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

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On Pointe,

That is really interesting, your background. I also had a friend who transitioned from Principal dancer to Broadway and I think it is very fascinating. I know it is off topic here, but maybe one day you could compare and Co trust your experiences in both areas. I would love to hear about both.

 

 

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5 hours ago, On Pointe said:

In the Waterbury  case,  nobody died,  no one was battered,  and all of the sex was consensual.  It doesn't  meet the criteria for "revenge porn". 

It's been mentioned several times above, but it's worth reiterating that 'revenge porn' laws target the unlawful dissemination of sexual/intimate images (i.e. disseminating images of a subject without obtaining explicit consent to disseminate those images). This can happen even if the sex was consensual.

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5 hours ago, abatt said:

Yes, her claim is against Finlay, and potentially against any of his friends who also distributed her image after receiving it from Finlay. SAB and NYCB are in the suit because they have deep pockets.  Hopefully the institutions will be dismissed from the suit.  If and when that happens, Waterbury's chance of collecting her damages from Finlay may be an uphill battle.  He comes from a wealthy family, but their wealth is not his wealth.  He is an unemployed student at the moment.  

If any members of the company were her friends, I'm not sure they still are. By intentionally embarrassing members of the company such as Alexa Maxwell and others by repeating the stories she has heard or says she has heard, all she has done is treat other women poorly.  For someone who holds herself out as a representative of "me too",  Waterbury has not done any of these women in the company a service.  .

If anyone embarrassed Maxwell, it was Ramasar, who sent her nude photo to his friends. It would be a shame to punish whistleblowers for attempting to hold institutions and the people in them accountable. SAB and NYCB are in the lawsuit because they are alleged to have turned the other cheek to their male dancers'/patrons' bad behavior. Longhitano's drunken rant and Finlay's DC party (and showing up to rehearsals drunk) all occurred on the clock and were allegedly swept under the rug. Historically, Balanchine's attempt to force Farrell's hand in marriage, Martins' dalliances with then-underage dancers (and the domestic violence incident) have shown that NYCB has not been the safest place for women historically - and all of those events happened before Waterbury was even born.

Though Finlay is currently unemployed, family wealth is passed on generationally. 

Also, NYCB is an enormously powerful arts institution with a large endowment. If it survived the death of Balanchine and the departure of Martins, it will survive this. No one person is going to "bring them down." 

And no one is trying to police male sexuality - if Finlay, Catazaro, and Ramasar wanted to talk about how hot Jennifer Lawrence is, that would be their business. The issue was the nonconsensual distribution of photos and the company that allegedly overlooked it.

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On 9/22/2018 at 2:24 PM, On Pointe said:

It seems that,  as far as the mainstream media is concerned,  the NYCB story doesn't have legs (pardon the pun).  Could be because the Kavanaugh  nomination is so critical to the nation,  and fraught with drama,  that it's driven other sexual misconduct stories off the radar.  Meanwhile I've had time to go over the amended complaint and I have to ask those who genuinely believe that firing Zachary Catazaro  was justified:  why?

Catazaro did not take photos of the complainant,  apparently did not see them or share them,  and he was the previously unnamed male principal who refused to participate in Chase Finlay's sexual harassment  schemes.  His greatest sin appears to be sharing a photo of a woman's breasts where that woman's face is not visible.  That,  and a couple of texts using language that,  while crude,  can be heard on every street corner in the US.  None of this was intended to be public.  After that descriptive passage,  Catazaro is barely mentioned.  For that he loses his career?  It doesn't  seem fair or proportionate punishment to me.

If Catazaro  had been a problematic employee in the past,  it would have been known to NYCB management long before the Waterbury case.  So unless he's got a body in a fridge somewhere,  why was he fired when,  as alleged in the complaint,  dancers who were involved in domestic violence and rape were not?  I could be wrong of course,  but I predict that AGMA will recommend  he be reinstated,  with back pay.  I'm interested in hearing other views.

Catazaro's language was more than crude, though. According to the amended complaint, he and Finlay engaged in an extended back and forth where they fantasized about raping a corps member (Finlay specifically used the language "give her no choice"). I don't know if NYCB has any character/behavior clauses in their dancer contracts, but conversations like that would probably fall under that umbrella. An NYCB job is an enormous privilege - not a right - and I imagine that dancers are expected to elevate themselves beyond "street corner" talk. And this is not unprecedented - a few years ago, several incoming Harvard first-years lost their places at the university when racist group chat messages that circulated among them were discovered. (And if you don't want something to be public, you shouldn't put in in print.)

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5 minutes ago, Pique Arabesque said:

(And if you don't want something to be public, you shouldn't put in in print.)

Physical print or pixels.  If you write it down in any way, no matter what the expectation of privacy or the criminal penalties for disclosure -- Wikileaks, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, for example --  you're always under the risk that it will be copied, forwarded, duplicated, etc.  

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2 hours ago, Pique Arabesque said:

Catazaro's language was more than crude, though. According to the amended complaint, he and Finlay engaged in an extended back and forth where they fantasized about raping a corps member (Finlay specifically used the language "give her no choice"). 

How do you know they were fantasizing? How do you know they were not just joking? It’s not illegal to joke or fantasize for that matter...  Do you know how easy it is to take a text conversation out of context? 

Also if you read the complaint you will see that Catazaro said that he wasn’t interested and that he would feel too bad having a 3way.

 

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3 hours ago, Pique Arabesque said:

 

And no one is trying to police male sexuality - if Finlay, Catazaro, and Ramasar wanted to talk about how hot Jennifer Lawrence is, that would be their business. The issue was the nonconsensual distribution of photos and the company that allegedly overlooked it.

Catazaro didn't  see the photos of Waterbury  and he didn't  distribute them.  As the first time this behavior became known was when Ms. Waterbury  brought her suit,  how could NYCB "overlook" behavior the company was completely  unaware of?

3 hours ago, Pique Arabesque said:

An NYCB job is an enormous privilege - not a right - and I imagine that dancers are expected to elevate themselves beyond "street corner" talk. And this is not unprecedented - a few years ago, several incoming Harvard first-years lost their places at the university when racist group chat messages that circulated among them were discovered. (And if you don't want something to be public, you shouldn't put in in print.)

NYCB is an employer,  not a school.  They are limited in their ability to police the lives of their employees,  just like any other employer.  There is no reason to expect adults to elevate their private thoughts and conversations to conform to somebody else's standard.  It may have been street corner language,  but they weren't standing on a street corner shouting it during work hours.

I looked at the exchanges made between the would-be Harvard freshmen and they are truly vile.  (They are easy to find if you're curious  but be warned,  they're horrible.)  In no way, shape or form do they resemble the exchange between Catazaro  and  Finlay. 

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3 hours ago, Pique Arabesque said:

Also, NYCB is an enormously powerful arts institution with a large endowment. If it survived the death of Balanchine and the departure of Martins, it will survive this. No one person is going to "bring them down." 

Any performing arts institution without State or Royal subsidy is a house of cards.  

Tell me again where NYCB's longtime co-tenant  at the State Theater, NYCO, is these days?

Edited by Amy Reusch

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34 minutes ago, fordhambae said:

How do you know they were fantasizing? How do you know they were not just joking? It’s not illegal to joke or fantasize for that matter...  Do you know how easy it is to take a text conversation out of context? 

Also if you read the complaint you will see that Catazaro said that he wasn’t interested and that he would feel too bad having a 3way.

 

And "just joking" about raping a junior colleague would be OK, in your opinion? At any company I've worked for, that kind of "joke" ALONE would be cause for immediate termination. Who would want to work with someone who joked about raping their colleagues?

It is truly amazing to me the behavior people seem to be willing to excuse from artists they favor.

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45 minutes ago, fordhambae said:

How do you know they were fantasizing? How do you know they were not just joking? It’s not illegal to joke or fantasize for that matter...  Do you know how easy it is to take a text conversation out of context? 

Also if you read the complaint you will see that Catazaro said that he wasn’t interested and that he would feel too bad having a 3way.

 

Catazaro's disclaimer was about the behavior, not about "joking" or "fantasizing" about it.  When jokes are about rape, and it's not a victim's joke, I think that's pretty hostile in itself and crosses the line.  I'd love to see that conversation in a context that makes it acceptable, but the behavior was originally raised because in the Cliff Notes version of what Catazaro did or didn't do, it wasn't mentioned. 

7 minutes ago, Amy Reusch said:

Any performing arts institution without State or Royal subsidy is a house of cards.  

NYCB has a substantial endowment, which NYCO did/does not.  NYCB has some leeway to make decisions to get them through the short- and medium-term, if they make decisions based on what is best for the long-term health of the organization.  

NYCO was not in the same league as Mortier; no one NYCB can bring in with any equivalent experience is going to be a league ahead of the Company.  NYCB has a substantial budget and core audience that is there to see a specific rep and/or company of dancers, whereas NYCO didn't have the finances and wasn't a rep company: they hired per production and needed to compete with opera houses worldwide for the talent/names needed to sell tickets.

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25 minutes ago, MarzipanShepherdess said:

And "just joking" about raping a junior colleague would be OK, in your opinion? At any company I've worked for, that kind of "joke" ALONE would be cause for immediate termination. Who would want to work with someone who joked about raping their colleagues?

It is truly amazing to me the behavior people seem to be willing to excuse from artists they favor.

Did you read the exchange?  Describing it as joking about rape is an enormous stretch.

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30 minutes ago, MarzipanShepherdess said:

And "just joking" about raping a junior colleague would be OK, in your opinion? At any company I've worked for, that kind of "joke" ALONE would be cause for immediate termination. Who would want to work with someone who joked about raping their colleagues?

It is truly amazing to me the behavior people seem to be willing to excuse from artists they favor.

I believe that leave her no choice is about convincing not about raping.

 “I want to get this job and leave them no choice”. Does that sound like that person intends to rape the interviewer? ...or could it mean they’re going to try their hardest to convince them so they say yes. 

 

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1 minute ago, fordhambae said:

 

 “I want to get this job and leave them no choice”. Does that sound like that person intends to rape the interviewer? ...or could it mean they’re going to try their hardest to convince them so they say yes. 

 

That's a very different context.  

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17 minutes ago, Helene said:

That's a very different context.  

Right, what’s the crime in this context then? Firearms? Murder?

 

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I read the complaint, and the context was sex.  Which makes lack of choice more than a bit problematic.

Again, the context of raising this in the first place was that it wasn't considered important enough to put in a condensed description of what in the complaint, Catazaro is accused of doing.  I agree that it was a big omission in describing the accusation and was right to be raised.  

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1 hour ago, fordhambae said:

I believe that leave her no choice is about convincing not about raping.

 “I want to get this job and leave them no choice”. Does that sound like that person intends to rape the interviewer? ...or could it mean they’re going to try their hardest to convince them so they say yes. 

 

If a date told me s/he was going to give me "no choice" about sex, I wouldn't assume I was in for a lot of great poetry; I would call a taxi...or, in some situations, 911.

In other words: "Leave them no choice" when the subject is sex? That's language referring to rape. (Uh...if it was a joke, then its being a joke argues in favor of the more obscene interpretation as much as ordinary usage-in-context does.)

I do tend to think the men in this case were joking, but...well...let's just say that if I had a colleague at work who made a joke like that about me and I found out about it, I would look into filing a complaint. And I probably would not feel comfortable working with that person.  The dancer at NYCB may feel differently--though I kind of doubt it--but that doesn't make that kind of joking the least bit less problematic for NYCB as a workplace for women and, indeed, for men.

Edited by Drew

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5 hours ago, Pique Arabesque said:

It would be a shame to punish whistleblowers for attempting to hold institutions and the people in them accountable. 

I guess we will have to disagree.   I don't regard Waterbury as a whistleblower.  A whistleblower is someone who informs on an illicit organization.  The illicit behavior, however, was committed by an individual on his off hours in his personal life.  There is no basis to impose liability on NYCB for the private actions of Finlay and his friends.  Time will tell, as they say.

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Does the updated complaint specify whether all of the “intimate, explicit and sexual” images of Ms. Waterbury were taken by Finlay? Could it be that some of the nude images of her that he shared were taken by someone else? I am not questioning his actions, I am simply curious about the source of those images in question.

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10 hours ago, Helene said:

Barry Kerollis's recent episode from his podcast "Pas de Chat" discusses some of the environmental issues he faced as a student and young company member -- here, he's mostly talking about his experience at PNB -- which I think are pertinent to the discussion:

Toxic Masculinity in Dance

It is very pertinent. Kerollis talks bout how straight dancers in the company are always having to prove they're straight and by doing so make things unpleasant for everyone else. He goes on to say dropping the PR talking point that ballet companies are a great place for men to date – and touch – women (as in the male dancer episode of city.ballet), and dropping the PR talking point that ballet class is a great thing for athletes to take to improve their football/basketball/etc game would be helpful way to change general perceptions of ballet companies. He invites comments about the podcast from other dancers.

Begins about 15 minutes in, Houston Ballet at 18 min.

Edited by Quiggin

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2 minutes ago, Quiggin said:

and dropping the PR talking point that ballet class is a great thing for athletes to take to improve their football/basketball/etc game would be helpful way to change general perceptions of ballet companies.

What I would kill altogether are the "cute" special interest segments in which the sports writer goes to ballet class and makes five "You're not going to make me wear tights, are you?" comments, puts his hands in high fifth and twirls, and then pretends that his testacles have been destroyed when he tries fifth position, and it all becomes a big joke, wink wink to all of the viewers out there to show he's still a real man.

 

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1 hour ago, Drew said:

If a date told me s/he was going to give me "no choice" about sex, I wouldn't assume I was in for a lot of great poetry; I would call a taxi...or, in some situations, 911.

In other words: "Leave them no choice" when the subject is sex? That's language referring to rape. (Uh...if it was a joke, then its being a joke argues in favor of the more obscene interpretation as much as ordinary usage-in-context does.)

I do tend to think the men in this case were joking, but...well...let's just say that if I had a colleague at work who made a joke like that about me and I found out about it, I would look into filing a complaint. And I probably would not feel comfortable working with that person.  The dancer at NYCB may feel differently--though I kind of doubt it--but that doesn't make that kind of joking the least bit less problematic for NYCB as a workplace for women and, indeed, for men.

In a non-sexual context,  I've thought and said a lot of things about people I've worked with that would have caused a great deal of awkwardness if they had known about them.    Rod Rosenstein is in very hot water over an offhand remark he had no reason to believe would be published in the New York Times.  Ms. Waterbury  is not the only person with a right of privacy.  As the exchange between Catazaro  and  Finlay  had nothing to do with her,  they only served to embarrass Catazaro  and imperil his career.  What the two of them said on their own time is their own business.  They didn't  post it to Facebook or publish it in any form.  This policing of adults' private thoughts smacks of fascism.

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50 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

In a non-sexual context,  I've thought and said a lot of things about people I've worked with that would have caused a great deal of awkwardness if they had known about them.    Rod Rosenstein is in very hot water over an offhand remark he had no reason to believe would be published in the New York Times.  Ms. Waterbury  is not the only person with a right of privacy.  As the exchange between Catazaro  and  Finlay  had nothing to do with her,  they only served to embarrass Catazaro  and imperil his career.  What the two of them said on their own time is their own business.  They didn't  post it to Facebook or publish it in any form.  This policing of adults' private thoughts smacks of fascism.

These are serious concerns--I mostly wanted to indicate my strong conviction that a joke about giving a women "no choice" in matters of sex is a joke about rape not about "convincing." Still, it is worth remarking that these are not thoughts, but words. And words that however jokingly refer to a potential crime. Still, as you say, private words--at least as far as we know from the case so far..

But these private words became public because of specific actions one of the two parties to the conversation is alleged to have committed. Having become public they impact the company and its employees, and the company might reasonably feel a need to address them.  In this case they decided to do so -- first through suspensions then firing; the union (and others) are arguing the last is over-reach. That will be determined in arbitration. As far as Waterbury's suit goes, likewise the courts will determine ... But yes, when one (purported) crime/wrong is investigated (Finlay's actions in this case) other stuff, that might not be expected to come out, comes out. (And given that the point of her suit against the company is to argue that this case isn't just about Finlay, her case then has to show just that.  Though I continue to think that a suit against Finlay alone would still raise issues for the company. If she were suing ONLY Finlay, would his exchange with Catazaro never have become public? I think it might have.)

And once something like these emails do come out (for whatever reason), that has consequences.  And can raise red flags which, even if the courts decide don't rise to the level to justify a suit against NYCB or Catazaro might be worthwhile for NYCB to address. 

Barry Kerollis discusses these issues in general terms regarding the ballet world and talks about what he thinks it needs to address -- not the specific case -- in the podcast Helene and Quiggin mentioned.

In terms of public perceptions, I will add that given that these words became public Catazaro's unwillingness (so far) to express any kind of regret or humility (as Ramasar did in his second public statement) is all the more puzzling to me, especially if he is trying to save his career. I imagine that if you said something about co-worker that came out and caused "awkwardness," as in the scenario you invoke in your post,  you might apologize EVEN IF you were pissed off that something you thought was private became public and you didn't think it should have. Perhaps you would not, on principle, but I have seen one similar scenario at my workplace and apologies were made. And of course perhaps we will see them made in the future.

(I don't think apologies are some magic panacea--especially if there are systemic problems...and I know they have to be worded carefully when one is being sued. Still, it's just one of the things I have noticed with surprise in some of the statements made as this case unfolds.)

 

 

Edited by Drew

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32 minutes ago, Drew said:

These are serious concerns--I mostly wanted to indicate my strong conviction that a joke about giving a women "no choice" in matters of sex is a joke about rape not about "convincing." Still, it is worth remarking that these are not thoughts, but words. Private words (at last as far as is known) that became public because of criminal actions one of the two parties to the conversation is alleged to have committed. Having become public they impact the company and its employees, and the company might reasonably feel a need to address them.  In this case they decided to do so -- first through suspensions then firing; the union (and others) are arguing the last is over-reach. That will be determined in arbitration, not by me and not on this discussion board. As far as Waterbury's suit goes, likewise I leave it to the courts to determine ... But yes, when a (purported) crime is investigated (Finlay) other stuff, that might not be expected to come out, comes out. (And given that the point of her suit against the company is to argue that this case isn't just about Finlay, her case then has to show just that.  Though I continue to think that a suit against Finlay alone would still be a plenty big problem for the company.)

And once something comes out (for whatever reason) that has consequences.  And raises red flags which, even if the courts decide don't rise to the level to justify a suit against NYCB, might be worthwhile for the company to discuss. As indeed Barry Kerollis discusses in general terms regarding the ballet world -- not the specific case -- in the podcast Helene and Quiggin mentioned.

In terms of public perceptions, I will add that given that these words became public Catazaro's unwillingness to express regret (as Ramasar did in his second public statement) is all the more puzzling to me. I imagine that if you said something about co-worker that came out and caused "awkwardness," as in the scenario you invoke,  you might apologize  EVEN IF you were pissed off that something you thought was private became public and didn't think should have. Perhaps you would not, but I have seen exactly that scenario at my workplace.

 

 

Ms. Waterbury's case is a civil action.  It is yet to be determined that a criminal act took place.  It likely will never come to that.  At any rate,  it's the police that do the investigating. It's telling that the first version of the complaint did not include this conversation.  If it had been necessary for Merson to make his case,  it would have been in there.  (If the female dancer's name is included or easily guessed in a new version of the complaint,  it will be proof positive that the main motivation is to hurt and embarrass,  not seek justice.)  At any rate,  in my opinion,  Catazaro  and  Finlay  were not joking about rape.  As there are others here who feel otherwise,  one can conclude that we might represent  a microcosm of the public - some will find it a hanging offense and some will not.

I listened to the podcast and what Barry Kerollis calls toxic masculinity is behavior familiar to anyone who has spent time around adolescent boys,  whether they dance or play football.   They are not yet fully formed men and they tend to do silly things.  But men from every  walk of life have done what Chase Finlay is alleged to have done.  It's not a ballet problem,  it's a human problem.

I don't  think  we should think less of Catazaro  because he didn't  apologize.  He might have been advised to refrain from saying anything until this matter is adjudicated,  which would be good advice.  Or not.  

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35 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

Ms. Waterbury's case is a civil action.  It is yet to be determined that a criminal action took place.  It likely will never come to that.  At any rate,  it's the police that do the investigating,  not a suspicious girlfriend snooping in her boyfriend's email.  It's telling that the first version of the complaint did not include this conversation.  If it had been necessary for Merson to make his case,  it would have been in there.  At any rate,  in my opinion,  Catazaro  and  Finlay  were not joking about rape.  As there are others here who feel otherwise,  one can conclude that we might represent  a microcosm of the public - some will find it a hanging offense and some will not.

I listened to the podcast and what Barry Kerollis calls toxic masculinity is behavior familiar to anyone who has spent time around adolescent boys,  whether they dance or play football.   They are not yet fully formed men and they tend to do silly things.  But men from every  walk of life have done what Chase Finlay is alleged to have done.  It's not a ballet problem,  it's a human problem.

Oh I was actually just editing my post to get rid of the word criminal--so point taken!

I don't think joking about rape is a hanging offense. I don't care for it either and think it can be destructive in the workplace. Fairly or unfairly, Catazaro's words are now known to his fellow workers.

Finlay, Catazaro, and Ramasar are not adolescent boys. (And not all adolescent boys behave with appalling disrespect to women. By a long shot.)

Men from every walk of life have done what Chase Finlay is alleged to have done or something like it or worse.  Yet some workplaces are worse when it comes to such things than others. Consistently. So things can be done to influence how people conduct themselves towards one another without veering off into thought control and fascism. Has NYCB done all it reasonably could have done over time on these issues? I've already said that I don't believe so.

That "ballet" generally shares in problems pervasive in our society is hardly a reason for people in the ballet world not to try to address those problems. Though it may be a reason to realize there is a limit to what can be done in any one given sphere without larger social movements. And I'm not yet prepared to give up on positive change altogether.

 

Edited by Drew

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