How the Dance World Is Responding to Sexual Harassment Claims Against Peter Martins

(Update: On January 1, Peter Martins retired following his leave of absence from the company as more accusations surfaced. An interim leadership team was announced in December.)

Yesterday The New York Times reported that New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet are jointly investigating sexual harassment claims involving Peter Martins. According to a statement from SAB, it "recently received an anonymous letter making general, nonspecific allegations of sexual harassment in the past by Peter Martins at both New York City Ballet and the school."

Martins, who serves as NYCB's ballet master in chief and SAB's chairman of faculty and artistic director will not be teaching his weekly class at the school as the investigation continues. He currently maintains his positions at both organizations.

While sexual harassment allegations have recently been made against a growing list of Hollywood heavy-hitters, politicians, news anchors and other men in positions of power, this is the first investigation this year of a major figure from the dance world.

Immediate reactions were varied, though emotionally charged. Here are a few of the many responses:


Some admitted they weren't surprised to hear that sexual harassment allegations had touched the dance world.

Others speculated about who might replace Martins if he was let go from NYCB.

Some commented on NYCB's troubling history of directors being sexually involved with company dancers.

#MeToo was a large part of the conversation.

One woman picked up on similar themes in how movies and TV shows have portrayed the ballet world.

Still, several people were hopeful that this reckoning could eventually have a positive effect on the field.

The dance world is already helping.

In light of this news, Dance/NYC issued a statement on sexual harassment this morning, along with a resource list for affected dancers in the New York City area. According to its statement, "Dance/NYC takes seriously harassment in all its forms. It commends the brave individuals who are coming forward in the performing arts and across all sectors to share their stories of sexual harassment and abuse. Dance/NYC also recognizes this as a defining moment to publicly acknowledge long-existing issues in the dance field and to address them and create positive change for the art form and its workforce."

The organization is committed to taking concrete action to foster safer dance environments. These steps include a town hall that's currently in the works, forming a committee to address the issue in the field, connecting survivors with appropriate resources and collaborating on larger efforts with the national service organization Dance/USA.

If you have new information or a perspective you want to share, consider filling out Dance Magazine's survey, or emailing us directly at mschrock@dancemedia.com. We're continuing to look into how the issue is being handled in the dance community.

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Courtesy Schelfhaudt

These Retired Ballroom Dancers Started a Dance-Themed Coffee Company

Like many dancers, when Lauren Schelfhaudt and Jean Paul retired from professional ballroom dancing in 2016, they felt lost. "There was this huge void," says Schelfhaudt.

But after over 20 years of dancing, plus United States and World Championship titles, reality shows, and high-profile choreography gigs (and Paul's special claim to fame, as "the guy who makes Bradley Cooper look bad" in Silver Linings Playbook), teaching just didn't fill the void. "I got to the point where it wasn't giving me that creative outlet," says Paul.

When the pair (who are life and business partners but were never dance partners—they competed against one another) took a post-retirement trip to Costa Rica, they were ready to restart their lives. They found inspiration in an expected place: A visit to a coffee farm.

Though they had no experience in coffee roasting or business, they began building their own coffee company. In 2018, the duo officially launched Dancing Ox Coffee Roasters, where they create dance-inspired blends out of their headquarters in Belmont, North Carolina.

We talked to Schelfhaudt and Paul about how their dance background makes them better coffee roasters, and why coffee is an art form all its own:

GO DEEPER