Two New York City Ballet Principals Suspended, Another Leaves
New York City Ballet will be three male principals short this season. Due to "inappropriate communications," Amar Ramasar and Zachary Catazaro have been suspended without pay until 2019, and Chase Finlay has resigned, effective immediately, according to The New York Times. (Finlay's name has already disappeared from the company roster on nycballet.com.)
A statement from the NYCB board chairman said they received a letter from someone outside of the company "alleging inappropriate communications made via personal text and email by three members of the company" that were "personal in nature." It added that the board's efforts to reach Finlay to even discuss the allegations were unsuccessful, which leads us to believe that it must have been quite a serious offense.
Either way, the swift action taken on the part of NYCB is a clear sign of the changing company culture in the post-Peter Martins era. The dancers found out about the news on Monday, a day before they were due to start rehearsals. They were sent an internal memo from Jonathan Stafford, who's leading the interim leadership team while NYCB searches for Martins' successor.
In an Instagram post liked and commented on by many of the dancers, corps member Alexa Maxwell, Ramasar's girlfriend, shared lyrics from Carousel, which Ramasar is currently performing in on Broadway until it closes September 16.
Soloist Megan LeCrone also posted on Instagram about a weathering the storm, and "helping those that have fallen":
Joaquin De Luz reposted her photo and quote, adding, "And once again those who pay the price are the artists, the audience and our art form..."
Losing three leading men at once is likely to wreak havoc on casting for the season, which opens in just three weeks. Another principal will be lost when De Luz retires in October. But the unexpected openings may give rising male stars opportunities to step up. (Roman Mejia, anyone?)
One thing is sure: There will likely only be more changes ahead as the company finds new leadership and redefines its culture.
Yvonne Rainer's Parts of Some Sextets (AKA "the mattress dance") hasn't been revived since it premiered in 1965. Nor has Rainer had any wish to do it again, to ask performers to heave 10 mattresses around while carrying out 31 tasks that changed every 30 seconds. It was an unwieldy, difficult dance. (Even the title is unwieldy.) But Emily Coates, who has danced in Rainer's work for 20 years, became curious about this piece and was determined to see it again—and to dance in it. She will get her wish November 15–17, when the mattress dance will be performed as part of the Performa 19 Biennial.
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.