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


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If I’m reading this quote from NY Times correctly, the dancers and staff at NYCB wanted Catazaro and Ramasar fired?

“The company said in a statement on Saturday that after hearing the concerns of dancers, staff members and others in the City Ballet community, it had decided to fire Mr. Ramasar and Mr. Catazaro. (The statement also said the company had already made the decision to fire Mr. Finlay when he resigned.)”

 

 

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3 minutes ago, Rick said:

If I’m reading this quote from NY Times correctly, the dancers and staff at NYCB wanted Catazaro and Ramasar fired?

“The company said in a statement on Saturday that after hearing the concerns of dancers, staff members and others in the City Ballet community, it had decided to fire Mr. Ramasar and Mr. Catazaro. (The statement also said the company had already made the decision to fire Mr. Finlay when he resigned.)”

There's no definite article, though, so the implication is "some."

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These are sad times for American arts, culture and ballet. I am not taking sides for or against any of the dancers involved. I am taking side agains the American legal system in general and Ms. Waterbury’s lawyer in particular. Being adversarial in its nature,  the legal system applies a schorched earth strategy leaving no winners and destroying everyone in the process.  The process of discovery alone will turn everyone’s life upside, demoralize, demean, corrupt and crush both the plaintiff and the defendants.  It will leave everyone sick to their stomach and in need of recovery after the case is over. I  mean no disrespect to any legal professional who contributes to this forum, but I don’t see a happy ending to this story besides for Mr. Merson who would walk away with a bigger chunk of settlement money or get great publicity out of this to become a TV personality.

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2 minutes ago, Dreamer said:

These are sad times for American arts, culture and ballet. I am not taking sides for or against any of the dancers involved. I am taking side agains the American legal system in general and Ms. Waterbury’s lawyer in particular. Being adversarial in its nature,  the legal system applies a schorched earth strategy leaving no winners and destroying everyone in the process.  The process of discovery alone will turn everyone’s life upside, demoralize, demean, corrupt and crush both the plaintiff and the defendants.  It will leave everyone sick to their stomach and in need of recovery after the case is over. I  mean no disrespect to any legal professional who contributes to this forum, but I don’t see a happy ending to this story besides for Mr. Merson who would walk away with a bigger chunk of settlement money or get great publicity out of this to become a TV personality.

without the legal system, it is unlikely that there would be any consequences for the men, and certainly there would be no restitution or remedy for Ms Waterbury.

It is adversarial because they (Finlay most particularly) violated her.

 

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9 minutes ago, aurora said:

without the legal system, it is unlikely that there would be any consequences for the men, and certainly there would be no restitution or remedy for Ms Waterbury.

It is adversarial because they (Finlay most particularly) violated her.

 

I did not question the utility of legal system. My comment concerned the ways it operates and the emotional aspects for those involved in a law suit. 

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Life doesn't guarantee "happy endings," and there's no requirement for justice to be pretty.  The "happy ending" would be one-sided if there was not legal system through which to get remedies. There's no reason why someone shouldn't be paid for the work they do or be rewarded and follow the incentives: it's what people do in the workplace, even where those workplaces are controlled centrally.  And perhaps the people involved in the communications could have prevented all of the negative emotional aspects of their actions had they not shared the images, lawsuit or no lawsuit, court or not court? 

The more I think about it, the smarter this action seems: NYCB has expanded this to a workplace issue, although they don't believe they are responsible for creating an environment in which the behavior was encouraged or tolerated once brought to their attention.  Now AGMA is in the same position as the CBC union was with Ghomeshi:  responsible for advocating for both sides, the men who've been fired and the employees who have to work there, some of whose images were shared and commented on with complete disrespect, and their hand is forced, as they must choose.   By taking the side of the men, they are on the wrong side of the zeitgeist.  If AGMA prevails in this, then NYCB can claim that their hands are tied, and it's the union's responsibility.  If AGMA fails, then AGMA is weakened, and that's the best news for an arts organization that has to negotiate with them. 

If AGMA prevails, can NYCB simply buy out their existing contracts and not renew them?  Do they have to give cause and/or long notice in general for Principal Dancers to be not renewed?  (There could be dancer-specific terms as well.)  Do they have to cast them, or can they just deposit the paychecks and leave them on insurance and benefits until the end of their contracts?

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3 minutes ago, Helene said:

Life doesn't guarantee "happy endings," and there's no requirement for justice to be pretty.  The "happy ending" would be one-sided if there was not legal system through which to get remedies.  And there's no reason why someone shouldn't be paid for the work they do or be rewarded and follow the incentives: it's what people do in the workplace, even where those workplaces are controlled centrally.  And perhaps the people involved in the communications could have prevented all of the negative emotional aspects of their actions had they not shared the images? 

The more I think about it, the smarter this action seems: NYCB has expanded this to a workplace issue, although they don't believe they are responsible for creating an environment in which the behavior was encouraged or tolerated once brought to their attention.  Now AGMA is in the same position as the CBC union was with Ghomeshi:  responsible for advocating for both sides, the men who've been fired and the employees who have to work there, some of whose images were shared and commented on with complete disrespect, and their hand is forced, as they must choose.   By taking the side of the men, they are on the wrong side of the zeitgeist.  If AGMA prevails in this, then NYCB can claim that their hands are tied, and it's the union's responsibility.  If AGMA fails, then AGMA is weakened, and that's the best news for an arts organization that has to negotiate with them. 

If AGMA prevails, can NYCB simply buy out their existing contracts and not renew them?  Do they have to give cause and/or long notice in general for Principal Dancers to be not renewed?  (There could be dancer-specific terms as well.)  Do they have to cast them, or can they just deposit the paychecks and leave them on insurance and benefits until the end of their contracts?

My thoughts exactly when it comes to the dynamic between AGMA and NYCB. It was definitely a smart move by NYCB to shift the onus onto the union.

And I also had similar thoughts regarding contract buyouts should AGMA prevail. I was assuming that the contracts would be bought out in that case and therefore thought that the last paragraph of Catazaro’s statement was naive in believing that he could rejoin the company. However you bring up some valid questions regarding contract details which could effect how this plays out.

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20 minutes ago, nanushka said:

There's no definite article, though, so the implication is "some."

Whether it was "some" or "all",  firing an employee,  who is otherwise doing his job and fulfilling the terms of his contract,  because other employees don't like him is not a defensible position.  This isn't  Survivor,  where the majority gets to vote someone off the island.  I don't  know much about Catazaro,  but from the snippets seen in Ballet 422,  Ramasar is a gentle and considerate partner,  despite any kinks he may have in his personal life.

If for reasons of saving face,  and because of the Waterbury challenge ahead,  NYCB won't  reinstate Catazaro and Ramasar,  then the company would be wise to compensate them for the loss of their careers and reputations.  They might go quietly if after legal expenses they have at least $1,000,000.  (That may seem like a lot but it's far less than NYCB may have to spend to defend their actions.)  This matter needs to go away fast.  The optics are really bad for the company - two ethnic dancers being punished because of the shenanigans of a rich white boy from Connecticut.

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8 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

The optics are really bad for the company - two ethnic dancers being punished because of the shenanigans of a rich white boy from Connecticut

So they didn't distribute inappropriate videos and/or photos of their co-workers? Ramasar didn't actively solicit them and make demeaning comments about them? They participated at knifepoint?

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8 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

Whether it was "some" or "all",  firing an employee,  who is otherwise doing his job and fulfilling the terms of his contract,  because other employees don't like him is not a defensible position. 

I don't think "liking" or "not liking" is the issue here. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if some of the people who believe it is appropriate for NYCB to fire Ramasar and Catazaro also happen to like them. They may genuinely respect them as artists and may have had nothing but positive personal and professional interactions with them and still believe it would not be right for the company to continue to employ them.

Edited by Kathleen O'Connell
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8 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

 The optics are really bad for the company - two ethnic dancers being punished because of the shenanigans of a rich white boy from Connecticut.

Catazaro? I assume he is part Italian. I know Italians were not considered "white" in America a century ago, but you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who argues that today.

His father's last name is Clark. Both of his parents were born in the US.

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1 minute ago, Balletwannabe said:

Do they need to promote some men to principal ASAP or can the current soloists just fill in?  Wondering how this works with pay- if you can expect soloists to work in a principal role while still paying a soloist wage?

The list of NYCB soloists who have danced above their pay grade is long and distinguished. The current roster includes more than a few ... 

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25 minutes ago, aurora said:

 

 

25 minutes ago, aurora said:

Catazaro? I assume he is part Italian. I know Italians were not considered "white" in America a century ago, but you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who argues that today.

His father's last name is Clark. Both of his parents were born in the US.

I use the term "ethnic" the way urban  sociologists use it.  It has nothing to do with where their parents were born.  Italian-Americans are considered "white ethnics".  Ramasar is very dark,  I believe half-Puerto Rican and half Trinidadian.

Edited by On Pointe
Removed double quote.
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6 minutes ago, Balletwannabe said:

Ok I see.  So they really have no obligation to promote anybody to fill a qouta... they could save some $ this way, I suppose.  

I don't know if this is still the case, but back in the day I believe a senior soloist might have earned nearly as much as some of the principals. I think Merrill Ashley may have been one of them - I'd have to pull her book "Dancing for Balanchine" off the shelf to confirm this, however.

ETA: That being said, the current AGMA agreement may be structured so as to limit a company's ability to cast principal roles with soloists and corps members as a tactic for keeping pay low. (And AGMA would be in the right here, of course.)

Edited by Kathleen O'Connell
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Just now, Balletwannabe said:

Ok I see.  So they really have no obligation to promote anybody to fill a qouta... they could save some $ this way, I suppose.  

I'd say that if someone is regularly dancing lead roles they have at least a moral obligation to promote them. With the current leadership situation, however, I'd imagine they might opt to wait until they have a new AD so s/he can have a say in the decision. I don't even think it is clear if the interim leaders have been granted the ability to promote dancers...

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33 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

 

I use the term "ethnic" the way urban  sociologists use it.  It has nothing to do with where their parents were born.  Italian-Americans are considered "white ethnics".  Ramasar is very dark,  I believe half-Puerto Rican and half Trinidadian.

And I didn't discuss Ramasar.

Everyone has an "ethnic" background: Italian, Irish, French. Catazaro is white and grew up in Ohio.  I fail to see how firing him is bad optics on that ground.

Edited by aurora
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The current umbrella contract isn't public.  I've never seen one that classifies parts by rank.  There have been contracts that have limited the number of students who can appear in any performance, and for years NYCB dancers have said they have been promoted to corps  automatically after x performances as apprentices, but that might not be the case under the current contract.

In Seattle, I can't think of anyone in the corps who hasn't done Soloist and Principal roles before being promoted to Soloist, or, for Soloists, a lot of Principal roles before being promoted to Principal.  Because of PNB's size, I don't  think they've  ever had the luxury of casting Soloists in only Soloist roles, especially when injuries happen, and a lot of the contemporary rep is non-hierarchical or hierarchical-lite, with maybe a central pass de deux and/or a central figure.

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As a long time performer,  union operative and sometime producer,  I can assure you that strong performers' unions benefit everyone.  I only hope that AGMA,   not known for being especially tough,  will handle this situation like SAG-AFTRA  or Actors Equity would.

"So they didn't distribute inappropriate videos and/or photos of their co-workers? Ramasar didn't actively solicit them and make demeaning comments about them? They participated at knifepoint?"

I don't  know what they did.  They might have done all that is claimed and more.  "Optics" means it looks bad to have the focus of this story shifted to a guy with a name that ends with a vowel and someone iwith dark brown skin in the conspicuously  white world of ballet.

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19 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

  "Optics" means it looks bad to have the focus of this story shifted to a guy with a name that ends with a vowel and someone iwith dark brown skin in the conspicuously  white world of ballet.

 

lucky for Catazaro that he changed his last name professionally then!

His name is actually Zachary Catazaro Clark. And considering the number of famous ballet dancers with Italian last names (many actually being Italian) I don't buy it

A short list off the time of my head of dancers with Italian names in fairly recent times: Ferri, Fracci, Bocca (Argentinian, but an Italian name)

Edited by aurora
Correction of typo
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