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August 28, 2018

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I am in shock.

Is the “victim” MacCauley himself? I can see him messaging them incessantly. He’s a gross pervert.

Don't know. Macaulay or Clifford or somebody else. The fact is that the NYT will continually mention it at every opportunity just like they continually mention their version of Martins' resignation and their efforts to stir up lurid speculation about Marcelo Gomes. Unless Chase or someone else releases those texts and emails, we will get an ongoing never ending (until Macaulay is deported) smearing of the dancers.

I hope that the person responsible for writing the letter of complaint to John Stafford fully understands the repercussions. I hope the incident(s) were so horrific in nature that they were worth destroying the lives of three young men.

Ballet Fan, I don't think lives have been destroyed here. Nor careers. Flames have been fanned by people who want them to continue to burn. Simple as that.

Which principal ballerina, Haglund? Bouder? That's the only one I can think of that rejoiced when Martins was ousted. Rich!

Alice, you'll have to speculate that one on your own.

I, like all of you, would like some actual details about these "violations". And what warranted a "suspension" versus dismissal. I will be very curious to see whether dancers continue to perform with any or all of these three men.

I find Marcelo's dismissal so odd precisely because, seemingly universally, his former ABT colleagues continue to support him and appear with him - I have a feeling the reason for his dismissal/resignation couldn't be so abhorrent - otherwise his colleagues would (rightly) distance themselves.

Finlay will go elsewhere, but if Amar and Zach return and the whole company treats it as "no big deal", and their partners in various roles continue to dance with them, it does make me question why they were suspended in the first instance? And presumably Finlay will have to give some context to a future employer/company, and if they hire him.....

Hope these guys lawyered up. It’s time NYT was taken down.

I don’t see how Ramasar and Catazaro could return regardless. Frankly I would have resigned with Finlay if I were them. How can they return to the company after a year (which is a lifetime in the ballet world) and transition seamlessly back in with no resentments or awkwardness? And with a new director to boot? I sure as heck wouldn’t be able to swallow my pride like that.

formerdancer,

Maybe I misread, but I thought the suspensions were until 2019 -- not through 2019. My interpretation (which could be wrong) was that they were suspended to the end of the year, i.e., all of fall season and Nutcracker.

There is nothing to stop the company from altering the suspensions or stopping them early (or extending them). It's their business how to handle it. It's so unfortunate that the dancers who keep blabbing to the NYT aren't suspended or fired too.

I’m saddened that the NYT quoted Alastair’s negative comments on two of the three dancers in question. Totally unecessary.

Hello, Jeannette. Long time, no hear.

The NYT's agenda is pretty clear. The only thing the article should have done was to acknowledge that Macaulay contributed to the reporting, not to mention possibly the facts.

NYCB is the only company I know of that could lose three principal males, and then yawn before moving on with business. It is that strong, and its bench is that deep. There is nothing to worry about. When the guys return, the company men who stepped in for them will be stronger as will be the company as a whole. Macaulay's "the sky is falling" is nonsense. He needs to create drama so that he has something to write about. God knows, he can't write about ballet performances.

When I started to follow Ballet, it was my refuge and escape from the problems of the world. The beauty and artistry saved me. Now those world problems have infiltrated my escape world. It makes me truly sad. I don’t know how to feel about this. I apologize for my selfishness. I hope everything turns out well for those young men.

"He needs to create drama so that he has something to write about. God knows, he can't write about ballet performances." So true!

Very frustrated by Ballet Alert and it's ridiculously rigid rules about discussion points re this news story. How are people supposed to discuss ballet if you can't say anything???

At least there's you Haglund! Anyway I can't imagine three men simultaneously sexting the same person. How likely is that? There's got to be more to the story. I hope proof is offered up from one or all of them.

Hi deanna.

The company did not say that the three dancers sexted anyone. The reason that may have occurred to you is because of the way the NYT article was slanted. 25% of the sentences in the article (3 out of 12) tied the news into sexual abuse allegations against Peter Martins either by reference or by link. That's how the NYT works to slant and distort news.

I’m wondering if NYCB’s code of conduct is overly stringent? I’m racking my brain at what kind of communication would be inappropriate enough to cause a suspension but not dismissal?

Extremely sad about the news. I’m glad to see messages or gestures of support from company members on social media.

Hi, yukionna.

Yes, it is apparent that there is tremendous support for these guys.

I've always thought that Chase Finlay could have an even bigger career than his huge/admirable career at NYCB. My hope is that he branches out around the world and widens his classical repertory. My greatest hope, however, is that he finds another mentor who can actively help to evolve his dancing. How exciting it would be to see him rise at RB, RDB, POB, Bolshoi or Mariinsky.

I could see someone like Ethan Stiefel coaching Finlay - he too was a Balanchine dancer before making the leap to the classics.

Rose, these days I wouldn't wish an ABT career on anyone. Finlay would be so frustrated with the moronic artistic direction of the company. His dancing would probably deteriorate quickly.

Haglund -

Agree w/you about going to ABT. But what about one of the better regional companies? I've been thinking along those lines anyway - that the future of American ballet is no longer (at least not for the forseeable future) with the troubled "mothership" but with the satellites, and with unique, native flora/fauna such as Houston Ballet. We'll see.

And while in terms of actual dancers the NYCB has a deep bench, the management is so troubled that I see nothing but trouble for the future. And I'm not troubled by this. I take a philosophical Balanchinian stance ("apres moi, le board") and think it will all work out, but not in the way we want it to.

I really wish that Ratmansky could take over a regional company and turn it into something great. Farrell once said that if Balanchine were in Alaska, that would be the place to dance. If Ratmansky were in Phoenix, that would be the place to be.

JMO. A girl can dream.

Diana, unlike you, I'm pleased with the recovery and progression of the company under Jon Stafford and the interim team. Stafford's hand is steady, his judgement wise, his casting pleasing, his energy is youthfully progressive, and his respect among the dancers is high. The NYT doesn't favor him because he's not fodder for their stories -- another good reason to give him the job permanently.

Think back at how horrible it was for Martins in the years after Balanchine died. Despite the fact that he was Balanchine's choice, he was often publicly disrespected and mocked by the same dancers in the company over and over again – his crime was that he was not Balanchine. I witnessed it when the NYCB dancers would come to David Howard's to take morning class.

By comparison, the current transition is going smoothly and gives every indication that the company will progress as it should. That said, there will always be some dancer who is unhappy. So, it is a good thing that there are choices around the U.S. and eastward where great careers can be continued.

IMO, the future of American ballet still lies squarely at NYCB with its solid Balanchine rep, which is danced better and better as the years progress.

According to John Clifford, the company has deteriorated and companies like the Marinsky and Bolshoi are dancing Balanchine better than NYCB!

The NYT article was a true piece of biased garbage. It made me sick to read it.

Rose, does anyone consider seriously what John Clifford has to say?

He clearly didn’t see the Bolshoi dance Rubies last summer.

LOL, yukionna.

'The company "received a letter alleging inappropriate communications made via personal text and email by three members of the company.” The letter did not come from someone in the company, and the communications were “personal in nature.”

I'm still trying to understand this. The company (presumably the Board Chair (?) received a letter from someone outside the company alleging that Finlay, Ramasar and Catazaro had made inappropriate text and email communications.

To whom?

This is weird.

Everything about this is bizarre and the company’s description of events is incredibly vague. We don’t even know if the letter sender is the person who received the “inappropriate communication”, or how many recepients there were, or what the nature of the communications is.

This of course, gave the NYT prime opportunity to frame this situation as a sex scandal by framing it around the Peter Martins allegations. They even managed to get an anonymous dancer from the company to help them make that connection.

LOL, yukionna. What a travesty that was!

So here's what it was all about: http://gothamist.com/2018/09/05/nyc_ballet_lawsuit.php

Interesting how NYCB gets dragged into this as the deep pocket. NYCB's "agents, servants, employees, donors, principals" "degraded and mistreated alcohol, drugs and women." What exactly is mistreating alcohol and drugs? And she's going after the donors, too?

What Chase is accused of doing is literally a crime, and completely vile. Are you seriously siding with the male dancers on this one, Haglund? The allegations in that article are horrifying, and I think that the perpetrators should be held to account, including the company. Chase resigned rather than contest the allegations, so it seems to me that they must be true.

True what you say K. If there is evidence that Chase committed a crime, he should be arrested. Maybe he will be, but right now, it just looks like she's going for the deep pockets which makes me all the more interested in the evidence. If she's a crime victim and what occurred is "every woman's worst nightmare" (directly from the complaint), then where are the police?

Edited to add: I'm not siding with anyone. I'm just saying that she needs to prove all of her claims instead of just throwing everything she can imagine into her lawsuit and hope that she gets a settlement offer before she has to prove anything.

I’m also curious if she will be pressing charges.

Finlay is caught in a catch-22 here. This is a civil suit, but with potential criminal implications. If he pleads the fifth, it will likely be an adverse inference against him in this particular lawsuit. If he testifies, it can be used against him if he’s prosecuted.

NYCB might probably be able to get some of the claims against them dismissed.

Some of the claims are very gossipy. The complainant will have to prove them. She may be hoping for a trial in the press instead of having to prove anything in court. I'm sure that Gia and Alastair will help her with that; they probably have their snitch-on-speed-dial on an open line right now.

I don’t think there is any question that she has evidence. Unfortunately, texting is like squeezing a tube of toothpaste. Once the toothpaste is out of the tube, there’s no putting it back. Sadly, I don’t believe there is any way to sugar coat Chase’s behavior.

One never knows until one sees the evidence. Given the degree of detail, it sounds possible that she or someone else has Chase's phone with all the texts and password. (I now see that she says Chase gave her the password to his laptop wherein all the messages popped up--she said in a "news conference".) If Chase committed a crime he should be arrested and tried. However, some of the plaintiff's claims, such as having her reputation as a professional ballet dancer and model ruined, are a little farfetched. If she actively tries to spread her story in the media, then she's bringing harm on herself. Why on earth is she reluctant about going to the police?

I deplore the type of behavior described. The introduction of drugs and alcohol into their relationship makes it even more disturbing. But only a naive person would think that the plaintiff's complaint contains all the facts and the whole truth.

I think it’s telling that NYCB decided against settling, and took the PR hit, instead. This seems like their legal team believes they can get the claims against them dismissed. Chase’s role in the company is as a dancer. It’s hard for me to imagine that NYCB can he held liable for his actions for his activities outside the parameters of his role in company. Some claims are just flat out unreasonable to me. For example, there’s a claim that NYCB intended to harm her (paragraph 158).

The plaintiff’s lawyer seems to specialize in medical malpractice and personal injury. I don’t know what legal tactics are involved in that area, but reading through the lawsuit makes some of the claims against NYCB seem exaggerated.

I think Finlay, on the other hand, is in hot water. The allegations against him have criminal implications, so he might take the fifth. Since this is a civil suit, it doesn’t carry the same “silence is not an admission of guilt” property that exists in criminal trials.

I agree, yukionna. Even if her lawyer had succeeded in shaking out a settlement when he contacted NYCB last June to ask if they wanted to make payment, it's doubtful that could stop her from going to the police. I also doubt that all the texts just "popped up" on Chase's laptop as she claimed during her press conference. She likely rifled through his texts and emails fairly thoroughly (without his permission). From the NYT article, it seems like she's making whether or not she can get money out of NYCB the determining factor as to whether to go to the police. Wow.

She’s not a cop, so she doesn’t need a warrant to rummage through Finlay’s digital activities. If anything, Finlay should not have shared the photos to begin with. If she didn’t know she was being photographed, he shouldn’t have taken the photos. If I had discovered my partner sending my private photos to others without my consent, I would’ve snooped and gathered evidence as well. The lawsuit has excerpts of what she has. It would be quite a turn of events if it went to trial and the evidence her lawyer listed in the lawsuit was fabricated. I suppose Finlay could claim she knew/consented to the photos being taken and shared.

Including NYCB in her lawsuit is a separate matter to me. Her claims against City Ballet are based on gossip (anonymous company members raped at Vail, wild hotel room parties with unknown participants, allegations that City Ballet condoned/encouraged Chase’s behavior, etc). They’re just not as concrete as what she has against Finlay. I think she will have trouble producing evidence for these claims. What is clear to me is that her lawyer wants as much PR damage as he can manage to inflict on City Ballet.

I don’t think the manner in which she found the texts matters. The fact that they exist is what matters. Haglund, if these pictures and videos were of your daughter/sister/niece, I think you would feel differently. I do agree that NYCB shouldn’t necessarily be held responsible for the actions of its dancers, but Chase is going down, and deservedly so. What he did was vindictive and mean. I don’t know her personally, or her parents, but if she has a father in her life, or an older brother, Chase should fear for his! Going to jail would likely be the safer alternative for him.

I don't disagree, yukionna and Ballet Fan. But I'm not willing to just accept what she has to say at face value without her passing a cross examination and without hearing Chase's version. That she's waiting around to see if she can get money before deciding whether to go to the police is not helping her credibility. She should have gone to police last May or June when she first concluded that she was a victim. If she believes that she's been a victim of a crime, she should go to the police. Immediately.

Despite this unfortunate and uncertain situation, I'm still planning to make it to all seven performances during week 1. I'm guessing that the dancers will be tightly focused on stage and will dance spectacularly in what are among the most important and brilliant works in all of ballet.

I see your point. I'm just not sure how much the timing of when she came forward will matter in this case or that she first tried to get paid.

I'm also planning on attending the shows I have tickets for. I'm heartbroken for the rest of the company. I hope they remain strong and focused this season.

I will also be there to support the the rest of the company. They shouldn’t have to pay for the actions of a few bad apples.

There are bad apples everywhere. Someone who looks like a good apple and fanatically preaches good appleism may turn out to have a worm or two. Ya just never know what's hiding under the shiny peel.

I love NYCB. What they're going through now isn't half of what the Bolshoi marched through and survived, thank goodness. The company will get through this. Thank goodness for Jon Stafford's steady hand.

It's infuriating that the donor remains unnamed. This is American Psycho-ish sociopathic behavior and they should all pay the price. Even the guy writing the checks.

I imagine that the donor remains unnamed because the plaintiff is afraid of a counter-suit.

"Boys will be boys" or "locker room behavior" should never be used to excuse bad behavior, and anything illegal should be addressed through the legal system. That said, dancers are young and live / work in a very physical environment, one that may need better supervision. What bothers me more is the "unnamed donor". This is, or should be, a responsible adult, someone who has no excuse whatsoever for participating in this mess. I hope NYCB identifies this person and says 'no thank you to his or her money and membership.

I haven't read where anyone excused the behavior in this case as "boys will be boys". Besides these are grown men involved.

As far as the disgusting conversations about what they wanted to do to the female dancers -- there was a high profile case in NY, nicknamed The Cannibal Cop Case, where a conviction was overturned on appeal because the judge determined that Cannibal Cop's horrific electronic conversations in the chat room about kidnapping, tying up, cooking and eating women were fantasy, not criminal intent.

Then there is Stephanie's Law and the federal Video Voyeurism Prevention Act that address photographing someone in the nude or having sex when that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Who but those two knows what their sex life was like and whether they'd done it publicly on the Central Park Great Lawn or previously agreed to videos. If cocaine and alcohol were involved in the relationship, that complicates the concept of permission further.

It's all very complicated. I would feel better if there were a police investigation. If he's guilty, he should be held accountable. If she's exaggerating or lying, she should be held accountable.

Wait a sec. Exactly what sort of damage was done in that Washington, DC, hotel room - with underage girls at Finlay’s Party - to cause NYCB to pay the hotel $150,000 for clean up and replacement of damaged articles? That must have been some seriously soiled carpeting and silk upholstery! Or perhaps that was a different sort of hush-hush “clean up”? You can bet that The Washington Post is investigating. During the next tour to the Kennedy Center, NYCB may be welcome only at Motel 6 by the Beltway.

In all seriousness, all of this saddens me.

There's a more important issue here, I think. The question as to whether or not laws were broken is separate from a civil lawsuit. What matters here is that if the allegations have enough truth to them, it reflects upon a lack of moral guidance in the company. Unlike 9-to-5 employees who do this kind of stuff, dancers, from a young age, have lives that are almost totally dominated by their art form. It's close to a 24/7 environment. It's incumbent upon NYCB to provide a degree of moral guidance. I believe that under Peter Martins, it was insufficient. To me, this is a bigger takeaway than whether laws were broken. The real-life result will be how the public views NYCB, especially if there is more to come. People will remember the content of those emails more than how the lawsuit is resolved.

I don't agree, Solor, about the requirement of moral guidance from the company. The affiliated school, like Juilliard and like any other boarding school, has significant responsibilities of supervision. If parents want moral guidance from a boarding school, they choose one with the desired moral guidance. SAB is chosen because it's a dancing school. Heaven knows, kids don't get any moral guidance from public schools.

In a fantasy world, employers would take care of all of their employees' physical, intellectual, and spiritual needs. Employers have a responsibility to create and communicate what ever rules of the road they want to govern employees' behavior when on the job or when representing their employers. Employees either follow them or don't and risk losing their jobs.

A troubled employee with substance abuse problems can create a lot of problems for everyone. The source of the problems is a general societal permissiveness with recreational drug use. And it starts very young.

Most 18-year-olds don't come out of high school making $40-50K per year like a new NYCB dancer. Most 18-year-olds don't know how to handle that type of money and don't have the common sense needed to handle it responsibly. Ditto for the 22-year-old who gets promoted to principal and is making much, much more. What happens? Some spend it on things they shouldn't and get into serious trouble.

I think it's easy to conclude that if no drugs or alcohol were present in Chase Finlay's life, we wouldn't be dealing with this situation today.

NYCB should implement a system-wide substance abuse prevention program that mandates regular, frequent, and unscheduled testing with zero tolerance for a failed test. Zero. They should have the ability to check for alcohol use as liberally as the airlines do, and they should have similar rules about drinking in the hours before work (12 hours bottle to throttle). And if the union refuses to get behind this 100%, I say break the union.

I still find all of this (from Martin's dismissal to now) very difficult to process, as a longtime fan of the company.

I do not think we know enough to draw any conclusions about this full stop, but particularly what role alcohol and drugs, or their absence, would have played.

Kevin Spacey tried to get us all to come to a similar conclusion with his "apology" letter in which he blamed his abusing underage boys on his alcohol consumption. I don't know him, or his psyche, but I don't think alcohol is the sole culprit there, and it's possible it is not the sole culprit with Chase.

I also agree, both with Haglund and Solor, that, whether you call it "moral guidance" or not, there should be established rules about what type(s) of behavior will and will not be tolerated at any organization, including NYCB. It is not clear whether Chase knew the rules and knew what he was doing was wrong, and did it anyway, or whether the rule wasn't there to begin with. I sincerely hope it's the former, because if he felt that type of behavior would be tolerated, it bespeaks a working environment to which I wouldn't subject others.

The plaintiff's own employment environment -- the modeling industry -- is notorious for allowing rampant drug use and alcohol use, along with encouraging eating disorders and exploitation of women. IMO, the modeling industry makes ballet look choir-like.

It still baffles me why the plaintiff hasn't gone to the police if she is so sure that she was a crime victim. It seems that she's carrying around the Misty Copeland I'm-A-Victim Playbook under her arm while now hitting the talk show circuit in an effort to bring NYCB to its knees with its wallet open. The company needs to be careful about squandering donors' money on unproven claims.

I wish she would go to the police, make a complaint, have it go through the indictment phase and deal with it the way all such criminal matters should be dealt with. If Chase needs to go to jail, then so be it.

My sympathy for her is waning as she proceeds to solicit a media trial rather than going through the legal criminal system.


It appears that Amar has been taken out of Carousel, permanently. David Prottas in for the rest off the run (one more week or so).
https://nypost.com/2018/09/06/show-doesnt-go-on-for-dancer-accused-of-sharing-explicit-pics/

Renee Fleming has left, too.

It’s possible that the departures were preplanned. Amar may have expected to start rehearsals at NYCB. Maybe not.

I heard that Renee Fleming had gigs booked long ago and planned her exit. I also heard that the boy's departure was sudden....
I have many opinions on all of this, but my main thought is that the communication between the boys is absolutely disgusting, and the young woman must feel incredibly violated. It's so gross.

Thanks for the info, annisette. But they're not boys; they're men. Grown, adult men.

I see that Finlay's attorney told ABC News that "The complaint is nothing more than allegations and should not be taken as fact." Not exactly a strong pushback like the one NYCB made, but we'll just have to wait for more.

I don’t think that Amar’s early exit from Carousel was pre-planned. As per the article, he performed on Wednesday but didn’t come out for autographs, as in past shows. Then he was suddenly off the show yesterday. At the very least, I’m sure that it’s difficult to perform given the allegations, regardless of whether it’s his own choice or the orders of the Carousel managers.

I imagine it would be difficult.

We live in conflicted times. As I was walking down W. 45th Street today, I passed by the Private Eyes Gentlemen's Club (which happens to be a door or two down from Broadway Dance Center). There were three men standing on the sidewalk talking casually to the doorman. One guy asked, "Does each girl get shared? I mean, do they go down the row?" It was so very casual. It's what a not-small segment of society still deems acceptable for entertainment.

We tend to rationalize drug and alcohol abuse across society as a whole, and do not single out dance companies. But regardless of what transpired among the parties as to the knowledge and/or approval of the photos/videos being taken and/or shared, it falls within an area of behavior that is repugnant to most parents. The publication of the emails themselves will have a greater impact on how this episode is perceived by the public than how any civil or criminal actions are resolved. I'm sure we'll see the usual regret and acknowledgement by the parties involved as dictated by their attorneys and/or p.r. people. Whether or not the company has any liability is less important that its need to distance itself from this behavior and pay a lot more attention to why it happens. It's no secret that the environment within a ballet company is conducive to this kind of stuff. It takes both moral strength on the part of its members and vigilance on the part of management to prevent it. So I think there's responsibility all around.

Jeannette, it looks like Amar is back in Carousel. https://nypost.com/2018/09/07/ballet-dancer-returns-to-stage-after-sexual-misconduct-allegations/

Great news, Haglund! Not to make light of the horrible happenings but I really want to see Amar dancing ballet again some day.

Amar may be back on Broadway, but he is out of the Petrushka he was doing with Tiler Peck and Lil Buck at Fall for Dance, The listing now says Guest Artist TBA.

Ballet Fan, you echoed my sentiments exactly:
"I don’t think the manner in which she found the texts matters. The fact that they exist is what matters. Haglund, if these pictures and videos were of your daughter/sister/niece, I think you would feel differently. I do agree that NYCB shouldn’t necessarily be held responsible for the actions of its dancers, but Chase is going down, and deservedly so. What he did was vindictive and mean. I don’t know her personally, or her parents, but if she has a father in her life, or an older brother, Chase should fear for his! Going to jail would likely be the safer alternative for him."
I'd describe Finlay as not only vindictive and mean, but disturbed. His behavior is far from the boundaries of acceptable. I don't think Waterbury is exaggerating or lying. I think Finlay was perfectly aware that what he was doing was wrong and against the rules. He's not a kid. I think some people are excusing him or minimizing his behavior, or are more focused on the career ruining potential for 3 dancers than they are on having sympathy or empathy for Waterbury. That the donor remains unnamed is infuriating and certainly looks bad for City Ballet. He should be outed and his donations should not be accepted. Not going to happen.

Marta, I understand what you're saying. What I don't understand is why in this day and age, anyone automatically believes a plaintiff before the defendant's side is heard. The defendant has to reply in 20 days or so. It will be on court's website. The defendant's attorney has stated,"The complaint is nothing more than allegations and should not be taken as fact." Why the rush to judgement?

If Chase is guilty, he should go to jail. It is still difficult to understand why this plaintiff will not take the matter to the police. Perhaps she's afraid they or the district attorney won't believe her or will uncover facts that shed a different light on her story. Again, I ask, why the rush to judgement?

There may not have been criminal activity; so far this is a civil suit for damages. But even if one takes the defendant's side (once it's been heard), and even if the defendants prevail in court, how does that excuse what's in the emails, whose authenticity is not in dispute? The combination of the emails and the exchange of photos/videos, regardless of how they were obtained, is distasteful business that doesn't really change based on which side one believes.

No one that I know of has excused the emails as they have been described but which none of us has seen. Secondly, in a lawsuit, everything is subject to verification and discovery. If the defendant's answer which we all shall likely be able to read in the coming weeks is loaded with "Defendant does not dispute...", that will tell us a lot.

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