Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB

A Former SAB Student Is Suing NYCB for Creating A "Frat-Like" Environment

Former School of American Ballet student Alexandra Waterbury, 19, is suing New York City Ballet and her ex-boyfriend, former principal dancer Chase Finlay.

Finlay resigned suddenly last week, and principals Amar Ramasar and Zachary Catazaro were put on unpaid leave for the remainder of 2018 because of "inappropriate communications" of a "personal nature."


Waterbury's lawsuit, as reported by Gothamist and the New York Post, reveals what some of those communications might have been. Waterbury claims that, without her consent, Finlay took photos and videos of her while she was naked or engaged in sexual activities, and shared them with company members, donors and a pimp. Finlay allegedly started a group chat with male colleagues where they share explicit images and videos of Waterbury and other female dancers. The lawsuit also includes a conversation where a company donor suggested they "violate" female dancers and "abuse them like farm animals."

Waterbury is accusing NYCB of sending messages "to Mr. Finlay and other NYC Ballet Inc. male dancers and others that it was acceptable to NYC Ballet Inc. to abuse substances and degrade, demean, dehumanize, and sexually abuse, assault and batter women." She alleges that after the company was fined $150,000 after Finlay and other company members destroyed a hotel room while on tour in Washington, D.C., they were told by leadership that if they were to continue such behavior to "just make sure it occurs in New York City." The suit also says that the company allowed a male principal to return to work a week after the police had been called for a domestic violence incident. Waterbury is suing for intentional affliction of emotional distress, assault and battery.

This comes just months after an investigation was unable to corroborate claims of harassment and abuse against former ballet master in chief Peter Martins, who resigned in January.

Update 9/18: The lawsuit has been amended to add Catazaro, Ramasar and donor Jared Longhitano as defendants.

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J. Alice Jackson, Courtesy CHRP

Chicago Human Rhythm Project's Rhythm World Finally Celebrates Its 30th Anniversary

What happens when a dance festival is set to celebrate a landmark anniversary, but a global pandemic has other plans?

Chicago's Rhythm World, the oldest tap festival in the country, should have enjoyed its 30th iteration last summer. Disrupted by COVID-19, it was quickly reimagined for virtual spaces with a blend of recorded and livestreamed classes. So as not to let the pandemic rob the festival of its well-deserved fanfare, it was cleverly marketed as Rhythm World 29.5.

Fortunately, the festival returns in full force this year, officially marking three decades of rhythm-making with three weeks of events, July 26 to August 15. As usual, the festival will be filled with a variety of master classes, intensive courses and performances, as well as a teacher certification program and the Youth Tap Ensemble Conference. At the helm is Chicago native Jumaane Taylor, the newly appointed festival director, who has curated both the education and performance programs. Taylor, an accomplished choreographer, came to the festival first as a young student and later as part of its faculty.

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July 2021