Zachary Cantazaro (left) and Amar Ramasar (right) both expressed their relief at the ruling. (Instagram/AP)
An arbitrator has ruled the New York City Ballet (NYCB) must reinstate two male dancers who were fired for sharing sexually explicit texts and nude photos of women.
- Zachary Catazaro and Amar Ramasar were accused of sharing explicit images with other dancers
- Catazaro declined a reinstatement to the New York City Ballet
- NYCB maintains it was within its rights to fire the dancers but says it will abide by the ruling
The arbitrator decided the company should not have fired Amar Ramasar and Zachary Catazaro after they were named in a lawsuit by a woman who accused the ballet company of tolerating a “fraternity-like atmosphere” in which male dancers understood that “they could degrade, demean, mistreat and abuse, assault and batter women without consequence”.
Ramasar, who was a star with the company and appeared in last year’s Broadway revival of Carousel, said he was gratified to have won reinstatement.
“As I move forward, learning and evolving, I am eager to once again dance amongst the colleagues I respect, doing the ballets I have held close to my heart for the past 18 years,” he said.
Catazaro said he was “grateful and relieved” at the ruling but added he had “decided to respectfully decline [his] reinstatement and will not be returning to NYCB”.
“NYCB has been my home from the age of 18 and I’m thankful for the many opportunities that were given to me there,” he wrote on Instagram.
“In light of all the facts that were presented, I feel vindicated knowing that the arbitrator has found NYCB’s decision to be wrong.
“As I continue my career elsewhere, I look forward to challenging myself as an artist and renewing my spirited passion for dance.”
Trying to access the dancer pages for Ramasar and Catazaro on the NYCB website still elicits a “cannot be found” error message.
NYC Ballet maintains it was right, but accepts decision
Ramasar and Catazaro were first suspended and then fired in September after they were named in a lawsuit by Alexandra Waterbury, a former student with the City Ballet’s affiliated school, the School of American Ballet.
Waterbury sued after discovering, she said, that a male City Ballet dancer she had been dating, Chase Finlay, had shared nude photos of her, taken without her knowledge, with other men in the company.
The lawsuit accused Finlay of sending nude photos of Waterbury to Ramasar. It said Catazaro exchanged unspecified images with Finlay.
Andrea Grymes tweet about Alexandra Waterbury’s allegations of mistreatment in the New York City Ballet
Shortly after his firing, Ramasar said he “was not in any way part of a group chat that people have erroneously linked me to”.
Catazaro said he had nothing to do “with any of Alexandra Waterbury’s personal material”.
While denying that it condoned mistreatment of women, the NYCB terminated the contracts of Ramasar and Catazaro. Finlay resigned before he could be fired.
An email seeking comment was sent to Finlay.
The dancers’ union, the American Guild of Musical Artists, appealed Ramasar’s and Catazaro’s firings to the arbitrator.
NYCB said in a statement it believes it was within its rights to fire the dancers but would abide by the ruling. The company noted Ramasar must undergo counselling on his conduct as a condition of reinstatement.
A lawyer for Waterbury said the arbitrator’s ruling does not affect “the pending lawsuit designed to hold the New York City Ballet and others accountable.”