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

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I must have missed that somewhere in the thread. 

Interesting that Finlay is also related to the pioneering ballerina Ruth Page, who is his dad's great-aunt. Maybe that made it more acceptable for him to choose dance as a career. His family appears to include a lot of architects and designers.

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This message just arrived via e-mail:

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We’re writing today to offer our thanks to you for your support of New York City Ballet during what has been, to put it mildly, a challenging year.  

As you may know, in August, the Company took disciplinary action against two dancers and a third resigned after an investigation found that they had violated norms of conduct required by the Company with regard to their personal text and email exchanges. This week we learned that a lawsuit has been filed against NYCB alleging that the actions of these individuals were somehow condoned by this Company. It is important for you to know that NYCB took disciplinary action against these individuals before the lawsuit was filed, and that prior to this investigation these communications were not known, approved, or facilitated by NYCB. We want to assure you that this type of behavior is not rampant within the organization and that no one here would ever condone or tolerate any conduct of this nature.  

New York City Ballet stands for excellence in every aspect of its operations. We work diligently to ensure that NYCB is a place where our employees feel safe and respected and that over the past year additional resources and training have been made available to our dancers and staff to further support this objective. The dancers of the NYCB are among the most gifted and hard-working artists in the world and they deserve nothing less. They are currently in rehearsals preparing for the opening of a very exciting fall performance season, and we all look forward to launching another wonderful year full of creativity and superb artistry on September 18.

 

Again, thank you for your patronage of NYCB.

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Katherine E. Brown
Executive Director

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Jonathan Stafford
Interim Artistic Team Leader

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2 hours ago, nanushka said:

Many people get text messages on their laptops, as well as on their phones. My understand is that she was given access to Finlay's laptop (by Finlay) and one or more text message threads popped up (which could happen whenever a new message came in on that thread).

Is that others' understanding?

That is certainly mine.

On my mac, all iphone msgs appear on the computer.

I see someone DID say this earlier. My apologies for missing it in the flurry of messages and the inadvertent repetition!

Edited by aurora

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26 minutes ago, California said:

This message just arrived via e-mail:

NYCB logo

Twitter Facebook YouTube Instagram

 


We’re writing today to offer our thanks to you for your support of New York City Ballet during what has been, to put it mildly, a challenging year.  

As you may know, in August, the Company took disciplinary action against two dancers and a third resigned after an investigation found that they had violated norms of conduct required by the Company with regard to their personal text and email exchanges. This week we learned that a lawsuit has been filed against NYCB alleging that the actions of these individuals were somehow condoned by this Company. It is important for you to know that NYCB took disciplinary action against these individuals before the lawsuit was filed, and that prior to this investigation these communications were not known, approved, or facilitated by NYCB. We want to assure you that this type of behavior is not rampant within the organization and that no one here would ever condone or tolerate any conduct of this nature.  

New York City Ballet stands for excellence in every aspect of its operations. We work diligently to ensure that NYCB is a place where our employees feel safe and respected and that over the past year additional resources and training have been made available to our dancers and staff to further support this objective. The dancers of the NYCB are among the most gifted and hard-working artists in the world and they deserve nothing less. They are currently in rehearsals preparing for the opening of a very exciting fall performance season, and we all look forward to launching another wonderful year full of creativity and superb artistry on September 18.

 

Again, thank you for your patronage of NYCB.

kb.png

Katherine E. Brown
Executive Director

js-v02.png

Jonathan Stafford
Interim Artistic Team Leader

when 3 of your principal dancers were involved, it is hard to argue it is not rampant. At least it takes a lot of chutzpah.

To say nothing of the mildness of the slap on the wrist "disciplinary action" they are claiming shows they took action (before the suit was filed! look we did something right!!)

Edited by aurora

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I read the whole thread, and while I agree with many points already made, this letter omits three important details:

  • Organization remedy for the donor's multiple incidents of appalling behavior.
  • Organization remedy for the other NYCB-connected participants in the group-share of explicit photos / videos.
  • Organization remedy for the NYCB employee who forwarded explicit photos / videos of Ms. Waterbury to a pimp. 

Other thoughts:

  • There have been all sorts of corporate cases where employees were bad actors on company time, without company permission, and the company still had to pay out a settlement, or lost a lawsuit and had to pay damages.   Phones have date/time stamps, location stamps, etc and that is going to come back to haunt some people who gave in to temptation.  
  • The culture blossomed under Peter Martins' management, and continued after despite the #metoo movement.  This does not develop overnight.  
  • If the organization tried to dissuade a victim from pursuing a legal complaint after a sexual assault in Vail, City of Washington, or other place, then there may be other legal consequences.  
  • The dancers are athletes, and are paid to keep their bodies in tip top shape.  Avoiding Colombian marching powder seems pretty straightforward.  So does showing up to class sober, and keeping a hotel room in good order.  The male dancers thought they were untouchable, but in reality, they are completely replaceable.  NYCB doesn't even have to look internationally to find replacements.  They can just ask Justin Peck who he's worked with at other companies (SFB, MCB, PNB, HB, etc), and reach out to those men.  
  • Maybe we need to let go of the concept that slavish devotion to a sport or an artform develops character.  I think it develops work ethic, but not character.  
  • Social media puts traditional office gossip / shenanigans / relationships on steroids.  I am so glad I was a young person when email was the only thing that got us into trouble. 

 

  • POST SCRIPT:  The donor's name has been omitted as a legal tactic.  I'm sure the ABT corps members are not thrilled to be included in his misogynist fantasy, nor to be included in the legal claim or multiple media reports.  I'm sure they are having their own revenge fantasies of throwing drinks in his face and giving the donor a hard slap at the next fundraiser. 

 

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As I still have not read the complaint, I thank those of you who have and have answered my questions about it. New question: is the "donor" who is mentioned identified in any way beyond "a donor," in other words does it say major donor, sustaining donor, whether the person is on any committees, has formally hosted official functions, or any other designation beyond "a donor"? I mean, I am a donor. The amount I give is piddling, of course (although they will get more from my eventual estate), but the point is that pretty much anyone could be "a donor." If I got drunk at a party and my microphone was cut off, NYCB would never know or have anything to say about it, even if some of the dancers were there.

Edited by cobweb
misplaced quotation marks

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1 hour ago, KayDenmark said:

I must have missed that somewhere in the thread. 

Interesting that Finlay is also related to the pioneering ballerina Ruth Page, who is his dad's great-aunt. Maybe that made it more acceptable for him to choose dance as a career. His family appears to include a lot of architects and designers.

Oh wow I didn't know that. The NYPL Performing Arts branch is having a small exhibition about her I think.

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Google always seems to know what I'm interested in, and just half an hour ago served up a 6-month-old article by Camille Paglia from Hollywood Reporter. It gets back to the question, discussed up-thread, of whether the physical nature of ballet somehow means standards should be different from the regular workplace (paraphrasing what I remember from that discussion). Paglia writes:

"The performing arts may be inherently susceptible to sexual tensions and trespasses. During the months of preparation for stage or movie productions, day and night blur, as individuals must melt into an ensemble, a foster family that will disperse as quickly as it cohered. Like athletes, performers are body-focused, keyed to the fine-tuning of muscle reflexes and sensory awareness. But unlike athletes, performers must explore and channel emotions of explosive intensity. To impose rigid sex codes devised for the genteel bourgeois office on the dynamic performing arts will inevitably limit rapport, spontaneity, improvisation and perhaps creativity itself."

I guess the question is, can one have a less rigid sex code, and still avoid abuses or harassment? Are they inevitably linked? How are they different? 

Edited by cobweb
left a word out of the quote

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15 minutes ago, cobweb said:

I guess the question is, can one have a less rigid sex code, and still avoid abuses or harassment?

I have no idea what Paglia means by a "less rigid sex code," but I certainly think that freely consenting adults can have as much sex as they'd like with whomever they like without abusing and harassing each other. 

Taking explicit pictures of someone and sharing them without their express, freely given consent doesn't violate a sex code: it violates human decency and every individual's right to privacy, dignity, and self determination.

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11 minutes ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

Taking explicit pictures of someone and sharing them without their express, freely given consent doesn't violate a sex code: it violates human decency and every individual's right to privacy, dignity, and self determination.

Yes, of course. I hope I am not taken to be condoning that. If Chase actually did this, he should suffer the consequences. I was referring more to the comments up-thread (as I recall) about whether the professional ballet workspace is different from other workplaces in ways that might be related to physicality and sexuality.

Edited by cobweb

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14 minutes ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

I have no idea what Paglia means by a "less rigid sex code," but I certainly think that freely consenting adults can have as much sex as they'd like with whomever they like without abusing and harassing each other. 

Taking explicit pictures of someone and sharing them without their express, freely given consent doesn't violate a sex code: it violates human decency and every individual's right to privacy, dignity, and self determination.

As I understand it, the NYCB dancers are free to have sex with one another. The company doesn’t allow this in cases where there is a “reporting relationship” between two employees, though. They only bothered to make this a rule after Kistler retired.

I’m not sure what a freer sexual environment at a workplace would look like.

Maybe the physical nature of the profession, the long hours together and the insular nature of a ballet company lead to more romantic and sexual relationships than you’d see at your average workplace. But I don’t see anything wrong with that, and it’s very different from the abuses that have been discussed here.

Edited by fondoffouettes

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4 minutes ago, cobweb said:

Yes, of course. I hope I am not taken to be condoning that. I was referring more to the comments up-thread (as I recall) about whether the professional ballet workspace is different from other workplaces in ways that might be related to physicality and sexuality.

What are the specific restrictions against workplace sexual harassment and abuse that impinge in any way on the appropriate, professional and necessarily physical interactions between dancers, and how do they do so?

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22 minutes ago, cobweb said:

Google always seems to know what I'm interested in, and just half an hour ago served up a 6-month-old article by Camille Paglia from Hollywood Reporter. It gets back to the question, discussed up-thread, of whether the physical nature of ballet somehow means standards should be different from the regular workplace (paraphrasing what I remember from that discussion). Paglia writes:

"The performing arts may be inherently susceptible to sexual tensions and trespasses. During the months of preparation for stage or movie productions, day and night blur, as individuals must melt into an ensemble, a foster family that will disperse as quickly as it cohered. Like athletes, performers are body-focused, keyed to the fine-tuning of muscle reflexes and sensory awareness. But unlike athletes, performers must explore and channel emotions of explosive intensity. To impose rigid sex codes devised for the genteel bourgeois office on the dynamic performing arts will inevitably limit rapport, spontaneity, improvisation and perhaps creativity itself."

I guess the question is, can one have a less rigid sex code, and still avoid abuses or harassment? Are they inevitably linked? How are they different? 

Paglia is a controversial writer who always makes me think. I think I understand what she is describing. I have seen many tour romances/relationships, short term sexual relationships during summer jobs, and even (in a ballet company I belonged to) a decision to have a co-ed dressing room. We all got used to being naked in front of each other, even those of us who started out undressing behind screens. That is all fine. The issues comes when there is a big power inbalance and non-consent. So I can agree that there are times in the performing arts when regular workplace rules are dismissed, still power pressure  and non-consent can not be accepted.

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10 minutes ago, fondoffouettes said:

Maybe the physical nature of the profession, the long hours together and the insular nature of a ballet company lead to more romantic and sexual relationships than you’d see at your average workplace. But I don’t see anything wrong with that, and it’s very different from the abuses that have been discussed here.

Bingo. There doesn't seem to me to be anything at all about the present case that's mitigated by the fact that work in a ballet company naturally (and appropriately) involves more physical interactions with one's coworkers.

Edited by nanushka

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14 minutes ago, cobweb said:

Google always seems to know what I'm interested in, and just half an hour ago served up a 6-month-old article by Camille Paglia from Hollywood Reporter. It gets back to the question, discussed up-thread, of whether the physical nature of ballet somehow means standards should be different from the regular workplace (paraphrasing what I remember from that discussion). Paglia writes:

"The performing arts may be inherently susceptible to sexual tensions and trespasses. During the months of preparation for stage or movie productions, day and night blur, as individuals must melt into an ensemble, a foster family that will disperse as quickly as it cohered. Like athletes, performers are body-focused, keyed to the fine-tuning of muscle reflexes and sensory awareness. But unlike athletes, performers must explore and channel emotions of explosive intensity. To impose rigid sex codes devised for the genteel bourgeois office on the dynamic performing arts will inevitably limit rapport, spontaneity, improvisation and perhaps creativity itself."

I guess the question is, can one have a less rigid sex code, and still avoid abuses or harassment? Are they inevitably linked? How are they different? 

I had a twenty year career as a performer, and I don't agree with anything Camille Paglia writes. That said, there are a lot of people today using Tindr and Grindr for hookups, a lot of people have casual sex... both performers and non-performers. There are less rigid standards for proper behavior in all sorts of communities. Taking sexually explicit pictures (much less circulating them) without consent is not OK in any of them.

I know Merson claims that ALL the men on the text/email chain knew the pictures were taken without consent, but my views are also shaped by the fact that he offers no proof for that claim. I live in a world where you can easily come in on an email or text chain that's 20-50 entries long.  Take a look at this topic, for instance. Maybe you don't scroll up and read what was at the top before you comment. Who knows what each of the men knew. We certainly don't.

All I've read so far, and I emphasize SO FAR, implicates Chase Finlay.

Of course I could also be in denial. I do like to see the good in people.

Several posters see some complicity in a donor being involved. I don't understand why. NYCB has pages and pages of donors listed in each program. Is NYCB responsible for all of their behavior? Is NYCB supposed to return money if someone makes a drunken speech, or throws a party where alcohol is served?

 

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4 minutes ago, nanushka said:

What are the specific restrictions against workplace sexual harassment and abuse that impinge in any way on the appropriate, professional and necessarily physical interactions between dancers, and how do they do so?

 

4 minutes ago, vipa said:

The issues comes when there is a big power inbalance and non-consent. So I can agree that there are times in the performing arts when regular workplace rules are dismissed, still power pressure  and non-consent can not be accepted.

Nanushka - I was not expressing an opinion, but raising a question. And thank you vipa, for your answer. You touch right on the thoughts that were percolating in my mind. 

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2 minutes ago, cobweb said:

 

Nanushka - I was not expressing an opinion, but raising a question. 

I understood that. I was raising a question in response to the Paglia quote. It was a genuine one.

Edited by nanushka

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... in this vein, I recall the demonstration I saw a year or so ago, with Peter Martins and several of the dancers onstage. He was touching them unduly - not for the purpose of corrections - rubbing one dancer's arm casually as he stood there talking to the audience, or going out of his way to reach for another dancer as she was leaving the stage and squeezing the back of her neck. It really turned my stomach. I felt, someone on the Board should tell him to stop this. These women are in no position to object, both because it was their boss, and because he was doing it onstage in front of an audience, where the pressure was on them to "play nice."

Just now, nanushka said:

I understood that. I was raising a question in response to the Paglia quote. It was a genuine one.

Thanks for the clarification, nanushka. I didn't want to be misunderstood. 

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12 hours ago, valsetriste said:

What? This is really splitting hairs. "Dancer" is her profession. As someone who has been "19" as well as 20, I can't think of a discernible difference between the two.

If she's 19, a news site can go with the headline, "Teen ballerina sexually....[whatever]" and people click on it to see if she's 14. If they don't read the article they might imagine NYCB is sending out teen hookers. Look at the differences in reporting from the various news outlets. Some are incredibly salacious, others less so.

Edited by BalanchineFan

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9 minutes ago, vipa said:

The issues comes when there is a big power inbalance and non-consent. So I can agree that there are times in the performing arts when regular workplace rules are dismissed, still power pressure  and non-consent can not be accepted.

What are "regular workplace rules"? Where I've worked the only the formal rules 1) strictly enjoined romantic or sexual relationships when there was also a reporting relationship and 2) forbade coercion and harassment in any form. There were informal rules, of course: 1) keep it to yourselves, 2) don't let it interfere with work, and 3) don't exploit whatever power you might have.

And I absolutely agree that power imbalances, peer pressure, and even subtle coercion have no place in any workplace, whether the arts happen there or not. 

 

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1 hour ago, cobweb said:

As I still have not read the complaint, I thank those of you who have and have answered my questions about it. New question: is the "donor" who is mentioned identified in any way beyond "donor," in other words does it say major donor, sustaining donor, whether the person is on any committees, has formally hosted official functions, or any other designation beyond "donor"? I mean, I am a donor. The amount I give is piddling, of course (although they will get more from my eventual estate), but the point is that pretty much anyone could be a "donor." If I got drunk at a party and my microphone was cut off, NYCB would never know or have anything to say about it, even if some of the dancers were there.

No, just "donor." 

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33 minutes ago, cobweb said:

Yes, of course. I hope I am not taken to be condoning that. If Chase actually did this, he should suffer the consequences. I was referring more to the comments up-thread (as I recall) about whether the professional ballet workspace is different from other workplaces in ways that might be related to physicality and sexuality.

Got it! I actually don't think the ballet (or arts) workspace is all that radically different from many more work-a-day enterprises. I'm not sure how many of those Paglia has actually experienced. 😉

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37 minutes ago, fondoffouettes said:

As I understand it, the NYCB dancers are free to have sex with one another. The company doesn’t allow this in cases where there is a “reporting relationship” between two employees, though. They only bothered to make this a rule after Kistler retired.

Will Brittany Pollack be reporting to someone other than Jonathan Stafford once Carousel closes?

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20 minutes ago, cobweb said:

... in this vein, I recall the demonstration I saw a year or so ago, with Peter Martins and several of the dancers onstage. He was touching them unduly - not for the purpose of corrections - rubbing one dancer's arm casually as he stood there talking to the audience, or going out of his way to reach for another dancer as she was leaving the stage and squeezing the back of her neck. It really turned my stomach. I felt, someone on the Board should tell him to stop this. These women are in no position to object, both because it was their boss, and because he was doing it onstage in front of an audience, where the pressure was on them to "play nice."

 

Wow cobweb that is so interesting to me. I'm sure I was at the same event and didn't that same way at all. In fact I warmed to Peter Martins.  You are a student who is nervous about dancing, for the for the first time, in front of a big audience and the director of the company touches/squeezes the back of your neck to show that you're doing OK. If Lordes Lopez squeezed the arm of a male student in a Miami City Ballet in a lecture-demo, would you feel the same way? I truly didn't find anything unusual or bad about it. I don't think he was going out of his way to reach for another dancer, he was merely showing his approval/encouragement.

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24 minutes ago, BalanchineFan said:

If she's 19, a news site can go with the headline, "Teen ballerina sexually....[whatever]" and people click on it to see if she's 14. If they don't read the article they might imagine NYCB is sending out teen hookers. Look at the differences in reporting from the various news outlets. Some are incredibly salacious, others less so.

This is very true...there are "teenage ballerina..." headlines floating around.  I believe the lawyer made a calculated decision in making this "mistake" of circulating that she was 19.  

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