New York dancers face controversy over photo scandal

November 8, 2019

Approximately one year ago, Amar Ramasar, Zachary Catazaro, and Chase Finlay, all dancers of the New York Ballet Company, were accused of sharing nude photos of one of their female colleagues amongst themselves without consent. It is said that Finlay was in a relationship with the woman, Alexandra Waterbury, at the time of the photo exchange. A plan to fire Finlay from the company was in place when he resigned.

As for Ramasar and Catazaro, there was a bit more controversy. The original plan of the company was to suspend them without pay until 2020, but after hearing the concerns of dancers, staff members, and others in the City Ballet community, they moved to fire the two principal dancers instead. Both Ramasar and Catazaro were devastated by this action and posted on multiple social media platforms that they didn’t do anything wrong and didn’t deserve to lose their positions for what happened with Waterbury’s personal photos. Their reasoning behind their innocence is that they claimed the scandal was entirely non-work related, meaning they can’t be fired for their actions.

In the performance career field, it isn’t all about what you do on stage. There is a certain level of intimacy and trust that must be in place with everyone on the stage at any given moment. “Performing is all about vulnerability and connection, and if there’s tension in a room, the connection isn’t there,” Lauren Trowbridge (12) said. In times like these, how can the bond be fixed? “I don’t think it can be repaired, not fully, especially in the case of sharing nudes,” Trowbridge continued. “If they do it once, they’ll do it again. I wouldn’t be able to continue performing with them in such a case,” she finished.

When the photo scandal blew up, both Ramasar and Catazaro lost the respect and trust of almost every woman on the stage. Many women that are also a part of the ballet company came out and stated that if Ramasar and Catazaro came back to work, they would not feel comfortable or safe dancing with the company anymore. These feelings would not go unnoticed, because integrity and security are very important to the Company. “We have no higher obligation than to ensure that our dancers and staff have a workplace where they feel respected and valued, and we are committed to providing that environment for all employees of the New York City Ballet. We will not allow the private actions of a few to undermine the hard work and strength of character that is consistently demonstrated by the other members of our community or the excellence for which the Company stands.” NYCB Executive Director Katherine Brown and interim artistic team leader Jonathan Stafford said.

In the end, Ramasar and Catazaro were offered their positions back at the New York City Ballet Company. Catazaro had been dancing on a guest contract with Bayerisches Staatsballett in Munich. He decided to decline the offer to return to NYCB. Ramasar, who had been dancing with Rome Opera Ballet decided to return to the Company, but only under the condition that he completes counseling for his actions.

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