Last September, the New York City Ballet fired two male dancers who were accused of participating in “inappropriate communications” after a dancer, Alexandra Waterbury, accused her ex-boyfriend, a dancer named Chase Finlay, of sharing a sexually explicit photo of her without her consent. Last Friday, the two men were offered back their olds jobs.
According to the New York Times, one of the dancers, Zachary Catazaro “has decided not to return to the company.” He said in a statement that he was “grateful and relieved” that his firing was found to be “wrongful and unjust.” (Finlay stepped down from the company last August.) Amar Ramasar, the other dancer who was fired in September, “plans to return after receiving mandatory counseling.”
“As I move forward, learning, and evolving,” Ramasar said in a statement, “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.”
The decision to bring back Catazaro and Ramasar follows the dancers’ union’s promise to challenge the company’s decision to terminate the men. An arbitrator eventually found that the company went too far in firing them:
City Ballet said in a statement that the arbitrator had ruled that while the company was “justified in disciplining the two men, suspension was the appropriate punishment for their actions and termination was too severe.”
The dancers’ union, the American Guild of Musical Artists, said:
“This was a complicated situation,” the union said in the statement. “We pursued this case because it’s important to us that your employer is prevented from taking extreme and potentially career-ending action based on non-criminal activity in your private life.”
Given that Ramasar, who the Times repeatedly refers to as a “rising star,” is a principal dancer, the ballet’s top rank, he is a visible leader within the institution—and his reinstatement is a visceral sign of where the company ascribes value. The Times reported some dancers were shocked by Ramasar’s decision to return to the company. In her lawsuit against Finlay, Waterbury repeatedly described the company’s frat boy-esque culture, which she said “embolden[ed] [male dancers] to disregard the law and violate the basic rights of women.” Unless there are changes alongside Ramasar’s return to the company, that culture will still be at play.
Correction: This post has been updated to reflect that Alexandra Waterbury is and was not a dancer at the New York City Ballet.