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

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Thank you for the kind words, Amy.  Yesterday was a little dicey, because I had a full day commitment, and was trying to moderate intermittently on my phone, which is hard when you have to two-finger it and have little hand-eye coordination, lol.  It always astonishes me to see the kids these days flying through texts with two thumbs, and in Seattle, toggling between character sets.  I tried to thumb it one day and sent my phone flying down the aisle of a bus :wub:.

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34 minutes ago, Amy Reusch said:

I would like to thank the volunteer administrators of this board, and Helene in particular, for the time she has recently donated keeping up with this thread.  I am so grateful to you for making this and all the other discussions possible, despite the amount of oversight a thread like this requires.  I hope this is not considered discussing the discussers.  Thank you.  

+1. Thank you Helene!

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35 minutes ago, Amy Reusch said:

I would like to thank the volunteer administrators of this board, and Helene in particular, for the time she has recently donated keeping up with this thread.  I am so grateful to you for making this and all the other discussions possible, despite the amount of oversight a thread like this requires.  I hope this is not considered discussing the discussers.  Thank you.  

YES. I really appreciate having this space.

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Honestly I wonder if she read the posts here questioning her mental health and this is her response.

Edited by Balletwannabe

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Minty Lee said:

 

Quote

I know underage girls drinking and partying is not right either, but child porn is far worse, and that is not what anyone has alleged

Yes, absolutely, but I have a hard time thinking that drinking and partying with underage girls went on, and then suddenly someone said, "Stop! This far and no farther."

We're not supposed to speculate here, but it's not speculation to assume that under oath, people will be questioned about what happened in DC. And the questions will concern what happened with those underage girls at those parties, or that party.

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51 minutes ago, Amy Reusch said:

I would like to thank the volunteer administrators of this board, and Helene in particular, for the time she has recently donated keeping up with this thread.  I am so grateful to you for making this and all the other discussions possible, despite the amount of oversight a thread like this requires.  I hope this is not considered discussing the discussers.  Thank you.  

Yes, thank you for enabling us have this discussion!

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23 hours ago, Rock said:

 While Bouder's comments are tiresome, they're also typical. 

In a couple of respects at least I find Bouder's statement neither typical nor tiresome as we are (understandably) hearing very, very little --and that little relatively non-explicit--from other dancers in the company. 

She does seem to me to trying to thread the needle, so to speak: strongly defending New York City Ballet while expressing sympathy for Waterbury ... and yet, at the same time, sort of acknowledging that there may be institutional issues that need to be addressed. I imagine many are unlikely to find this satisfying. (Even I don't really find it satisfying.) But until I read a slew of dancers are speaking up, it seems to me in that regard, her statement is quite untypical and even a touch brave.

Brave?  I don't buy the idea that Bouder has nothing to risk in this mess: she has a life in New York City; ABT isn't going to hire her tomorrow--even assuming she wanted to dance for them or any company other than NYCB; and a new artistic director or, for that matter, Jonathan Stafford himself if he becomes the  company's next artistic director, could phase her out through casting decisions should that person so wish. Many audience members would say--'well she was getting older...she did take time off to have a baby...too political' etc. So I give her props for some bravery here.

Edited by Drew
Missing letter

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Bouder grew up with Jon Stafford. Naturally the position he's in right now would be difficult for her, but you'd think she could be a little bit supportive. "Throwing them under the bus" as Helene put it is unnecessary. I don't think it speaks well of her diplomatic capabilities. 

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20 minutes ago, Drew said:

In a couple of respects at last I find Bouder's statement neither typical nor tiresome as we are (understandably) hearing very, very little --and that little relatively non-explicit--from other dancers in the company. 

She does seem to me to trying to thread the needle, so to speak: strongly defending New York City Ballet while expressing sympathy for Waterbury ... and yet, at the same time, sort of acknowledging that there may be institutional issues that need to be addressed. I imagine many are unlikely to find this satisfying. (Even I don't really find it satisfying.) But until I read a slew of dancers are speaking up, it seems to me in that regard, her statement is quite untypical and even a touch brave.

Brave?  I don't buy the idea that Bouder has nothing to risk in this mess: she has a life in New York City; ABT isn't going to hire her tomorrow--even assuming she wanted to dance for them or any company other than NYCB; and a new artistic director or, for that matter, Jonathan Stafford himself if he becomes the  company's next artistic director, could phase her out through casting decisions should that person so wish. Many audience members would say--'well she was getting older...she did take time off to have a baby...too political' etc. So I give her props for some bravery here.

I agree with your take on this. 

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35 minutes ago, balanchinefreak said:

Minty Lee said:

 

Yes, absolutely, but I have a hard time thinking that drinking and partying with underage girls went on, and then suddenly someone said, "Stop! This far and no farther."

We're not supposed to speculate here, but it's not speculation to assume that under oath, people will be questioned about what happened in DC. And the questions will concern what happened with those underage girls at those parties, or that party.

Yes, I agree with you here as well. I just didn't want to insinuate anything sexual has been alleged of anyone at this point. What we might still discover could, unfortunately, prove you right.

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3 minutes ago, Rock said:

"Throwing them under the bus" as Helene put it is unnecessary. I don't think it speaks well of her diplomatic capabilities. 

It probably doesn't. But I also wonder if she's really blaming the interim team as directly and harshly as Helene's phrase suggests. Her statement could be read with an understanding that the interim team may not have the bandwidth, authority (in a variety of senses), ability, etc. to adequately address the situation. As others have suggested here, that's on the NYCB board as much as it's on them. When there are four leaders, all of whom have "interim" in their title, the company is in some sense left in a "leaderless state." Read in one way, she didn't directly address the role of interim team at all; she pointed out that the current structure is one that leaves the company without a true leader — not due to any fault of the team, but due to the structure itself.

Obviously, if she'd wanted, and if that's even what she thinks, she could have spelled all that out more explicitly in order to more directly clear them of responsibility. But she also could have been more direct and explicit if she'd wanted to throw them under the bus. She neither accused them nor excused them.

Maybe all that's too big a stretch; but I keep thinking of it as one way to read her post.

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10 minutes ago, nanushka said:

When there are four leaders, all of whom have "interim" in their title, the company is in some sense left in a "leaderless state." Read in one way, she didn't directly address the role of interim team at all; she pointed out that the current structure is one that leaves the company without a true leader — not due to any fault of the team, but due to the structure itself.

You are not wrong, but what I find interesting is that I only saw Jon's name under Kathy Brown's in that letter sent out to subscribers, etc. Unless the screenshots we saw cut off Justin, Becky and Craig's signatures underneath?

Edited by MintyLee
clarification

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Just now, MintyLee said:

You are not wrong, but what I find interesting is that I only saw Jon's name under Kathy Brown's in that letter. Unless the screenshots we saw cut off Justin, Becky and Craig's signatures underneath?

Yeah, I do think in some bureaucratic way Stafford is first among equals — I've never been exactly clear on the particulars. So that does add a further hesitancy to my reading of Bouder's post.

Here's how one of the company webpages explains the setup:

Quote

In December of 2017, an interim artistic management team led by NYCB Ballet Master and former Principal Dancer Jonathan Stafford was appointed to oversee the day-to-day artistic management of the Company. Joining Stafford on the interim team are NYCB Resident Choreographer and Soloist Justin Peck, as well as Ballet Masters Craig Hall and Rebecca Krohn.

And here's how they're listed on another:

Quote
Interim Artistic Team Jonathan Stafford
Justin Peck, Craig Hall, Rebecca Krohn

Do they have different titles?

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1 minute ago, nanushka said:

Yeah, I do think in some bureaucratic way Stafford is first among equals — I've never been exactly clear on the particulars. So that does add a further hesitancy to my reading of Bouder's post.

Here's how one of the company webpages explains the setup:

And here's how they're listed on another:

Do they have different titles?

I guess the "led by Jonathan Stafford" does make him first among equals. It makes sense--he's been a ballet master longer than any of the others have. JP wasn't going to get it, and heaven forbid they consider any of the remaining female ballet masters with more seniority than Jon.

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On ‎9‎/‎8‎/‎2018 at 1:59 PM, sappho said:

A final thought: I've just looked at John Clifford's Instagram and, perhaps unsurprisingly, he's managed to make this crisis all about himself. ("Some people have recently asked me what I thought about the problems now facing the board and company and if this could have happened in Balanchine's day. Absolutely not! is my answer.")

Clifford has made a new entry to his blog titled 'The Eye of the Storm' where he ruminates some more on this topic:

http://johnclifford26.blogspot.com/

 

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29 minutes ago, miliosr said:

Clifford has made a new entry to his blog titled 'The Eye of the Storm' where he ruminates some more on this topic:

http://johnclifford26.blogspot.com/

 

I think Clifford's post--which is about Balanchine's leadership in times of crisis not this current crisis per se--needs a thread to itself.  In commenting on it, and most especially in commenting on it as a way of thinking about what New York City Ballet needs today--which is how Clifford presents it,...well....I don't even know where one would begin.

I am very grateful for Clifford's youtube channel--I also have some distant memories of him as a terrific dancer--I was very young when I saw him, so unfortunately they are a little vague. And he knows a lot about Balanchine, but ...:dunno:

Edited by Drew

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4 hours ago, Rock said:

Bouder grew up with Jon Stafford. Naturally the position he's in right now would be difficult for her, but you'd think she could be a little bit supportive. "Throwing them under the bus" as Helene put it is unnecessary. I don't think it speaks well of her diplomatic capabilities. 

I didn’t take what Bouder posted as “throwing the interim team under the bus.” The four on the interim artistic management team have a different mandate than an AD, namely, “the day-to-day artistic management...” I can’t imagine they’d be expected to

1. redo or update contracts,

2. design and instigate a training program for new hires, a program that would apparently be the first of its kind in the 70 year history of NYCB

3. Respond to any ongoing or new litigation. 

4. Write a code of conduct, or direct an appropriate person to write one (please remove this is it’s too speculative)

I’m not even sure they have the authority to promote, demote or suspend dancers. NYCB doesn’t have an AD, neither the founder (because there was truly only Balanchine) or the ONE person who tried for those 30 odd years to replace him. It’s not an insult to Stafford, Hall, Krohn and Peck to state the truth, and I don’t think it in any way minimizes the admirable job they’ve done. 

Edited by BalanchineFan
Added detail and clarity

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It would seem clear that the interim team has at least the #1 you mention since new apprentices have, I believe, been chosen and last year's apprentices taken into the company. Am I wrong on this? That was my impression. As to #3, I don't think an AD or the interim team would be dealing with lawyers about this 'complaint'. 

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Rock, I was referring to rewriting the agreement the dancers sign upon entering the company, not to hiring new apprentices or replacing departing dancers, which are things that happen every single year.  

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49 minutes ago, Rock said:

It would seem clear that the interim team has at least the #1 you mention since new apprentices have, I believe, been chosen and last year's apprentices taken into the company. Am I wrong on this? That was my impression. As to #3, I don't think an AD or the interim team would be dealing with lawyers about this 'complaint'. 

 

44 minutes ago, BalanchineFan said:

Rock, I was referring to rewriting the agreement the dancers sign upon entering the company, not to hiring new apprentices or replacing departing dancers, which are things that happen every single year.  

The dancers at NYCB are all members of a union known as AGMA, which, confusingly, stands for the American Guild of Musical Artists. Here is a description from AGMA's website that talks a little bit about what they do: 

We are AGMA, the labor organization that represents the Artists who create America's operatic, choral and dance heritage... The core function of any labor union is to negotiate collective bargaining agreements that protect the union’s members and improve their working lives. Prior to AGMA’s existence, “work rules” consisted primarily of whatever the company managers decided they should be. The predictable result of such practices was that performers were exhausted and often ill by opening night. Now, of course, AGMA signatories are required to abide by work rules intended to prevent situations like the example above (https://www.musicalartists.org/about-agma/history/).

I mention this to point out that the document we often refer to as a "contract" is actually the dancer agreement negotiated between AGMA and NYCB. It dictates what the "work rules" are, as noted above. This includes things like how much a dancer is paid and how many hours they can be asked to work without requiring a break.

Rewriting or updating this document is not something any artistic director or executive director can do. Any changes are the result of negotiations between the company and the union. For an example of this process, here is an article from the Times about the last time there was an attempt to update the dancer agreement in 2011: https://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/28/arts/dance/city-ballet-and-dancers-struggle-to-avert-contract-impasse.html. As the article recounts, the dancers wanted a 3 percent pay increase, the company wanted to cut over time pay. The result? A federal negotiator had to be brought in.

I also found an example of an old dancer agreement between City Ballet and AGMA from 1999 that for some mysterious reason is available online via Berkely: http://irle.berkeley.edu/digital-collection/bargaining/pdf/0329.pdf. This document is obviously out of date, but you can see the kinds of things it governs, i.e. everything we usually think would be in a contract between the dancers and the company. See for example page 10 of the .pdf (including the first page, which is not part of the agreement) under section three. It lists what the pay was to be per week for each level of dancer. Other rules exist for how much a dancer is paid when rehearsing during a performance week, or if they are rehearsing a certain number of hours over what is usually expected during a rehearsal week (overtime). All these terms are defined specifically in the document as well. It even states the number of apprentices that can be in the company at any one time and how any pieces they can learn a season. Many of the things we think are up to an AD to decide are actually governed by this agreement. This is what I was trying to explain when I said dancers do not sign any agreement when they are hired--the agreement is signed between their union and the company.

Notice too on page 52 of the .pdf where the two parties sign the agreement--it's not the AD (which was still Peter at the time) nor the ED who signs it but the general manager of the company, who was Anne Parsons at the time for City Ballet. This person also plays a large role in the negotiations and in the enforcement of the rules in the company. This person also plays a role in disciplining dancers when necessary because it must follow the rules in the agreement. Brooks Parsons, the current general manager (no relation to Anne I don't think), would have played a role in deciding Zach and Amar should be suspended. The general manager is a figure few know about, and fewer still understand his duties, but he is very important at City Ballet.

A code of conduct, if one were to exist, would also have to be either presented in the dancer agreement or as an addendum to it because rules for when and whether a dancer can be fired or suspended are also governed by it. Notice that this example one does NOT have a code of conduct. It has a clause requiring a "harmonious workplace" to recognize "mutual dignity and respect," but this is between the dancers and the company, not anything that describes how employees should or should not act toward each other (also on page 52).

I know this is a lot of minutiae, but I mention it all only to point out that what we think an AD or an interim team can do are actually all things negotiated by the union.

Edited by MintyLee
typos, grammar, elaboration

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2 hours ago, MintyLee said:

I mention this to point out that the document we often refer to as a "contract" is actually the dancer agreement negotiated between AGMA and NYCB. It dictates what the "work rules" are, as noted above. This includes things like how much a dancer is paid and how many hours they can be asked to work without requiring a break.

There are two things referred to as a contract: 1. The contract signed between the Company and AGMA and 2. The individual contract signed by the dancer and the Company, which is customized for the dancer, presumably within the terms of contract #1.

 

2 hours ago, MintyLee said:

This person also plays a large role in the negotiations and in the enforcement of the rules in the company.

That is not necessarily true: the person who signs the contract has signing authority recognized by the Company and AGMA.  The former may be true in order for AGMA to recognize it.  How much the person who signs the contract has to do in the enforcement of the rules in a company depends on the organization itself.  Ultimate responsibility may fall on that person, unless they can show they were overridden by someone higher up the food chain. That doesn't mean 1. The role with signing authority for the contract in play is the same role that had signing authority when the old contract was signed or 2. That person is only one with oversight and enforcement responsibility.

 

2 hours ago, MintyLee said:

This person also plays a role in disciplining dancers when necessary because it must follow the rules in the agreement. Brooks Parsons, the current general manager (no relation to Anne I don't think), would have played a role in deciding Zach and Amar should be suspended. The general manager is a figure few know about, and fewer still understand his duties, but he is very important at City Ballet.

The entire company must follow the rules of the agreement.  How much role the person plays in any specific disciplinary action is organization-dependent, and with regard to NYCB, to assume a given person was involved in any specific decision, unless announced, is speculation, without access to the company's inner workings, ie, not official info.

2 hours ago, MintyLee said:

A code of conduct, if one were to exist, would also have to be either presented in the dancer agreement or as an addendum to it because rules for when and whether a dancer can be fired or suspended are also governed by it. Notice that this example one does NOT have a code of conduct. It has a clause requiring a "harmonious workplace" to recognize "mutual dignity and respect," but this is between the dancers and the company, not anything that describes how employees should or should not act toward each other (also on page 52).

And since this is not presented as the current contract, and the current contract isn't posted publicly, there is no way to know how specific or non-specific the language in place currently is or how much leeway the company has in interpreting anything that encompasses what was referred to by the Board President as "norms." Which, of course, could be in place simultaneously as a Code of Conduct, the terms of which can range from very specific to general.  Unless/until there is an objection by AGMA, we can only assume that the Company acted within the terms of the contract with AGMA in its interpretation, conclusion, and punishment.

 

3 hours ago, BalanchineFan said:

I didn’t take what Bouder posted as “throwing the interim team under the bus.” The four on the interim artistic management team have a different mandate than an AD, namely, “the day-to-day artistic management...”

Bouder said, 

Quote

And although this behavior was carried out by a few highly visible men alone, it was allowed to fester in our current leaderless state. The NYCB is searching for a new artistic leader. May we find a moral and fair individual to lead us out of this darkness and into future respect, integrity and success.

If it's the responsibility for the business administrative side to manage, they could have acted while the interim team was in charge -- in fact, it is often during interim leadership or leadership transitions that an organization takes the opportunity to clean house to give a new leader a clean slate -- but she expects a new artistic director to clean up the mess.  That is putting the responsibility on the artistic side.

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Does anyone find it disturbing that that the complaint (paragraphs 27 and 55) mentioned "... abuse them like farm animals". It is not clear who said it, 27 referred it was the "donor", 55 "coworker".  Perhaps it is not surprising whoever abuse women also abuse animals, I find it very disgusting. People who abuse or neglect animals are the scum of  the earth in my book.

I have little doubt that NYCB has fostered an environment that enabled such abusive attitude and behavior, just look at who has been their boss for the last 30 years. It is possible that this incidence is just a tip of iceberg. I wonder if NYCB in its own investigation has investigated other unnamed individuals, or encouraged other potential victims to come forward, or conducted a company-wide investigation?

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There is no evidence that anyone involved has ever abused or even encountered farm animals: it's a metaphor, however appalling.

8 minutes ago, Outside said:

I wonder if NYCB in its own investigation has investigated other unnamed individuals, or encouraged other potential victims to come forward, or conducted a company-wide investigation?

The only official news is that the Company investigated whatever information was brought to them by Waterbury's lawyer, and, as a result, they confronted Findlay, who resigned, and they suspended two other dancers.  There is no official news about any other scope or disciplinary actions.  

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I woke up this morning and was thinking of this. That has to stop, I have to get my life back, so I have a few parting thoughts.

The defendant has 20 days to respond - although I suppose they can ask for an extension - can a lawyer here confirm that?

There's nothing more of substance to say until that happens.  So, with that in mind, a few thoughts before I sign off -

Bouder had to say something. She's an outspoken feminist. I disagree with much of what she says but that's irrelevant. She had to speak out. I thought her statement was poorly written but she's a ballerina, not a writer. (Waterbury's lawyer has no such excuse. The complain is frightfully badly written.) She's probably in anguish. Nothing she says is going to figure in the case anyway.  

Please. It's just one woman's word. And she said that NYCB is NOT a hostile environment, so forget about it.

Waterbury. If (and it is a big if) her charges against Finlay are supported by documentation, he is in a boatload of legal trouble.

The guys with whom he corresponded are morally tarnished.  Ramasar - what on earth was a 36-year old man thinking, behaving this way? (I'm not excusing the others, but honestly, shouldn't he have known better?)

The donor is a sleazebag who should never be allowed anywhere near the NYCB. 

Nothing I have said in the previous two paragraphs should be taken as criticizing Waterbury.

She was violated and what was done to her was illegal. 

It will be up to the law to decide who is legally culpable. Still - it's a lesson to us all and something to drum into kids as soon as they go out into the world - be very careful who you hang around. 

Everyone here is so so surprised, but really - was it a surprise? I don't think so.  That donor was creepiness personified.

Peace out. D-day comes on September 25.

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