The NYC Ballet is under fire after a lawsuit, filed by dancer Alexandra Waterbury, made shocking claims about the treatment of female dancers in the company. Here’s everything to know.
Alexandra Waterbury is suing the New York City Ballet and dancer Chase Finlay, who’s also her ex-boyfriend. In her lawsuit, Alexandra refers to the Ballet as a “fraternity-like atmosphere” where dancers are emboldened to “disregard the law and violate the basic rights of women,” according to the New York Times. Alexandra claims that Chase took sexually explicit and intimate photos of her without her knowledge, then shared them with other male dancers, while allegedly asking them to do the same. Her suit includes explicit text messages between Finlay and others in the company. Here’s more to know:
1. How did Alexandra discover Chase’s behavior? Alexandra reveals in her lawsuit that she first uncovered the alleged horrific texts Chase was sending about her and other female dancers when he gave her his laptop password last spring. When she logged on, the text messages “just popped up,” according to the lawsuit. Alexandra says that Chase began sending the lewd messages in 2017, when he allegedly sent out a nude photograph of her and asked other male dancers if they had any similar pictures of girls they’d slept with. The text chain allegedly continued in a similar manner from there.
2. Alexandra claims the Ballet has turned a blind eye to behavior like this. In her lawsuit, Alexandra also claims that the NYC ballet allows male dancers to “objectify and abuse women however they want.” She cites another incident where Chase and other male dancers were caught throwing a wild hotel room party in Washington D.C., which was allegedly attended by underage girls and full of drugs and alcohol. Alexandra says that the men were not disciplined. “[They] understood that they were ‘above the law’ and could do whatever they wanted to women, whenever they wanted to do so — just make sure i occurs in New York, where it could be controlled by [NYC Ballet] executives and management,” the lawsuit reads, according to the New York Daily News.
3. How has the Ballet responded? The New York City Ballet is “vehemently denying” knowing about the behavior displayed by Chase and the other male dancers. In a statement, a spokesperson for the company said that the “off-hours activities” were “not known, approved or facilitated by NYCB.” The company also confirmed that when it was made aware of the allegations, “we investigated them and found that actions had violated the company’s norms of conduct and immediate and appropriate action was taken.”
4. What action has been taken? Chase resigned from the ballet in August, after the company began questioning him about the allegations. Two other principal dancers, Amar Ramasar and Zachary Catazaro, have been suspended until next year without pay. Chase has not released a statement of his own.
5. How long has Alexandra been with the Ballet? Alexandra, who is 19, studied at the School of American Ballet, which is affiliated with the NYC Ballet, from 2013-2016. She is also a model for Wilhelmina Models, and is currently a student at the School of General Studies at Columbia University.