preservation of the Balanchine and Robbins legacies that other issues are given short shrift. 

I think the first question that needs to be asked is if there needs to be real and lasting change from an institutional standpoint.  I think that is far from clear at this point.  If anything, I ascribe to the theory posited by others above regarding a general culture throughout ballet where straight male dancers continually need to prove and advertise their sexual orientation.  I think that is a societal issue and not something the company can change.

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3 minutes ago, Longtimelurker said:

I ascribe to the theory posited by others above regarding a general culture throughout ballet where straight male dancers continually need to prove and advertise their sexual orientation.  I think that is a societal issue and not something the company can change.

So does that suggest that we should expect that this same behavior is occuring at other ballet companies? If no, why not?

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4 minutes ago, Longtimelurker said:

I think that is a societal issue and not something the company can change.

Most issues relating to interpersonal dynamics involving gender and/or sexuality are "societal issues," and yet employers become responsible for changing things when those interpersonal dynamics have an impact on employees' ability to do their jobs in a safe environment.

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15 minutes ago, Tapfan said:

I've always been bothered by the fact that some straight male classical dancers, feel the need to declare how in to women they are and to brag about how much access they have to scantily clad, nubile women.  

It sounds so defensive and definitely isn't the most mature stance you can project.  

Yes, and they make these protestations surrounded by gay colleagues. I can only imagine how galling it must be for a gay man to hear one of his peers fret about the fact that people might think he's not straight and go out of his way to loudly assert his hetero bona fides. 

How refreshing it would be to hear a straight male dancer say something like "Yeah, some people think I'm gay, but I don't have a problem with that. Why would I?"

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7 hours ago, wonderwall said:

During graduate school, I remember reading a few ethnographic studies on male sports teams regarding gender norms, masculinity, etc. One of the interesting observations made was that male teams in sports typically viewed as a "softer" or "more feminine" often had cultures that endorsed toxic masculinity (I remember a particularly shocking one about a male volleyball team, but interesting nonetheless). Of course, ballet is not a gendered team sport in the traditional sense, but reading through this, it makes me wonder whether their profession causes some male dancers to feel the need to overtly demonstrate macho masculinity/womanizing behavior (compensating in some way). While ballet is already entrenched in gendered roles/power structures, it is just interesting food for thought.

I watched this after reading this thread and thought it was very interesting--especially 2:52 through the end.

 

Fascinating! I agree that given the homophobia/gay-bashing we know male dancers of all orientations can face, a similar dynamic could be operating here. It is a sad irony that men who may have been bullied for being “feminine” because they pursued dance grew up to bully women themselves in attempt to assert their own fragile sense of masculinity. Sexism and homophobia hurt everyone. 

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6 minutes ago, MarzipanShepherdess said:

Fascinating! I agree that given the homophobia/gay-bashing we know male dancers of all orientations can face, a similar dynamic could be operating here. It is a sad irony that men who may have been bullied for being “feminine” because they pursued dance grew up to bully women themselves in attempt to assert their own fragile sense of masculinity. Sexism and homophobia hurt everyone. 

I don't think the behavior here can necessarily be attributed to alpha male overcompensation of straight men who are in a profession where large numbers of men are gay.  There are examples of men behaving like infantile, disgusting  idiots in their dealing with women in every occupation.   Finlay and the others don;'t get a free pass in my book based on some psychological analysis of their occupational stresses.

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The Company's stance, related by the Board President, (paraphased) is, We looked at the allegations, we determined that we weren't liable, we treated it as an isolated incident among individuals, we punished the dancers who didn't resign with the appropriate punishment, and we are not responsible for anything beyond that.

Unless settled beforehand or during, that will be determined through the courts.  If other dancers join the lawsuit, like for the Nasser lawsuit, which eventually was brought by 332 women after Rachael Denhollander went public, then NYCB will be facing something very different.  

 

7 minutes ago, abatt said:

Finlay and the others don;'t get a free pass in my book based on some psychological analysis of their occupational stresses.

Recognizing a phenomenon doesn't give anyone a free pass, just as recognizing how being abused as a child is often the background of an abuser, unless a court says so or a jury has the lattitude to take it into consideration for sentencing.

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1 minute ago, Helene said:

The Company's stance, related by the Board President, (paraphased) is, We looked at the allegations, we determined that we weren't liable, we treated it as an isolated incident among individuals, we punished the dancers who didn't resign with the appropriate punishment, and we are not responsible for anything beyond that.

Here's the official statement from the Gothamist:

NYC Ballet released a statement, "New York City Ballet is confident that there is no basis for this lawsuit, and vehemently denies the allegations that the Company has condoned, encouraged, or fostered the kind of activity that Mr. Finlay and the others named have participated in, which were off-hours activities that were not known, approved, or facilitated by NYCB. Despite that, once NYCB was made aware of the allegations we investigated them and found that the actions had violated the Company’s norms of conduct, and immediate and appropriate action was taken. NYCB learned of this matter directly from the plaintiff’s attorney, Jordan Merson, in June of this year. Merson had contacted NYCB to try to negotiate a payment from the Company to settle the matter to avoid adverse publicity, but NYCB refused the demand. NYCB has no liability for the actions specified in the complaint and has taken the appropriate disciplinary actions for the dancers involved."

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People have talked about how this didn't happen at work so NYCB somehow shouldn't be involved because the dancers were on their own time.  This could be thought of as true if these were women not involved with NYCB.  However, the women these men were sharing photos of were their current and former co-workers and knowing that NYCB's response was just to suspend the two principals for a year.  Imagine if you worked there and one of your co-workers had been making horrific comments about you sexually and sharing photos of your co-workers and possibly you and the companies response was to give them a year's suspension and then in a year all is forgiven and you are to allow these men to partner you, to be very close physically, touching you and somehow trust that they are just working professionally.

The victim had every right to ask NYCB for money (and probably the firing of the three main perpetrators).  I'm sure she has had medical bills and therapy.  It's not like she asked for several million for hush money.

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23 minutes ago, abatt said:

I don't think the behavior here can necessarily be attributed to alpha male overcompensation of straight men who are in a profession where large numbers of men are gay.  There are examples of men behaving like infantile, disgusting  idiots in their dealing with women in every occupation.   Finlay and the others don;'t get a free pass in my book based on some psychological analysis of their occupational stresses.

I certainly agree they don’t get a free pass! Finlay and co have behaved reprehensibly, and I think that City Ballet’s response hasn’t been strong enough. What I was trying to say in my previous post was, I think this is both an individual problem (several specific men behaving badly) and one that reflects larger social problems (in both the ballet world and more broadly in our culture), and needs to be addressed on BOTH levels. It is important that individuals are held responsible, but also that the cultural conditions that enable or influence their behavior are addressed. 

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9 minutes ago, meatball77 said:

However, the women these men were sharing photos of were their current and former co-workers and knowing that NYCB's response was just to suspend the two principals for a year.  Imagine if you worked there and one of your co-workers had been making horrific comments about you sexually and sharing photos of your co-workers and possibly you and the companies response was to give them a year's suspension and then in a year all is forgiven and you are to allow these men to partner you, to be very close physically, touching you and somehow trust that they are just working professionally.

Not even a year, perhaps. It's a bit unclear exactly how long the suspensions are to last, but from the wording in articles and statements that have come out so far, it would seem Ramasar and Catazaro might return as early as the Winter 2019 season (which begins in January).

Edited by nanushka
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