By Kosta Karakashyan
24 April 2019
Last Friday, through an appeal to an independent arbitrator, the American Guild of Musical Artists successfully reinstated NYCB principals Amar Ramasar and Zachary Catazaro, previously fired for allegedly circulating sexually explicit texts containing nude photos.
AGMA opposed Ramasar and Catazaro’s terminations in order to prevent the setting of a dangerous precedent that would allow dancers to be fired under less understandable consequences. But we cannot allow future cases to dictate the way we handle this situation—particularly a union committed to “doing everything in [its] power to ensure you have a respectful environment in which to work.”
In deciding to advocate for these two dancers, AGMA has not only sided with alleged offenders in multiple serious cases of degradation and sexual harassment, but has also sent a clear message to the whole dance community that the redemptive narrative of these male dancers is more important than the trust and safety of their female colleagues. The union has given these male dancers a seemingly free pass to privately demean and harass women.
Allegations of Ramasar and Catazaro’s behavior first came to light last year when former SAB student Alexandra Waterbury came forward with the story that her then-boyfriend and NYCB principal Chase Finlay had been circulating sexually explicit photos and videos to the other two men without consent. Waterbury filed a suit against NYCB and the three men.
Ramasar and Catazaro were initially suspended, but the company proceeded to fire them, citing “the concerns of dancers, staff members and others in the City Ballet community.” The arbitration ruled that while NYCB was within its rights to suspend the dancers, termination was too severe.
Forty three states—including New York—now have laws against nonconsensual disclosure of sexually explicit images and video, yet AGMA maintains that the two men were fired based on “non-criminal activity in [their] private life.“
It’s astounding that anyone would believe that any one of these dancers could be successfully reintegrated into the company. (Although Catazaro has announced that he will not return, Ramasar will rejoin, on the condition that he undergo counseling.)
Read the full article in Dance Magazine’s Blog.